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Caldwell 6th in freestyle sprint in Davos

Sun, Dec  13, 2015 - By USSA

DAVOS, Switzerland (Dec. 13, 2015) - Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT) was the top American in sixth in the 1.6k freestyle sprint at the FIS Cross Country World Cup Sunday.

“To be in the final exceeded my goals and expectations for the weekend,” Caldwell said. “It's a good boost of confidence and I'm looking forward to the sprints in the next few weeks.”

Sweden’s Stina Nilsson displayed some tactical moves in the final stretch of the sprint to secure a 0.15 second win over Norway’s Maiken Falla, second, and Ingvlid Oestberg, third.

Sophie Caldwell, shown here during the 2015 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, was the top American finisher in sixth in the 1.6K Sprint in Davos Sunday. (Getty Images-Matthias Hangst)

Sophie Caldwell, shown here during the 2015 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, was the top American finisher in sixth in the 1.6K Sprint in Davos Sunday. (Getty Images-Matthias Hangst)

The U.S. women qualified four out of five in the qualifying round, including Caldwell, Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN), Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) and Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT). In the quarterfinal heats, Bjorsen and Sargent did not advance further, but Diggins won her heat and Caldwell advanced into the semi finals as a lucky loser. Diggins and Caldwell went head to head in the second heat of the semi finals where once again, Caldwell advanced as the lucky loser to move onto the finals, Diggins was fifth in the semi final heat just behind Caldwell.

“I was psyched to place third and move on to the semis as lucky loser,” Caldwell said. “I was also the lucky loser in my semi final, so I think I was the luckiest loser of the day!”

In the men’s 1.6k freestyle sprint, defending Davos sprint champion Federico Pellegrino of Italy snatched first from France’s Baptiste Gros and Noway’s Sondre Fossli in the final stretch of the race. Pellegrino finished 0.27 seconds ahead of Gros, and 0.32 ahead of Fossli.

The U.S. men qualified two out of three. Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) qualified 10th and Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) qualified 21st, which advanced them to the quarterfinal heats. Newell fought for third in his heat but was unable to hold on and finished fifth. Hamilton broke a pole in his heat and was unable to recover, finishing fifth as well. Newell finished 23rd overall and Hamilton finished 26th overall.

The World Cup racers will meet in Toblach, Italy for another freestyle sprint race, December 19 and a 15/10k classic race on December 20. The races will be streamed live on NBC Sports Live Extra.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • With Marit Bjørgen (3 wins) and Kikkan Randall (1 win) both expecting a child, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg was the only previous winner of a sprint freestyle race in Davos to start in Sunday’s World Cup race.
  • Pellegrino is the only athlete in the history of the World Cup to win three consecutive World Cup races in sprint freestyle.
  • Defending Davos sprint champion Federico Pellegrino was first in the men’s 1.6k freestyle sprint, finishing 0.27 seconds a head of France’s Baptiste Gros and Sondre Fossli who finished third (+0.32).
  • Sweden’s Stina Nilsson was the new sprint champion of the Davos finishing 0.15 seconds ahead of Norway’s Maiken Falla and Ingvild Oestberg (+0.84).
  • Nilsson was second last season in the Davos sprint behind Norway’s Marit Bjorgen.
  • For the U.S. women, Sophie Caldwell led the team in fifth, Jessie Diggins ninth, Sadie Bjornsen 17th, Ida Sargent 27th, and Rosie Brennan (Park City, UT) 40th.
  • For the U.S. men, Andy Newell led the team in 23rd, Simi Hamilton 26th and Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) 68th.

QUOTES

Sophie Caldwell
I really like this course because a lot of it is about riding your ski well across the flats and it has a couple of technical corners. Between the lung burn and the leg burn, the altitude can really take a toll on you.

I was very happy with my qualifier. That might be the best I've ever qualified in a sprint before. I chose the first heat, which ended up being really stacked. This makes it difficult to be in the top two, but you can also count on having a fast heat, so I was psyched to place third and move on to the semis as lucky loser.

I was also the lucky loser in my semi final, so I think I was the luckiest loser of the day!

After my semi I was really struggling with the lactic acid I had built up and felt okay for the first lap of my final, but didn't have anything left in the tank for the second lap. That said, I was really happy with the day.

I was excited to compete in the first skate sprint of the season and to be in the final exceeded my goals and expectations for the weekend. It's a good boost of confidence and I'm looking forward to the sprints in the next few weeks.

Matt Whitcomb, head women's coach
Today was a great day for the women. Not only did four qualify, but they were all inside the top-20. We’ll take confidence from this as we move to Toblach for another shot at a skate sprint podium. Sophie and Jessie were impressive in their quarterfinals; Sophie advanced through the first lucky loser position in a heat with Weng and Flugstad, and Jessie won hers. To finish a day with two athletes in the top-10 will really increase our ramming speed as we head to Toblach. While the final round didn’t go very well for Sophie, we were proud to have her represent after coming back from a mild illness last week. Her speedy qualifier was all we needed to see to know that today was going to be big.

The men are disappointed with the outcome of the day, but Hamilton and Newell still qualified with room to spare. Andy wasn’t feeling great all day, and Simi broke a pole heading into lap 2. That was a major bummer as today’s conditions were similar to those from his Lenzerheide win, and Simi looked to be in great form. We’ll look to these two guys for big results next weekend in Toblach. They are ready to go.

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