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Tricky conditions in Davos freestyle sprint

Sun, Dec  21, 2014 - By USSA

DAVOS, Switzerland (Dec. 21, 2014) – Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK) edged closer to the top of the results page in Sunday’s 1.2k freestyle sprint World Cup, finishing ninth and advancing through to the semi-final round. Randall shared her heat with teammate Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT). The Davos event was an unexpected sprint in the World Cup schedule after the two days of racing had been moved from Las Clusaz, France to the Swiss venue for a second consecutive racing weekend. Conditions in Europe remain thin and ice mixed with snow played a factor in U.S. results.
 
“There was a piece of ice on the inside (corner),” Randall explained of her semi-final heat, “I was looking up to sort out where I would make my move and that shift in focus was enough for me to lose it on that ice.”

Sophie Caldwell skis to an 11th place finish in the Davos freestyle sprint World Cup. (Getty Images/AFP-Pierre Teyssot)

Sophie Caldwell skis to an 11th place finish in the Davos freestyle sprint World Cup. (Getty Images/AFP-Pierre Teyssot)

Randall wasn’t alone in getting caught up in the icy skiing. Sophie Caldwell slipped climbing the sprint course uphill landing briefly on her knees. “I’m not entirely sure what happened, but I was suddenly down,” Caldwell explained. The crashes didn’t damper spirits, however, as U.S. results mark another weekend of improvement.
 
“The positives on the day were that people were feeling better than they had before. Kikkan feels like she’s going in the right direction and was really starting to feel like herself. Sophie is getting faster and faster,” Head Coach, Chris Grover explained. He continued, “Simi skied super well. He wasn’t feeling 100% coming out of this cold but we’re excited to see what he can do coming out of this cold.”
 
Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) qualified in 14th but also was caught up in a crash through the rounds. He finished with a 23rd place on the day. He said of his effort, “I actually felt a lot better in the quarter than I did in qualifying. I was doing well and gearing up for the final stretches but then right as I went to put the hammer down, I hit a piece of ice, caught my right tip and that was that.”

Simi Hamilton led the U.S. men in the Davos sprint. (Getty Images/AFP-Pierre Teyssot)
 
Davos stretched together the sprint course in the wake of a very light snow year in central Europe. “It was really firm,” Grover explained of the skiing,  “Yesterday was almost like a sheet of ice. They had a better night grooming here and this was a fast but good course in general. They had a few icy patches out there and we caught a few, unfortunately. But overall, I’m pleased with the improvement we’re seeing.”

Simi Hamilton led the U.S. men in the Davos sprint. (Getty Images/AFP-Pierre Teyssot)

Simi Hamilton led the U.S. men in the Davos sprint. (Getty Images/AFP-Pierre Teyssot)

This year’s World Cup period one has been a test of patience and perseverance for the U.S. Cross Country Ski team. A dominant Norwegian team has steamrolled competition as the deep roster of Norwegian skiers sort themselves for World Championship selection. The effect on other countries has been tough at times. For their part, the U.S. has remained patient and strong while slowly closing the gap to the podium and to race wins.
 
“It’s been a frustrating last few weeks with not feeling great in Lillehammer and then getting sick,” Hamilton described,  “But I’m on the upswing and I felt better and better as today went on. I’m just getting psyched for the Tour de Ski, psyched for the next races.”
 
Sophie Caldwell shared her teammate’s optimism, “Making it into the semis is a big boost of confidence. I just feel ready for the Tour and the events ahead. I’m going to do the first half of the Tour. I’m psyched about it because I prefer skate sprinting and classic distance.”
 
Between today and the start of the Tour de Ski, the U.S. team will primarily remain in Davos, one of the only places with snow to train on and a comfortable location for the Americans. “It’s a home away from home,” coach Matt Whitcomb explained of the Davos venue.
 
The Tour de Ski begins on January 3rd with a 3k / 4k prologue event in Oberstdorf, Germany.
 
HIGHLIGHTS

  • Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK) finished 9th in the Freestyle Sprint in Davos, skiing through the semi-finals before an untimely crash knocked her out of the chance to move on.
  • Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT) finished 11th  crashing in the same semi-final heat as Randall.
  • Randall and Caldwell led the U.S. in qualifying finishing 9th and 8th respectively. Also qualifying for the heats were Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) in 17th Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT) in 29th.
  • Diggins and Sargent finished 22nd and 29th overall.
  • Marit Bjorgen (NOR) won the women’s event narrowly over Sweden’s Stina Nilsson.
  • Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) led the U.S. men in 23rd place.
  • Frederico Pelligrino (ITA) timed a late surge well to win the men’s event over Russian, Alexei Petchukov.

QUOTES

Kikkan Randall

I was just looking up to make a plan as to where to move up strategically and that shift in focus was enough to cause me to lose it on a piece of ice on the inside corner. 
 
You never know how bad you feel until you feel good again. All I wanted today was to be stronger. I was really happy to have my gears back and my energy was still good. I’m just really happy to be feeling good again.
 
It’s been my plan to stay here with (husband) Jeff and to have Christmas here in Davos so it is working out that this is the only place with snow. I’m looking forward to the Tour (de Ski) and to continue moving forward.
 
Sophie Caldwell

It was very ski-able and good skiing even with the icy sections. They improved the course significantly from yesterday in our preview where it really was just a sheet of ice.
 
I’m feeling good. I’m really psyched about today. Making it into the semis is a big boost of confidence for me being able to ski through heats again feels really good.
 
I’m going to do the first half of the Tour (de Ski). I’m psyched about it because I prefer skate sprinting and classic distance. In the meantime, we have a week and a half or two weeks here. Most of the team has changed travel plans because this is the only place with snow so we’ll have a good time as a team.
 
Simi Hamilton

I actually felt a lot better in the quarter than I did in qualifying, but I was doing alright but then right as I went to put the hammer down, I hit a piece of ice, caught my right tip and that was that.
 
It’s been a frustrating last few weeks with not feeling great in Lillehammer and then getting sick but I’m on the upswing and I felt better with the day going on today. So I’m just getting psyched for the Tour. It should be good at Christmas to get in some training and relax before things fire back up.
 
Chris Grover, Head Coach

The positives were that people were feeling better than they had before. Kikkan feels like she’s going in the right direction and was really starting to feel like herself. Sophie is getting faster and faster. Simi skied super well and though he wasn’t feeling 100% coming out of this cold, we’re excited to see what he can do in the Tour and beyond.
 
We had extremely good skis.  The service team kicked butt. We put ourselves in a position to be successful but we just weren’t able seal the deal as well as we would have liked.
 
It was really firm. Yesterday was almost like a sheet of ice. They had a better night grooming here and this was a fast but good course in general. They had a few icy patches out there but overall the skiing was good.
 
Sadie and Erik Bjornsen are heading to France and everyone else is staying in Davos. We’re here and this is one of the few places that has skiing in central Europe. Liz, Ida, Jessie, Sophie all staying here and then we’ll meet back up for the Tour de Ski.

RESULTS