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Blunck, Shiffrin Nominated for Team USA Awards - December

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
January, 7 2019
Mikaela Team USA Awards
Mikaela Shiffrin became the first athlete - male or female - to win in all six currently contested alpine disciplines in December. (Martin Rauscher-SEPA.Media/Getty Images)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The United States Olympic Committee has announced finalists for the Team USA Awards, Best of December, which recognize the outstanding achievements of Team USA athletes from last month. U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes and Colorado natives Mikaela Shiffrin (Avon, Colo.) and Aaron Blunck (Crested Butte, Colo.) have each been nominated. 

Shiffrin was nominated for Best Female Athlete of the Month, as a result of her outstanding achievements on the FIS Ski World Cup throughout the month of December, namely winning six world cup races across four different disciplines, and becoming the first athlete – male or female – in the history of the sport to win in all six alpine disciplines.

Blunck, nominated for Best Male Athlete of the Month, won the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe in Copper Mountain, Colorado, and secured a second-place finish in the inaugural modified halfpipe at the Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colorado.

A total of 10 sports – including alpine skiing, bowling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, long track speedskating, Para Nordic skiing, rugby sevens, sled hockey, swimming and taekwondo – are represented among the 13 finalists across men’s, women’s and team categories. The finalists’ collective accomplishments tell the inspiring story of U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes year-round. 

Fans can vote for Shiffrin and Blunck through midnight on Tuesday, Jan. 8 on Team USA's website.

Patterson, Norris Win U.S. Distance Titles

By Reese Brown
January, 6 2019
Men's Start
Men's 30k start at the L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Reese Brown)

Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury, Vt.) won the women’s 20k freestyle and David Norris (Fairbanks, Alaska) won the men’s 30k freestyle at the L.L. Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Craftsbury, Vermont, Sunday.

Patterson led the large women’s field out of the start and emerged on the second lap with second place finisher Rosie Frankowski (Minneapolis, Minn.), with the two exchanging leads occasionally. Part way through the second lap, Patterson moved to the front and maintained the lead into the finish. Jessica Yeaton (APU / Australia) was third for the day with Hailey Swirbul (APU / El Jebel, Colo.) being the third American.

“It was great to be skiing here on my home trails as I know these downhills so well and had great skis thanks to my techs,” said Patterson. “It was my focus to ski really smoothly and I worked the transitions, worked the downhills and just smoothly skied away. Today was a really fun race.”

The men battled the entire six-lap race with a lead group of three developing midway into the race.  The group worked together with many lead changes until Norris cracked the group on the final big climb not far from the stadium.  Kyle Bratrud (SMST2 / Eden Prairie, Minn.) was second with Scott Patterson (APU / Anchorage, Alaska) in third.

“There were several lead changes throughout the race and with about one k to go I went to the front and put in a 45-second hard push,” said Norris. “When I checked over my shoulder and saw that I had a little clearance and I figured I committed so I had to push all the way to the line.”

The Championships head into their second rest day and finish on Tuesday with a freestyle sprint.

RESULTS
Men’s freestyle 30k
Women’s freestyle 20k

HOW TO WATCH
All times EST

Tuesday, Jan. 8
8:45 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships freestyle sprint - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming

Diggins Digs Deep to Finish Sixth in Tour de Ski

By Tom Horrocks
January, 6 2019
Diggins
Jessie Diggins climbs the final stretch in stage 7 of the FIS Cross Country World Cup Tour de Ski in Val di Fiemme, Italy, Sunday. (Getty Images/Action Plus - Pierre Teyssot)

Jessie Diggin (Afton, Minn.) dug deep into the pain cave and wrapped up the FIS Cross Country World Cup Tour de Ski in sixth overall following the brutal 7th stage climb up the famed Alpe Cermis in Val di Fiemme - well known to be the toughest race of the entire season.

“Today, like yesterday, my body was feeling run down and incredibly tired,” Diggins said after finishing sixth in the stage that averaged 12-percent, with a few pitches reaching 28-percent. “But I was proud of my effort and for never giving up, fighting my way up that crazy mountain! It’s really hard to describe the bone-deep tired feeling you get when you’ve been pushing your body so hard for so long, and it’s insane how painful it is when you finally reach the top of the final climb. It’s also one of the most satisfying feelings in the world because you know you’ve just done something so amazingly hard.”

After winning the 6th stage of the Tour de Ski on Saturday, Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg held a 53-second lead over Russian Natalia Nepryaeva heading into the final stage. Østberg held off Nepryaeva for the stage win to secure the overall Tour de Ski title. Russia’s Anastasia Sedova was third.

Competing in seven races over a nine-day stretch is a true athletic achievement and the rewards list goes well beyond just finishing. For Diggins, the hard work she put in to reach this point of the season is not only mentally satisfying but physically she packed her bank of fitness, which will pay dividends the rest of the season.

“What I really wanted to get out of the Tour in the big picture was the fitness boost that I get every year from doing something so incredibly hard and then resting and recovering well,’ she said. “So for the next 13 days, my focus will be on resting up, enjoying my time with my family in Seefeld, and then preparing for Otepää (Estonia). I’m skipping Dresden (Germany) to make sure I absorb all the Tour races well, but I’m excited for the rest of the season, and super excited to cheer on our sprinters!”

Mentally, Diggins leaves the Tour satisfied with everything she left out on the track.

“The older I get, the easier it is to remember to look at the big picture and remember that what makes a “good” race is determined by factors you don’t see on the results board,” Diggins said. “And for me, I was really proud of this tour because I had a lot of “good” races where I raced with grit, determination, and fought like crazy to do the very best I could with what I had in my body.”

In the men’s race, Norway’s Johannes Høsflot Klæbo won the 7th stage to secure the overall title and the record as the youngest Tour de Ski winner in history. Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov finished second and Norway's Simen Hegstad Krüger was third. Ben Lustgarten was the only American still in the Tour finishing all seven stages.

RESULTS
Men’s 9k hill climb
Women’s 9k hill climb

STANDINGS
Men’s Tour de Ski - through 7 of 7 stages
Women’s Tour de Ski - through 7 of 7 stages

Shiffrin Crowned Snow Queen Once Again in Zagreb

By Tom Horrocks
January, 5 2019
2019 Snow Queen Shiffrin
Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates her fourth Snow Queen title in Zagreb, Croatia, Saturday. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom - Christophe Pallot)

Mikaela Shiffrin (Avon, Colo.) is back to her old ways again - winning slalom races by more than a second!

For the fourth time in her career, Shiffrin was crowned the “Snow Queen” following her FIS Ski World Cup slalom win in Zagreb, Croatia, Saturday. This was also her seventh-straight World Cup slalom win and her 37th career slalom victory. And once again, she defeated Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, who settled for second for the fourth time this season; and Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener who rounded out the podium in third.

Shiffrin’s 1.25-second margin of victory is her largest since she defeated Holdener by 1.58 seconds on March 17, 2018, in Are, Sweden. In the two World Cup slaloms leading up to Zagreb, Vlhova was second at just .29-seconds back in Courchevel, France, and Semmering, Austria. But Saturday, Shiffrin demonstrated why she is indeed the best skier in the world, especially on a hard, fast track.

“It’s the perfect track to be aggressive,” said Shiffrin, who also won seven-straight slalom races in 2016. “I just tried to do my best, and the surface was perfect, so it’s easier to be really aggressive.”

Shiffrin took a 1.15-second first-run lead over Holdener. In the second run, Vlhova put the pressure on both Holdener and Shiffrin with a flawless run. With Vlhova sitting in the hot seat, Shiffrin opened up a 1.36-second advantage at the first interval and was well on her way to victory before a small bobble cost her 0.51 seconds. But in typical Shiffrin fashion, she shifted gears and pulled back time for her 52nd career World Cup win.

“I had a scary moment in the middle there, but actually the second run was really cool because I was aggressive,” Shiffrin said. “I was really pushing. I had this mistake, but after that, I was fighting back again. I wasn’t skiing to protect something today.”

Paula Moltzan (Burlington, Vt.) started 28th in the first run and finished 12th. She was well on her way to a career-best result in the second run but cut a gate too tight near the finish, straddled, and DNF’d.

The women race slalom again on Tuesday in Flachau, Austria, followed by a speed series in

St. Anton, Austria, Jan. 10-13 and giant slalom in Kronplatz, Italy, Jan. 15. After competing in six events over the past 15 days, Shiffrin is balancing training and rest, while working on her race plans heading into the World Championships in Are, Sweden, Feb. 4-17.

“It’s a little bit up in the air right now,” Shiffrin said of her upcoming race plans. “After Oslo, I was thinking ‘I’m pretty tired,’ and coming (to Zagreb) I felt pretty good today. But it’s difficult to manage the energy. So my plan is to do Cortina (Italy) - all the races. But I’m not sure if it’s going to work out. Basically, I’m going to decide about that after Kronplatz and see how the training goes.”

Shiffrin leads the overall World Cup standings by 496 points over Vlhova. She also leads the slalom and super-G standings and is third in the giant slalom standings.

RESULTS
Women’s slalom

STANDINGS
Women’s World Cup overall

HOW TO WATCH
All times EST

Sunday, Jan. 6
6:15 a.m. - Men’s slalom run 1 - Zagreb, CRO - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
9:30 a.m. - Men’s slalom run 2 - Zagreb, CRO - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold

Tuesday, Jan. 8
12:00 p.m. - Women’s slalom run 1 - Flachau, AUT - NBC Sports Gold
2:45 p.m.  - Women’s slalom run 2 - Flachau, AUT - NBC Sports Gold

Saturday, Jan. 12
4:15 a.m. - Men’s giant slalom run 1 - Adelboden, SUI - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
5:45 a.m. - Women’s downhill - St. Anton, AUT  - NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. - Men’s giant slalom run 2 - Adelboden, SUI - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold

Sunday, Jan. 13
4:15 a.m. - Men’s slalom run 1 - Adelboden, SUI - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
5:45 a.m. - Women’s super-G - St. Anton, AUT  - NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. - Men’s slalom run 2 - Adelboden, SUI - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
 

Diggins Sixth in Tour de Ski With One Stage Remaining

By Reese Brown
January, 5 2019
10k Mass Start
Noway's Oestberg skiing to the win in stage six of the Tour de Ski (Getty Images - Trond Tandberg)

Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) limited her loses in Saturday’s sixth stage of the FIS Ski World Cup Tour de Ski, a 10k classic in Val di Fiemme, Italy. Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Oestburg, who leads the Tour, went out strong and led the entire race Saturday for her third stage win.

“I was really proud of how I raced today,” said Diggins, who finished seventh, one minute, 19 seconds off Oestburg’s winning time. “My body just totally ran out of gas on me but I never gave up and never stopped pushing myself as hard as I could go. My skis were really competitive and I’m so proud of our team for working so hard. This far into the tour you never know how your body will react, but all you can do is race as hard as possible, and that’s my plan going into tomorrow.”

Russians Natalia Nepryaeva was second and Anastasia Sedova was third.

“Today was definitely not the day we were hoping for, but not a disaster,” said U.S. Cross Country Team Head Coach Matt Whitcomb. “Every day this late in the Tour is a wildcard. Jessie did everything she could to limit her losses, but in the end, she dropped in the overall to sixth. One thing to know about Jessie is she never puts a limit on what she can do. We are all looking forward to Sunday’s hill climb.”

The men’s race was won by Norway’s Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo, in second was Italy’s Francesco De Fabiani with Alexander Bolshunov of Russia in third. Klaebo continues to lead the Tour.

The Tour wraps up on Sunday with the grueling 9k hill climb up the famed Alpe Cermis in Val di Fiemme.

RESULTS
Men’s 15k
Women’s 10k

STANDINGS
Men’s Overall (through 6 stages)
Women’s Overall (through 6 stages)

HOW TO WATCH
All times EST

Saturday, Jan. 5
2:00 p.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 6 men’s 15k mass start - Val di Fiemme, ITA - Olympic Channel-TV*

Sunday, Jan. 6
7:00 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 7 women’s hill climb - Val di Fiemme, ITA - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
9:15 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships mass start - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming
8:45 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 7 men’s hill climb - Val di Fiemme, ITA - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
2:00 p.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 7 men’s hill climb - Val di Fiemme, ITA - Olympic Channel-TV

Tuesday, Jan. 8
8:45 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships freestyle sprint - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming

Will Shiffrin Be Crowned Snow Queen Once Again?

By Megan Harrod
January, 4 2019
Shiffrin Snow Queen 2018
Will Mikaela Shiffrin be crowned "Snow Queen" for the fourth time?! (Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

The White Circus has moved from Oslo, Norway, to Zagreb/Sljeme, Croatia, where FIS Ski World Cup athletes will compete under the lights for the “Snow Queen Trophy.” I don’t know what it is about Zagreb, it’s just kind of...special. There’s just something about it.

It could be the fact that it’s an event in a city, but it’s not a “city event.” That’s unique. One of the best Christmas markets in Europe still lines the streets and the smells of sausages and mulled wine fill our nostrils. It could be that the all of the teams - both men and women - stay in the same hotel and the race organizers work together with the city to shut down the main road and the entire World Cup circuit caravans up to the hill in a police-escorted convoy. It could be that the second run is under the lights. Or that the winner sits in a throne and is crowned “Snow Queen.” You get the drift - like a magical unicorn, it’s one-of-a-kind. To put it most simply, this city sparkles and Mikaela Shiffrin (Avon, Colo.) has sparkled three times here, crowned queen in 2013, 2015 and 2018.

Shiffrin kicked off the new year in Oslo with a second place finish, propelling her to 1,114 points in her quest for her third consecutive overall title. That’s 446 more points than Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, in second. To give that lead more context, and as Barry Svrluga from the Washington Post wrote in a recent article entitled, “The world’s most dominant athlete at the moment is 23 years old, and getting better”:

Here, then, are Mikaela Shiffrin’s eight most recent results on the World Cup alpine ski circuit: first, first, first, first, first, fifth, first, second. The gap between Shiffrin and the skier in second place in the World Cup’s overall standings, Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, covers the gap between Vlhova and Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather, who is in — get this — 14th.

It seems that every weekend there is a new record to break, and Shiffrin is showing her dominance week in and week out. In Semmering, Shiffrin won her 36th World Cup slalom race, breaking the ladies' record of 35 set by her childhood idol Marlies Schild. That gave her 15 wins in the calendar year — the most for any athlete ever — male or female. Tomorrow, she could win her seventh successive World Cup slalom race. As Shiffrin has said, she’s not motivated by the numbers, but let’s talk about them anyway.

Here’s the rundown of what’s on tap for records tomorrow (courtesy of FIS and Gracenote Sports):

  • Among men and women, only Ingemar Stenmark (40) has won more World Cup slalom events than Shiffrin (36).
  • Shiffrin has won 51 World Cup races, seventh most all-time. Vreni Schneider (55) and Hermann Maier (54) are in fifth and sixth place respectively.  
  • Shiffrin could equal her personal record winning run of seven successive World Cup slalom wins, set in 2016. The only women on more successive wins are Vreni Schneider (8, 1988-1989) and Janica Kostelic (8, 2000- 2001).  
  • Shiffrin could become the fourth woman to win a World Cup slalom race in eight different calendar years, after Marlies Schild (10), Vreni Schneider (10) and Pernilla Wiberg (8).
  • Shiffrin has won 11 of the last 12 slalom races on the World Cup, with the only exception the race in Lenzerheide on 28 January 2018 where she failed to finish her second run (winner: Petra Vlhová).
  • In her last 33 appearances in a World Cup slalom race, Shiffrin has recorded 27 first places, two second-place results, two third places, and two DNFs.  
  • Shiffrin has claimed three World Cup victories in the slalom in Zagreb, in 2013, 2015 and 2018. She has only claimed more World Cup slalom victories in Åre (4).
  • Only Schild (4) has won more among women in the Croatian ski resort than Shiffrin (3).

Taking all of this into consideration, Shiffrin is the clear favorite for tomorrow, but Slovakia’s Vlhova, Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter, and the Swiss Wendy Holder are all skiing fast and gunning for Shiffrin. “Of course I like the track here [in Zagreb], I’ve had some great races here, but I’ve also had some difficult races here,” Shiffrin said prior to bib draw at the “Ice Park” in King Tomislav Square Friday night, where athletes ice skated to their bibs. For Saturday, it’s just full focus and full aggression and we’ll see how it goes. It’s easy to lose momentum when you have a couple of days off [over the holiday]; right now it’s important to be really focused and maintain the energy so I can fight hard. And I think it’s going to be a fight tomorrow.”

Mikaela Shiffrin Atop The Zagreb Throne
Mikaela Shiffrin and team laugh after Shiffrin struggles with her champagne bottle atop the throne in 2018. (Cristophe Pallot/Agence Zoom)


After scoring in two consecutive World Cups, with a 17th in Killington, Vermont and her first top 15 (15th) in Courchevel, France, Paula Moltzan (Prior Lake, Minn.) — who also skis for the University of Vermont — will look to lay down some fast skiing once again here in Zagreb. Moltzan will also be starting in Flachau, Austria on Tuesday, where she scored her first World Cup points in 2016. The track in Zagreb is hard and icy, but Moltzan skied on ice in the midwest and crushes it in the east coast at university races, so she thrives in these conditions and is looking forward to tomorrow’s race.

On the men’s side, Mark Engel (Salt Lake City, Utah) will be holding down the fort for the Americans, while River Radamus (Edwards, Colo.) and Luke Winters (Gresham, Ore.) compete in the NorAm series in Canada.

Catch all of the action on NBC Sports Gold and the Olympic Channel, so make sure to tune in. See who to watch and where to catch all the action below.

ZAGREB STARTERS
Mark Engel
Paula Moltzan
Mikaela Shiffrin

START LIST
Women’s Slalom

HOW TO WATCH
All times EST.
Preliminary schedule, subject to change
*Same-day delayed broadcast

Saturday, Jan. 5
7:00 a.m. - Women’s slalom run 1 - Zagreb, CRO - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
10:00 a.m. - Women’s slalom run 2 - Zagreb, CRO - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com& NBC Sports Gold

Sunday, Jan. 6
6:15 a.m. - Men’s slalom run 1 - Zagreb, CRO - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
9:30 a.m. - Men’s slalom run 2 - Zagreb, CRO - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold

All streams are available via desktop (NBCSports.com/Live, NBCSports.com/Gold andOlympicChannel.com) as well as mobile, tablet and connected television platforms. The NBC Sports app, NBC Sports Gold app and Olympic Channel app are available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire. Exclusive commercial-free coverage will be available for subscribers of the NBC Sports Gold Pass.

Sargent, Saxton Win U.S. Classic Sprint Titles

By Tom Horrocks
January, 4 2019
Women's podium
Ida Sargent (center) won classic sprint Friday at the L.L.Bean U.S Cross Country Championships at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Craftsbury, Vermont. Julia Kern (left) was second and Hannah Halvorsen was third. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Reese Brown)

Ida Sargent (Craftsbury Green Racing Project / Craftsbury, Vt.) and Julien Locke (Black Jack Ski Team / Canadian National Ski Team) skied to classic sprint victories the 2019 L.L.Bean U.S Cross Country Championships at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Craftsbury, Vermont, Friday. Ben Saxton (SMST2 / Stratton Mountain, Vt.) finished second and was the top American in the men's race.

Sargent skied to her first national title as sunshine and outstanding snow conditions greeted athletes for the second day of the Championships. After posting the fastest qualifying time, Sargent cruised through quarterfinal round. In the semifinals, she narrowly defeated Kaitlynn Miller (Craftsbury Green Racing Project / ) and a hard-charging Hannah Halvorsen (Alaska Pacific University / Truckee, Calif) in the three-up sprint.

In the finals, Sargent skied alone to the line for the victory as Halvorsen and Julia Kern (SMST2 / Waltham, Mass.) sprinted for the final two podium positions with Kern just taking second by inches.

In the men’s race, Saxton entered the heats as the top qualifier while Locke ninth. However, Locke easily cruised through his quarter-final and semi-final heats to advance to the finals, while Saxton won his quarterfinal heat and finished second in the semifinals to advance to the final race of the day.

Locke skied away from the fields midway through the finals and cruised to victory as Saxton held off Logan Hanneman (APU Nordic Ski Center) down the stretch to take the U.S. title.

Kendall Kramer (NSCF-FXC) and James Kitch (Harvard University Ski Team) each won their respective junior women and men’s national titles.

RESULTS
Men and women’s classic sprint
Junior men and women’s classic sprint

HOW TO WATCH
All times EST

Sunday, Jan. 6.
9:15 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships freestyle mass start - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming

Tuesday, Jan. 8
8:45 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships freestyle sprint - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming

Bratrud, Patterson Win Classic Titles at L.L.Bean U.S Cross Country Championships

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
January, 3 2019
Men's podium
Kyle Bratrud (center) won the men's 15k classic while Adam Martin (left) was second and Kris Freeman in third. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Reese Brown)

The 2019 L.L.Bean U.S Cross Country Championships began Thursday with the men’s 15k classic and the women’s 10k classic at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Craftsbury, Vermont. More than 575 racers took to the start on a challenging course covered in two inches of fresh snow to battle for national titles.

The senior men’s race was won by Kyle Bratrud (Minneapolis, Minn.), followed by Adam Martin (Wausau, Wis.) in second and Kris Freeman (Waterville Valley, N.H.) in third.

Gus Schumacher (Anchorage, Alaska) took the junior men’s title with Ben Ogden (Landgrove, Vt.) second and Johnny Hagerbuch (Sun Valley, Idaho) in third.

The senior women’s race was won by Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury, Vt.) with Australia’s Jessica Yeaton in second and Kaitlynn Miller (Craftsbury, Vt.) in third.

The junior women’s race was won by Kendall Kramer (Fairbanks, Alaska.). Novie McCabe (Methow Valley, Wash.) was second and Molly Gellert (Fairbanks, Alaska.) finished third.

The L.L.Bean U.S Cross Country Championship continues Friday with the men’s and women’s classic sprint.

RESULTS
Men’s 15k
Women’s 10k

HOW TO WATCH
All times EST

Friday, Jan. 4
9:15 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships classic sprint - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming

Sunday, Jan. 6.
9:15 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships freestyle mass start - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming

Tuesday, Jan. 8
8:45 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships freestyle sprint - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming

 

Diggins Climbs To Third Overall Through Five Tour de Ski Stages

By Reese Brown
January, 3 2019
Stage 5 podium
Winner Ingvild Flugstad Ostberg of Norway (left), Yulia Belorukova of Russia, and Jessica Diggins celebrates after stage 5 of the Tour de Ski in Oberstdorf, Germany. (Getty Images - Trond Tandberg)

Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) skied an all-out 10k pursuit to finish third and claw back valuable time on the leaders in stage 5 of the FIS Cross Country World Cup Tour de Ski in Oberstdorf, Germany, Thursday.

Diggins, as part of a trio that included Krista Parmakoski of Finland and Yulia Belorukova of Russia, did most of the work on the track and edged Beluorukova at the line by 0.1 seconds, and posted the fastest time of the day in the process. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg of Norway won the stage, followed by Natalia Nepryaeva of Russia in second.

“It was really fun working with Krista today, I love skiing with her because we share the work of leading and end up having a great race overall,” Diggins said. “It was so awesome getting the time of day win today and third in the tour in front of my parents and sister who came all the way over to cheer for the last three stages of the tour!”

Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) was the only other U.S. starter and finished 11th for the day.

“Well, that’s a wrap for my Tour de Ski racing this season, signing out in 11th place,” Bjornsen said. “I decided to not complete the tour this year in order to get a good training block in without too much race fatigue. With my heart set on World Championships this year, my coach and I made a plan to only go through five stages. It’s one of the hardest things in the world to drop from the tour because it’s my favorite racing of the season, but I have big goals ahead in February.

On the men’s side, the only U.S. starter was Ben Lustgarten (Burlington, Vt.) moving up one spot and finishing 54th for the day. The day was won by Norway’s Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo with Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov in second and Alexander Bolshunov also of Russia in third. Klaebo maintains the lead in the overall.

The Tour de Ski resumes with stage 6 Saturday in Val di Fiemme, Italy, with a 10k mass start for the women and 15k mass start for the men. 

RESULTS
Men’s 15k pursuit
Women’s 10k pursuit

STANDINGS
Men’s overall (through 5 stages)
Women’s overall (through 5 stages)

HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
*Same-day delayed broadcast

Friday, Jan. 4
9:15 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships classic sprint - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming

Saturday, Jan. 5
8:00 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 6 women’s 10k mass start - Val di Fiemme, ITA - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
9:10 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 6 men’s 15k mass start - Val di Fiemme, ITA - OlympicChannel.com &NBC Sports Gold
2:00 p.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 6 men’s 15k mass start - Val di Fiemme, ITA - Olympic Channel-TV*

Sunday, Jan. 6
7:00 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 7 women’s hill climb - Val di Fiemme, ITA - Olympic Channel-TV,OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
9:15 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships mass start - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming
8:45 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 7 men’s hill climb - Val di Fiemme, ITA - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
2:00 p.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 7 men’s hill climb - Val di Fiemme, ITA - Olympic Channel-TV

Tuesday, Jan. 8
8:45 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships freestyle sprint - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming

Patient Notes: Dichotomies

By Breezy Johnson
January, 3 2019
Breezy Johnson - Patient Notes, v.4
Breezy Johnson in the start gate at the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain in November 2017. (Troy Tully)

Editor's Note:
Breezy Johnson (Victor, ID) sustained an ACL tear in September that has sidelined her for the 2019 season. Throughout Johnson's road to recovery, she'll be sharing the ups and downs of rehabilitation here in a column of her own, entitled "Patient Notes," in hopes that you will follow along for the journey to learn how challenging it is both physically and mentally to return to snow at the elite level. Being an injured athlete can be challenging and lonely, and we're hoping that by writing this column, Johnson will be able to stay connected to the community and her sponsors.

Johnson kicked off her series with a poignant pre-surgery piece with Patient Notes: Volume 2, she brought you all the post-op nitty gritty, and with Patient Notes: Volume 3, she talked about ferocity and frustration. She's thankful for your support and invites you to follow along on her Instagram. All of the words below are Johnson's thoughts, straight from her journal to your computer screen.

Enjoy the journey,

Megan Harrod 
Alpine Communications Manager

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12/11/2018: 82 days post-Op, 99 days post injury

Dichotomies

Perhaps this has been the hardest installment of this series to write. That is part of why it has taken me so long. It seems I have hit the middle stage of recovery: the in between part where I am both progressing and content and also anxious and depressed. It’s difficult to say how this could be, but as I write it I find it to be undeniably true. I have reached a point of juxtapositions, where I am both happy and unhappy, worried and calm, lost and moving toward an obvious goal. My mind is trying to make sense of these dichotomies, but like quicksand, that often just ensnares me further.

I feel good. That has been both a blessing and a curse as it did prior to surgery. My knee hardly causes me discomfort, perhaps less than some of my body’s other aches and pains. This is good - swelling and pain are never things that you want to deal with. But the relief from my body has frustrated my mind. I want to run. I want to jump. I can feel the lack of strength and I crave to banish it as soon as possible. And yet I cannot, bound as I am to a set of rules that I hardly understand and that seem to constantly tell me no. I also feel distinctly not good. My impatience and insatiability for progress is one part of this. The start of the World Cup speed tour is another part. A big part.

I thought I would be fine. I had watched previous recordings of Lake Louise and Garmisch. I watched, and even looked forward to, Levi and Killington. But watching your peers carry on without you is a whole different battle. Watching your races is something else. I didn’t watch Lake Louise live. I couldn’t. At the time I was in Beaver Creek watching the men and I quickly found watching the ladies to be more challenging than it ought to have been considering we were at a ski race. I heard the results. It stung to be sure.

I love my fellow competitors on the World Cup, but it is difficult to not feel like I could have, would have, beaten them. But when I watched the race a whole different problem occurred: I could practically feel my muscles trying to jump out of my skin and into my television screen. I physically itched to get back there. I watched Mikaela’s run in both Lake Louise and St. Moritz and it was as though I was skiing it. It was amazing for those blissful moments when I could forget that I was sitting on the couch and not rocketing off of jumps, feeling my stomach jump into my throat. And then I would come crashing back to reality, to reality that I was not in fact there, that her runs, her amazing runs, were not in fact my own. That I was at home and could not go get swiss chocolate afterwards, and I felt farther from my return to the White Circus than ever.

We ski racers are sprinters. A maximum of two minutes of pure adrenaline and we’re done. Injury perhaps is better designed for marathoners, an aerobic endeavor to be sure. Perhaps I’m just not built for a recovery that takes months; I’m more of a minute-to-minute gal. The amount of time I have taken on my recovery both reminds me of how far I have come, which I am grateful for, but also serves to tell me just how long the remainder will take. Even though I am hoping to get back on snow in a relatively short time frame, my time until I am back on a race course, until I truly get to live the feeling I saw Mikaela living in Lake Louise and St. Moritz, seems an ungodly amount of time still left ahead of me.

I wish I could write a happy-go-lucky post. I wish I could just feel that all is well because there are things that are going great and I am very excited about that. I’m moving into plyometrics and I had good strength test results, which are good signs. But I am always seeking to get better, I constantly want more, and I struggle with being content with what is. Somehow I get in front of this page and I suddenly write down my deepest struggles. I come here and my mind becomes strung between feeling as though I ought to be happy and fine and the reality which is that I feel conflicted and bitter sometimes but also pleased and fortunate. And I don’t know if that is likely to change in the near future. And I know now that “near future” is a very relative term.

Perhaps the only thing keeping these chaotic thoughts from swelling up and engulfing me whole has been the friends I have created, mostly in the PT room at the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah. Almost weekly, we all meet up for dinner to laugh and joke and both forget about our injuries and discuss them. We take pictures and hang out and my friends make me feel less alone.  They distract me and comfort me and remind me that while we are not on the tour, our injuries are just a detour on our way back to the World Cup.