TOBLACH, Italy (December 19, 2015) – Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) led the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team to a historic podium Saturday in Toblach during a 1.3k freestyle sprint, finishing second in the men’s final, 0.48 seconds behind Italy’s Federico Pellegrino, and ahead of Great Britain’s Andrew Young in third. It was Hamilton’s first World Cup podium finish since winning in 2013 and the sixth sprint podium for the USA in history.
In the women’s sprint, Noway’s Maiken Falla and Ingvild Oestberg along with Sweden’s Stina Nilsson battled to the podium for the second weekend in a row during the finals. Falla finished first over teammate Oestberg and Nilsson was third. Falla reclaimed first after finishing second behind Sweden’s Stina Nilsson last weekend in the Davos freestyle sprints.
Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) skis to a historic podium finish Saturday for the U.S. Team in the 1.3k sprint in Toblach, Italy (Noah Hoffmam)
Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT) led the women’s team again in the freestyle sprints, just missing the final heat and taking seventh overall. Caldwell also led the team last weekend in the freestyle sprints qualifying for the finals and finishing sixth. Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) was the second leading American with a ninth place finish.
“It started with my best qualifier ever, and advanced into some fun heats,” Bjornsen said. “I felt really good out there, and just missed the finals by a touchable hair - but each week I am feeling more confident and excited about sprint racing.”
The U.S. women qualified four out of five in the qualifying round, including Bjornsen, Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN), Caldwell and Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT). Diggins and Sargent went head-to-head in heat one of the quarterfinals but did not advance further after finishing fifth and sixth. Caldwell and Bjornsen both finished second in their heats, advancing them to the semifinals but did not move onto the finals.
Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) led the U.S. Cross Country Team to a historic podium in a 1.3k freestyle sprint Saturday in Toblach, Italy. (FIS)
Sunday, Dec. 20
5:15 a.m. – Men’s and Women’s 15/10k Freestyle NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
It was an amazing day to be here in Toblach. It started with my best qualifier ever, and I advanced into some fun heats. I felt really good out there, and just missed the finals by a touchable hai r- but each week I am feeling more confident and excited about sprint racing.
Thanks to our techs for some amazing skis! And most importantly, congrats to Simi for a beautiful podium! I am so excited to see him where I know he belongs. We are hunting those Norwegians down, one week at a time. I can't wait for a fun 10k tomorrow and then some rest and recovery before an exciting Tour de Ski.
Wow! Pretty awesome day for team USA with three in the top 10 and Sim on the podium! The course here is really fun and tactical. I was happy with my quarterfinal and was able to slingshot into second in the finish stretch to move onto the semis. Our semifinal was really tight, and so was the other one, so Sadie and I both narrowly missed being the lucky losers and moving into the final. I felt better in the heats than I did in Davos and really focused on recovering between each one and skiing smart throughout the heats. Positions changed a lot throughout the heats and there was a big draft effect coming into the final stretch, so focusing on not panicking early on and positioning yourself well on the final hill was important. I was happy to be in the top ten again this week and it's a good boost of confidence going into period two after Christmas.
Chris Grover, head cross country coach
It was a very fair competition with easy waxing conditions and no nations seemed to struggle with skis. Great to have 6 athletes qualify for the heats again, but not really a big surprise. The women skied great. Sophie must have been mere hundredths from going through to the finals again as a lucky loser. She executed her race plan perfectly all day. Simi didn’t feel that great in the qualification but felt strong in the heats. He’s been in excellent form all year and after last weekend’s broken pole in Davos, he finally had a chance to demonstrate his ability today. He executed his race plan perfectly from quarterfinals to final - relaxing early on in each heat and then making big moves to get himself to the front in the middle of the course and on the last uphill before the finish. The next sprint on the World Cup is Lenzerheide where Simi won two years ago.