World Cup Report: Planica Recap, Tour de Ski Preview

by Chris Hecker
December 25, 2019

The podium streak continues for the US Ski team, this time it was by the hands of Julia Kern. Planica brought plenty of rain, thunder, and slush.  With massive amount of rain coming down, the snow base was next to nothing for the weekend races. There was so little snow in fact, that ski testing was not allowed on course and training for the athletes was cancelled.  Many of the wax tech ended up testing on the ski jumping hill and athletes either rollerskied or ran for their race prep. It was a soggy weekend but the USST made the most of it.


  • Dec 21 Freestyle Sprint
  • Dec 22 Freestyle Team Sprint

Freestyle Sprint

A lot of rain and slushy snow brought some good results for USST members.  The only two women who raced were Kern and Sophie Caldwell. Kern qualified in 20th position and Caldwell qualified 5th.  After qualifications Kern would win her quarterfinal heat and semifinal heat; where Caldwell would have a tough battle in the quarter and semifinals where she would qualify for finals in the lucky loser spot.  In the final heat, Kern would show how strong she could be in a sprint, finishing in 3rd place. It was a Swedish podium party in women’s final.  Jonna Sundling won and teammate Stina Nilsson finished in a close second. Caldwell would finish hot on Kern’s heels in 4th place.  On the men’s side the US would qualify all three men racing: Logan Hanneman, Kevin Bolger, and Simi Hamilton.  Bolger and Hanneman would fail to get out of the quarterfinals but Hamilton would qualify as the lucky loser and make it to the semifinals heats.  Unfortunately, Hamilton would fall short in the semis and be done for the day. On the men’s side, with Johannes Klæbo sitting out for the weekend, it was the Frenchman Lucas Chanavat who returns to the top of the podium for the first time this season.  He would barely beat out a charging Federico Pellegrino of Italy in second and Norway’s Erik Valnes would land in the final spot of the podium.

Freestyle Team Sprint

Another rainy/snowy day in Planica wasn’t as friendly for the USST team.  The men’s team would have a last minute substitution where Hanneman would replace Hamilton, due to a nagging hamstring injury.  Hanneman was partnered up with Bolger and the duo would qualify for the finals but come up short and finish in 7th position.  Like the men, the duo of Kern and Caldwell would make the final heats but fail to put up a challenge racing to a 5th place finish.  On the women’s side the Swedish team would go first and second place.  Third place would be Switzerland who claims their first ever team sprint medal.  In the men’s field, it was Norway who claimed first and second place. Finland would claim the final podium spot in the team sprint. 

Full results 


Tour de Ski

  • Lenzeheide
    • Dec 28 Mass Start Freestyle 
      • Women’s 10km - 5:45 am CST
      • Men’s 15km - 7:15 am CST
    • Dec 29 Freestyle Sprint 1.5km - 4:20 am CST 
  • Toblach
    • Dec 31 Interval Start Freestyle
      • Women’s 10km - 5:30 am CST
      • Men’s 15km - 8:00 am CST
    • Jan 01 Pursuit Classic
      • Women’s 10km - 4:40 am CST
      • Men’s 15km - 6:00 am CST
  • Val Di Fiemme
    • Jan 03 Mass start Classic
      • Women’s 10km - 6:15 am CST
      • Men’s 15km - 8:15 am CST
    • Jan 04 Classic Sprint - 4:25 am CST
    • Jan 05 Final Climb Mass Start Freestyle 10km
      • Women’s 10km - 6:15 am CST
      • Men’s 10km - 8:15 am CST

The Tour de Ski will start in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, this year and will conclude with the final climb in Val di Fiemme, Italy.  This year the final climb will not be pursuit but instead will be a mass start for the first time ever. On the women’s side Therese Johaug will look to dominate once again as she did last year.  Krista Parmakoski from Finland, Natalya Nepryayeva of Russia, Jessie Diggins of USA, Norway’s Heidi Weng, and Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla will battle to grab one of the podium spots in the overall rankings.  On the men’s side it will be another battle and it is anyone’s for the taking. Expect Klæbo, Emil Iversen of Norway and Alexander Bolshunov of Russia to be in the hunt for the top spot. This year’s Tour de Ski should have a large number of participants as this will be one of the biggest events of the year as many athletes will try to compete for the overall rankings.  

About the author...

Chris Hecker is a Rex Wax representative and wax technician working on the World Cup this season for both cross-country and biathlon events. Hecker hails from Ham Lake, Minnesota, racing for Anoka high school and St. Scholastica College. Hecker will be providing regular updates on the World Cup racing scene this season. Chris can be reached at:

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