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Countdown to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games

Ruka Kicks off World Cup Cross Country Season Friday

By Tom Horrocks
November, 25 2021
Rosie Brennan and Jessie Diggins
Rosie Brennan and Jessie Diggins are among 19 Americas kicking off the season Friday in Ruka, Finland, with a classic sprint. (Nordic Focus)

Following a productive summer of training, 19 Americans are ready to kick off the FIS Cross Country World Cup season with the traditional season-opener in Ruka, Finland, featuring three races - classic sprint, classic distance, and freestyle pursuit events starting Friday.

Due to Covid restrictions in place to keep the athletes safe throughout the season, a number of the athletes departed the U.S. last week and said goodbye to their family and friends for the next four months as they embark on their World Cup journey and march toward the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. But thanks to the return of team camps this past summer, including many athletes participating in their club camps throughout the training season, the athletes enjoyed the opportunity to build a stronger bond with each other, which will pay huge dividends on the road this season.

“I'd say the number one thing is the team that we have on the road, both men's and women's teams have created a hospitable environment, an inviting environment,” noted Davis U.S. Cross Country Team Head Coach Matt Whitcomb. “One of the tickets to success is to build a successful team. But you don't really get the full understanding of what it does until you go through some times of adversity,” which the team experienced last season Whitcomb said. “We were constantly having to deal with changes to the schedule, trying to fit in Covid tests here and there; sometimes before races, which is happening this week. It's a constant logistical mess.”

Last season the team conquered so much adversity, but many athletes posted personal bests, their first World Cup victories, or podiums, and of course Jessie Diggins won the Tour de Ski and the overall and distance World Cup Titles. So heading into this season, everyone on the team has risen to the challenge of competing under the “new” normal. “It's not one person pulling the team,” said Diggins. “Is every single person showing everyday how they can make this team better!”

For a team that competes the entire season in Europe, the athletes have adapted well to life on the road with limited opportunities, outside of FaceTime, to see their family and friends. Heading into the 2022 Olympics, every team will face the same challenges with family and friends banned from the Games in China. But American cross country athletes will have a significant advantage.

“There's no team that travels internationally better than ours,” Whitcomb said. ‘“The Europeans are clearly at a disadvantage. Beyond that, what's unique about China is that we will be in the cold, and there is, you know, a 10th of an inch of precipitation in the month of February or something like that. So we know approximately what the weather is going to be like. And fortunately, with Swix, and L.L.Bean, we've been able to dial in some very warm options for clothing, and athletes will be prepared.”

Heading into Ruka this weekend, members of the Davis U.S. Cross Country Team will bring a mixed bag of expectations into the event, from reacquainting themselves with snow and skiing into race fitness to charging for the podium and World Cup points.

“Ruka has historically been a really tough course and a tough season opener,” said Hailey Swirbul, who brings a couple weeks of on-snow training into Finland, thanks to early-season snowfall in Alaska that offered her and her Alaska Pacific University Club teammates early season on-snow opportunities. “This year I'm just trying to stay positive, gain some race experience and hopefully hit the races later in (period 1) pretty hard.”

The team will have a mix of World Cup-experienced athletes and newbies this weekend, with three athletes making their World Cup debut, including Novie McCabe, Sydney Palmer-Leger and Zanden McMullen. Palmer-Leger is scheduled to start Friday’s classic sprint. McCabe will race in all events. McMulllen will compete in the men’s 15 classic Saturday, and the 15k freestyle pursuit Sunday.

One team member notable missing will be Scott Patterson, who plans to join the team next week in Lillehammer Norway. “We had Scott pull out just several days earlier because of a wrist that is healing,” Whitcomb said. 

FIS Cross Country World Cup
Ruka, Finland
Schedule/U.S. Starters

Friday, Nov. 26
Classic Sprint
Men

  • Gus Schumacher
  • JC Schoonmaker
  • Kevin Bolger
  • Logan Hanneman
  • Luke Jager
  • Ben Ogden

Women

  • Jessie Diggins
  • Rosie Brennan
  • Hailey Swirbul
  • Katharine Ogden
  • Sydney Palmer-Leger
  • Julia Kern
  • Hannah Halvorsen
  • Novie McCabe

Saturday, Nov. 27
Men’s 15k classic

  • Gus Schumacher
  • Hunter Wonders
  • Zanden McMullen
  • Ben Ogden
  • David Norris
  • Luke Jager

Women’s 10 Classic

  • Jessie Diggins
  • Rosie Brennan
  • Hailey Swirbul
  • Katharine Ogden
  • Sophia Laukli
  • Julia Kern
  • Novie McCabe
  • Caitlin Patterson

Sunday, Nov. 28
Men’s 15k freestyle pursuit

  • Gus Schumacher
  • Hunter Wonders
  • Zanden McMullen
  • Ben Ogden
  • David Norris
  • Luke Jager

Women’s 10k freestyle pursuit

  • Jessie Diggins
  • Rosie Brennan
  • Hailey Swirbul
  • Katharine Ogden
  • Sophia Laukli
  • Julia Kern
  • Novie McCabe
  • Caitlin Patterson

HOW TO WATCH 
All times EDT

Friday, Nov. 26
6:30 a.m. FIS Cross Country World Cup Men and Women’s Freestyle Sprint - LIVE,  Ruka, FIN, Streaming Peacock, Ski and Snowboard Live

Saturday, Nov. 27
4:15 a.m. FIS Cross Country World Cup Men’s 15k - LIVE,  Ruka, FIN, Streaming Peacock, Ski and Snowboard Live
7:30 a.m. FIS Cross Country World Cup Women’s 10k - LIVE,  Ruka, FIN, Streaming Peacock, Ski and Snowboard Live

Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021
4:20 a.m. FIS Cross Country World Cup Women’s 10k Pursuit - LIVE,  Ruka, FIN, Streaming Peacock, Ski and Snowboard Live
6:30 a.m. FIS Cross Country World Cup Men’s 15k Pursuit - LIVE,  Ruka, FIN, Streaming Peacock, Ski and Snowboard Live

Current television broadcast and streaming schedules for all sports are available here

Sport-specific broadcast and streaming schedules are available below:

Broadcast and streaming are updated on the U.S. Ski & Snowboard website throughout the season.
 

2021-22 FIS World Cup Schedule
2022 Olympic Winter Games Schedule

Follow the Davis U.S. Cross Country Team:
Instagram: @usskiteam
Facebook: @usskiandsnowboard
TikTok: @usskiandsnowboard
Twitter: @usskiteam