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Claire Second In World Cup Big Air

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
September, 7 2018
Claire Second
Caroline Claire (left) celebrates on the podium with Canada's Elena Gaskell and Yuki Tsubota at the first FIS Freeski World Cup big air of the season Friday. (Winter Games NZ / Iain McGregor)

Caroline Claire (Manchester Center, Vt.) kicked off the first FIS Freeski World Cup big air of the season with a second-place finish at Cardrona Alpine Resort Friday.

Blue skies and calm conditions welcomed some of the world’s best freeskiers on top of Cardrona’s 75-foot big air jump, making for a perfect background to the final freeski event of the two-week Winter Games NZ. 

Claire pulled a switch 900 octo grab on her first jump, and a left 720 tail grab on her second to land on the podium. Canada’s Elena Gaskell stomped her switch 1260 on her second run of three, holding her mute grab all the way to claim her first World Cup victory. Canada’s Yuki Tsubota was third.

In the men’s event, Switzerland’s reigning slopestyle World Cup champion Andri Ragettli rebounded from his first run crash with a triple 1620 truckdriver on his second run, and a perfectly stomped switch triple 1440 truck driver on run three to grab the victory. Canada’s Evan McEachran was second, and local Finn Bilous of New Zealand was third. No U.S. men qualified for the finals.

The FIS Freeski World Cup season will be back in action again in two months with the second stop in Modena, Italy on November 4. 

Men’s big air finals
Women’s big air finals

Claire Lands Big Air Podium

Mack, Corning Qualify for Big Air Finals

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
September, 6 2018
Kyle Mack
Kyle Mack stomped a backside triple 1440 Japan grab to qualify for the big air finals at the opening FIS Snowboard World Cup big air finals Saturday at Cardrona Alpine Resort. (Winter Games NZ / Jay French)

Chris Corning (Silverthorne, Colo.) and Kyle Mack (West Bloomfield, Mich.) led the way for the U.S. Snowboard Team in qualifying at the opening FIS Snowboard World Cup big air of the season at Cardrona Alpine Resort in New Zealand Thursday. 

Mack, the 2018 Olympic big air silver medalist, stomped a backside triple 1440 Japan grab and a score of 90.60 for the top qualifying spot in heat one. No stranger to World Cup podiums, Corning booked his place in the finals with a backside triple 1440 melon and a 91.40 on run one in the second qualifying heat. 

The finals for the first World Cup big air of the season are scheduled for Saturday at Cardrona Alpine Resort. Tune in to the for coverage of the snowboard big air finals Saturday, 10 p.m. EDT, in the U.S.

Men's snowboard big air qualifying

Men's snowboard big air finals

Diggins, Saxton Win At Snow Farm

By Reese Brown
September, 6 2018
Jessie Diggins beats Caitlin Patterson
Jessie Diggins out-sprinted Caitlin Patterson for the victory in Thursday's 10k classic at the Snow Farm. (Winter Games NZ / Ross McKay)

Jessie Diggins (Stratton, Vt.) and Ben Saxton (Stratton, Vt.) won the final 10k and 15k classic races of the Winter Games NZ in hard-fought battles with a small but strong field Thursday at the Snow Farm.

"The groomer was finished with course preparations by 11 p.m., so the tracks set up like steel rails and made for some fantastic klister skiing this morning," stated U.S. Ski & Snowboard Head Women's Coach Matt Whitcomb.

In the women's race, Diggins outlasted Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury, Vt.) in the end, but the race was exciting with Patterson challenging Diggins on every downhill, and Diggins regaining the lead through the striding sections. Ida Sargent (Craftsbury, Vt.) took third.

"It's been so awesome getting the chance to sharpen up our race skills here in New Zealand," Diggins said after the race. "It feels so good to be back on snow and hammering again. As always, a warm thank you to the volunteers and race organizers for putting on a great series and making us some challenging courses."

In the men's race, Saxton kept his cool within a six-strong pack and pounced at the end with a strong double pole sprint to beat Adam Martin (Craftsbury Common, Vt.) to the line. Ben Lustgarten (Burlington, Vt.) in third.

"The international field pushed the pace relentlessly, which made for an exciting race," Saxton said. "I felt truly lucky to have so many little breaks go my way throughout the race, and I was thankful my legs didn't feel like cement when we sprinted for the line."

After two weeks on snow, Matt Whitcomb summed up the New Zealand camp so far with encouragement for more athletes to experience the outstanding Southern Hemisphere conditions.

"From the outside, this camp seems a bit impractical given the amount of travel skiers from North America endure to get here,” Whitcomb said. “But once you participate in this three-week camp, it quickly starts to make sense why the U.S. Ski Team has been coming here for over 20 years.  Next year I'd like to see more Americans take advantage of the Merino Muster and the New Zealand Winter Games.  This mid-winter skiing is just too good."

"It has been really fun to be able to put a bib on down here and go hard,” added Sargent. “We've had an awesome camp with amazing conditions and this is a great way to end it.”

The U.S. Cross Country Ski Team camp continues at the Snow Farm through September 10. The U.S. Cross Country Ski Team sends a special thanks to the Snow Farm and all the volunteers that have made this camp so successful.

Men's 15k classic
Women's 10k Classic

Bolger, Caldwell Win Winter Games NZ Freestyle Sprint

By Reese Brown
September, 5 2018
Kevin Bolger won the men’s freestyle sprint at the Winter Games NZ Wednesday
Kevin Bolger won the men’s freestyle sprint at the Winter Games NZ Wednesday. (photo: Lennon Bright)

Kevin Bolger (Sun Valley, Idaho) won the men’s freestyle sprint and Sophie Caldwell (Stratton Mountain, Vt.) led a U.S. sweep in the women’s freestyle sprint at the Winter Games NZ Wednesday.

“We had a short and tactical course today for the skate sprint," said Sophie Caldwell.  “I was happy with how I felt and how the race went. It was fun toeing the line with so many teammates and good to practice running through a sprint format.”

Bolger edged out Ben Saxton (Stratton, Vt. ) for the win, and Japan’s Tomoki Sato was third.

“Couldn't have been a better day down here for a sprint - weather, grooming, it was all top notch,” Kevin Bolger said.  “Going in to today’s sprint I kept a super open mind. These early races are a great learning experience, it gives us a chance to try new tactics, a different warm up, without any pressure. But of course I’m very happy to finish the day on top.”

“Today was another cold, bluebird day,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard women’s cross country ski coach Matt Whitcomb. “The sprint course set up firm and fast overnight, so everyone was on rockets.”

“The longer men’s course proved to be quite tactical, with three sharp turns in the first 60 seconds of racing,” Whitcomb added. “The stadium had a consistent headwind all day, so drafting kept the heats very close. Interestingly, the finish stretch was short enough that not a lot of passing happened out of the draft, so those that lead from the front tended to win. The allure of the draft in the headwind ended up being a bit of a trap.”

In the women’s race, Caldwell beat out fellow U.S. Cross Country Ski Team member Ida Sargent (Craftsbury, Vt.), who finished second, and Kelsey Phinney (Stratton, Vt.) in third.

Winter Games NZ continues Thursday with a 10k classic mass start for the women, and a 15k classic mass start for the men. The U.S. Cross Country Ski Team camp continues at the Snow Farm through September 10.

Men’s freestyle sprint
Women’s freestyle sprint

L.L.Bean, Swix Announce Partnership with U.S. Cross Country Ski Team

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
September, 5 2018
U.S. Ski & Snowboard Company Logo

PARK CITY, Utah  ­— Internationally recognized outdoor retailer L.L.Bean, known for its legendary customer service and high-quality gear and apparel that help to further people’s enjoyment of the outdoors, and Swix, renowned for its cutting-edge technology in world-class competition and training wear, today announced a partnership with the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team.  

As official supplier to the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team, L.L.Bean will provide insulated outerwear and rainwear, as well as casual wear and hats. Swix will develop customized World Cup and World Championship race suits and performance jackets and pants. Both companies will share responsibility for summer training products.

“We are thrilled that Swix will be joining us in partnership with the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association,” said Christina Semanyshyn, L.L.Bean’s manager of strategic partnerships. “For more than sixty years, Swix has been one of the strongest, most recognized names in the ski industry, and L.L.Bean has been carrying our quality products for years. Like us, as well as U.S. Ski & Snowboard, they share our collective passion for living an active lifestyle and enabling people to get outside.”

“U.S Ski & Snowboard welcomes Swix as a clothing supplier to the U.S. Cross Country Team”, stated Dan Barnett, Chief Commercial Officer.  “The Swix product line complements L.L.Bean’s offerings and together will provide the comfort and performance the Team will need in the clothing category.  Swix’s product mix, technology and attention to detail will help the U.S. Cross Country Team achieve athletic excellence during the 2018-19 competition season.”


The U.S. Cross Country Ski Team achieved historic results last season with many top performances on the World Cup and at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.  On the World Cup, among many podiums, Jessie Diggins placed second overall with Sadie Bjornsen finishing sixth overall. Sophie Caldwell finished third overall in the Sprint category.  Diggins also finished third overall in the Tour de Ski. The season highlight was Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) and Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, Alaska) winning the gold medal in the in the Team Sprint at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

“I am thrilled that Swix will be a clothing supplier to the U.S. Cross Country Team, while simultaneously building on our strong partnership with premier retail partner, L.L.Bean,” said Swix Sport USA President & CEO Steve Poulin. “Together, we’re committed to ensuring this team will have unrivaled performance clothing while competing against the best in the world.”

“The U.S. Cross Country Ski Team athletes and staff are very excited to be wearing Swix this season,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard Head Cross Country coach Chris Grover.  “Swix has a long history of providing high-end performance wear for some of the best athletes and teams in the world. The fit, functionality and performance of Swix racing and training gear is world-class, and we’ll need this level of performance to meet our goals of winning multiple medals at the 2019 Seefeld Nordic World Championships. The combination of L.L.Bean outerwear and Swix performance gear is ideal for the USA program and we are grateful to both companies for their incredible support and their belief in United States’ cross country ski racing.”

About L.L.Bean, Inc.

L.L.Bean, Inc. is a leading multichannel merchant of quality outdoor gear and apparel. Founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean, the company began as a one-room operation selling a single product, the Maine Hunting Shoe. Still family owned, Shawn Gorman, great grandson of Leon Leonwood Bean, was named Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2013. While its business has grown over the years, L.L.Bean continues to uphold the values of its founder, including his dedication to quality, customer service and a love of the outdoors. In the past five years, L.L.Bean has donated over $6 million toward conservation and land stewardship. L.L.Bean currently operates 41 stores in 17 states across the United States, along with 27 stores in Japan. The 220,000-sq. ft. L.L.Bean retail store campus in Freeport, Maine, is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and welcomes more than 3 million visitors every year. L.L.Bean can be found worldwide at, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram.

About Swix

Swix with roots running deep in the snow and ice of Scandinavia, is an industry pioneer in the development of ski waxes, tuning tools, poles and apparel for both alpine and cross-country skiers around the globe. With a constant focus on research and development, athletes skiing on Swix wax, poles and technical wear have captured countless Olympic and World Championships medals since the company’s debut in 1946.  Swix Sport is part of the newly formed Brav outdoor group of brands. Toko, Lundhags, Ulvang, Helsport, Orginal, Hardrocx, and Skisporet. Learn more at Instagram.  Facebook.


Reese Brown
U.S. Ski & Snowboard Cross Country Press Officer

Diggins Earns Another Early-Season Victory

By Reese Brown
September, 4 2018
Jessie Diggins
Jessie Diggins kicked off the Winter Games NZ with a victory in the individual 5k freestyle Tuesday at Snow Farm. (Winter Games NZ / Jay French)

Jessie Diggins (Stratton, Vt.) and Kyle Bratrud (Eden Prairie, Minn.) kicked off the Winter Games NZ cross country events with individual freestyle victories Tuesday.   

“We are pleased with our start to this three-day series”, said U.S. Ski Team Head Coach Matt Whitcomb. “We had great weather, and the venue setup was fit for a major championship.  While the fields are quite small this time of year in the Southern Hemisphere, the event was very competitive, and the OC made it feel like a World Cup.”
In the two-lap 5k women’s race, Caitlin Patterson (Anchorage, Alaska) and Sophie Caldwell (Stratton, Vt.) started aggressively and lead the race by seven seconds through three kilometers over Diggins.  However, Diggins was able to use her come-from-behind strength to win the event by 10 seconds.
“The New Zealand Winter Games are a huge opportunity to get back into racing mode and test out all the technique work we’ve been putting in so far,” said Diggins. “I’m so grateful to the Snow Farm and race organizers for keeping such a fun, hard, and fast race alive! I forgot how much it can hurt to go so hard for 5k, but it was fun to really get that lung burn back for the first time since last winter.”
“I was really happy with how today went and felt better than I thought," said Caldwell, who finished second. "I think these races are a great opportunity to figure out what we want to fine tune in the next couple months before the (World Cup) season begins.”
In the four-lap 10k men’s race, Bratrud bested the field, despite starting very controlled.  After five kilometers, there were still four guys within 13 seconds. But Bratrud was able to gradually pick up the pace and ended up winning by 21 seconds over Japan's Kaiche Naruse.
The New Zealand Winter Games is an international multi-sport event held every two years in New Zealand. The event is organized by the Winter Games New Zealand Trust.

Men's 10k individual freestyle
Women's 5k individual freestyle

Ladd Mines Halfpipe Silver at Junior Worlds

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
September, 4 2018
Men's Freeski Podium
Dylan Ladd (left) won the silver medal in the men's freeski halfpipe at the 2018 FIS Junior World Championships Saturday. (Iain McGregor / Winter Games NZ)

Dylan Ladd (Lakewood, Colo.) won the freeski halfpipe silver medal at the 2018 FIS Junior Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships Tuesday at Cardrona Alpine Resort.

Ladd, competing in his second Junior World Championships, came through with big back to back 900s at the top of the pipe and finished with a super technical double flat 900 down the pipe to land on the podium. New Zealand's Nico Porteous won the gold, and Norway's Birk Rudd came through with the bronze.

Hunter Carey (Winter Park, Colo.) was fifth, Conner Ladd (Lakewood, Colo.) sixth, and Aaron Durlester (Mammoth, Calif.) was ninth.

In the women's halfpipe final, Estonia's Kelly Sildaru won her fifth overall Junior World Championships medal and her second gold medal of the 2018 championships. Russia's Valeriya Demidova took the silver, and China's Kevin Zhang won the bronze. Svea Irving (Winter Park, Colo.) was fourth, and Eileen Gu (San Francisco) was fifth.

Men's freeski halfpipe
Women's freeski halfpipe

Ladd Ski Halfpipe Silver

Miller Gold, Maud Silver At Junior Worlds Halfpipe

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
September, 4 2018
Miller Gold
Toby Miller won the snowboard halfpipe gold medal at the 2018 FIS Junior Freestyle Ski and Snowboard Halfpipe World Championships Tuesday at Cardrona Alpine Resort. (Iain McGregor / Winter Games NZ)

Toby Miller (Mammoth, Calif.) added the snowboard halfpipe gold medal to his FIS Junior World Championships collection, and Tessa Maud (Carlsbad, Calif.) won her first world championships medal, a silver, at the 2018 FIS Junior Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships.

Opening with a frontside double 1080 stalefish to cab double 1080 melon combo, and closing out with a frontside 1080 tailgrab, Miller was clearly on a mission to better the two Junior World Championship silver medals he had won in 2015 and 2017.

“I couldn’t be happier,” said Miller, who put down a blistering first-run score of 93.20. “The level of riding out here today was absolutely phenomenal - all the riders are so talented. This is my fourth Junior Worlds and every year the level just gets higher and higher. I’m honored to be in such an elite group of riders.”

Close on the day, but not close enough were a pair of Japanese riders boasting a name famous in halfpipe circles, as Ruka and Kaishu Hirano finished second and third respectively behind Miller. Jake Canter (Evergreen, Colo.) was eighth.

Maud, competing in her first event as a member of the U.S. Snowboard Team, dropped in switch to open with a cab 720 tail grab and following that up with back-to-back 540s. She put down a nice combination of spins and perhaps the best invert of the day on the women’s side with a solid crippler in her high-scoring second run to earn herself the silver medal. 

Japan’s Mitsuki Ono put down three solid runs to win the gold medal. Canada’s Elizabeth Hosking, meanwhile, relied on her first-run score of 68.80 to stay ahead of the pack to take the bronze. 

Men’s halfpipe finals
Women’s halfpipe finals

Miller wins Halfpipe Gold

Ladd Leads Four Americans Into Freeski Halfpipe Finals

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
September, 1 2018
Dylan Ladd
Dylan Ladd finished third in freeski halfpipe qualifying Saturday at the Junior World Championships. (Neil Kerr / Winter Games NZ)

Dylan Ladd (Lakewood, Colo.) finished third in Saturday's qualifying round to lead four Americans into the freeski halfpipe finals at the 2018 FIS Junior Freestyle Ski and Snowboard Halfpipe World Championships Saturday.

Hunter Carey (Winter Park, Colo.) was fourth, Conner Ladd (Lakewood, Colo.)  eight, Aaron Durlester (Mammoth, Calif. was 12th to advance to the finals Tuesday at Cardrona Alpine Resort. 

With heavy snow in the mountain weather forecast for the next few days, men's qualifying round was moved up a day from Sunday to Saturday. The freeski halfpipe finals are scheduled for Tuesday.

Svea, Gu Qualify For Freeski Halfpipe Finals

A weather window opened Sunday morning allowing 19 athletes to compete in the women's freeski halfpipe qualifier. Svea Irving (Winter Park, Colo.) and Eileen Gu (San Francisco) finished fourth and sixth respectively to reach the freeski halfpipe finals scheduled for Tuesday at Cardrona Alpine Resort.

Men's freeski halfpipe qualifying
Women's freeski halfpipe qualifier

Men's freeski halfpipe finals
Women's freeski halfpipe finals

Miller, Canter, Maud Advance to Halfpipe Finals At Junior Worlds

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
September, 1 2018
Toby Miller
Toby Miller posted the top score in snowboard halfpipe qualifying at the Junior World Championships Saturday. (Iain McGregor / Winter Games NZ)

Toby Miller (Mammoth, Calif.) opened his second run with back to back 1080s for a score of 95.60 and the top spot in the men’s snowboard halfpipe qualifier at the 2018 FIS Junior Freestyle Ski and Snowboard Halfpipe World Championships Saturday.

With heavy snow in the mountain weather forecast for the next few days, the qualifying competition was rescheduled from Sunday to Saturday and came down to a game of strategy for Miller, who nailed his second run to move atop the standings.

“Both my runs went great,” said Miller. “My first run I got a 90.80, the first run is the most nerve-wracking one, you want to put down a score and make finals on that first run. I was very fortunate to do that, I’m stoked. I ended up bumping up (on run two) doing a cab double 10 after the frontside 1080 and doing three 10s instead of two. I just wanted to up the score a little more and use it as practice and get ready for finals.”

Jake Canter (Evergreen, Colo.) finished 10th to advance to the finals scheduled for Tuesday at Cardrona Alpine Resort.

In the women's snowboard halfpipe qualifier, China’s Lulu Jia nailed down the top qualifying spot with an 85.6. Tessa Maud (Carlsbad, Calif.) finished third to move on to Tuesday's finals.

Men's halfpipe qualifier
Women's halfpipe qualifier

Men's halfpipe finals
Women's halfpipe finals