World Cup Report: Davos Recap, Panica Preview
The USST stormed Davos and put individuals on the World Cup podium for the third consecutive weekend with three separate individuals. This weekend was a double podium, one from Sophie Caldwell, and one from Jessie Diggins. The USST is off to an unprecedented start and although we are only three weekends into the season, this will be one of the most memorable seasons ever. In three weekends, the team has had an overall world cup leader, 5 podiums, and two individuals ranked in the top 5 in the overall standings.
- Dec 14 Freestyle Sprint
- Dec 15 10km/15km Individual Freestyle
The Saturday sprint started off with a bang having a total of seven USST athletes qualify for heats and an eighth individual missed heats by one spot. The men qualifiers were Simi Hamilton, who looks to have recovered well this week from a nagging hamstring injury, and qualified in eighth position. The other male that qualified was Kevin Bolger who just squeaked into the heats with a 30th placed finish. Logan Hanneman was in the unfortunate position of being 31st and because it’s sprint racing, only the top 30 qualify for the heats. Hamilton fought his way through the heats using two lucky loser spots to slip into the finals. Hamilton and Bolger both raced in the second quarterfinal heat where Hamilton finished third, and qualified as a lucky loser, as Bolger finished 6th in the heat. Hamilton battled his way in the semifinals to a 4th place finish in heat number two and based on time, qualified for the finals. Unfortunately in the final heat Hamilton didn’t have enough in the tank to stick with the leaders and finished 6th overall on the day. It was another fantastic day for the Norweigian sprint specialist Johannes Klæbo who won a photo finish sprint against Lucas Chanavat of France. A young sprinter for Norway, Haavard Taugboel, rounded out the podium in third more than a ski length behind the top finishers.
The women’s sprint, like the men’s, came down to a very tight sprint finish. The US qualified five athletes: Caldwell, Diggins, Sadie Maubet-Bjornsen, Julia Kern, and Haily Swirbul. Unfortunately all but Caldwell would fail to get out of the quarterfinal heats. Caldwell took the opposite approach of her husband (Hamilton) and did not leave things up to the lucky loser. Caldwell went on to win her quarterfinal and semifinal in dominant fashion. Going into the final heat Caldwell put up a really strong fight and landed into the third position on the podium, losing a photo finish against second place Maiken Caspersen Falla, of Norway. The win in the women’s race would go to U23 athlete, and her first world cup victory, Linn Svahn of Sweden.
Davos was the third consecutive race weekend with a distance race and it marks three wins for Therese Johaug of Norway. She has been very dominant in distance racing this year and no one has been able to put serious pressure on her; It has been a battle for second and third place, one in which US distance crew have been competitive in week in and week out. The US distance skiers put five girls in the top 30, where Kern, Swirbul, and Rosie Frankowski, would each record their first FIS points ever in a distance race. Leading the US women was Diggins, who surged into 3rd place, and Maubet-Bjornsen, who raced into 9th. It’s the third weekend in a row that they have had a top ten distance finish and because of this, Diggins is now 3rd in the overall World Cup points and Maubet-Bjornsen is hot on her heels in 4th!
In the men’s race USST members Erik Bjornsen and David Norris missed out on racing and left the other guys to represent the USA. Kyle Bratrud stepped up to the challenge and lead the men with a strong race, finishing 38th. Hamilton finished second for the men in 42nd and Scott Patterson rounded out the US men in 51st. The overall victory would go to Simen Krueger, of Norway, who won by :19 and continued to show his dominance in skate format racing. Second and third place were decided by just one second. Sergey Ustigov, of Russia, fended off the hometown hero Dario Cologna, for a second place finish.
- Dec 21 Freestyle Sprint @ 6:30AM CST for the start of final heats
- Dec 22 Freestyle Team Sprint @ 4:10AM CST for the start of final heats
- Race website
- Live results
- Live coverage - NBC Sports Gold Snowpass
Planica, Slovenia, is a sprint only weekend and should be another competitive series for the USST. Unfortunately there will be a small team represented this week that will not include Diggins, Maubet-Bjornsen, Erik Bjornsen and many more. They will be out of town for the holidays spending time with loved ones. Regardless, the women will look to continue their streak of continuous weekends with a podium finish and will be eyeing another team sprint medal. The women's team will be comprised of Sophie Caldwell and Julia Kern this weekend in the team sprint event. Norway, Sweden, Finland, and possibly the weekend’s dark horse Slovenia, should have a shot at a podium. On the men’s side look for Hamilton to build off of his 6th place finish this weekend and try to move up in the sprint rankings next week. The men’s team sprint could also in contention for a top 5 finish next weekend on the backs of Hamilton and Bolger in the team sprint.