World Cup Update: Davos, Dresden Preview

by Jeremy Hecker
December 16, 2020

Skinnyski: Another impressive weekend by Rosie Brennan, winning both the freestyle sprint and freestyle distance races! While all of the Scananvians were missing, it still seemed like there was some strong competition?

Jeremy: Brennan has had an incredible start to the season. Having her first ever World Cup victory on Saturday (with the fastest qualifier to boot) was amazing. Following it up with the 10km on Sunday was unbelievable. While the perennial powerhouse teams were absent (Finland, Norway, Sweden), there were still plenty of very talented women racing! The most impressive result was definitely the distance race on Sunday where Brennan won by 34 seconds. Even if the big three teams were there, she would have had a time good enough to fight for a podium position.

Skinnyski: Hailey Swirbul makes it onto the podium on Sunday as well with a very strong race. Swirbul showed great promise as a junior, on the podium at the World Juniors on a couple of occasions. This seems to bode well for the future of the US Ski Team?

Jeremy: It is always exciting to see newer, younger faces at the top of the standings. Pretty much since Kikkan Randall was on the World Cup scene American women have consistently been finishing in the top 30 of the World Cup. The mainstays like Caldwell, Diggins, Bjornsen, and Brennan are all in the mid to later parts of their careers. Having younger skiers like Swirbul, Halvorsen, Kern, and Ogden coming up through the ranks to replace them is exciting. We have a great pipeline system in the US and I believe that we will continue to produce new stars!

Skinnyski: What were the conditions like on Saturday and Sunday? Saturday appeared like ideal sprint conditions, Sunday looked like there might have been fresh snowfall and much trickier waxing? What adjustments were made during the sprints, and on Sunday?

Chris: Waxing was fairly straight forward for the staff this weekend. We really focused on testing new snow waxes and mixed snow waxes. On Saturday morning for the qualifiers we ran with a cold condition wax because the snowpack was cold and it was early enough that the sun wasn't out to heat up the course. As we got into the quarterfinals however we switched to warmer grind skis and slightly warmer waxes. We ran on this all the way to the finals where we switched back to the morning decision because the sun went away and a small amount of snow was coming down. On Sunday morning we got about two inches of fresh snow on top of a crusty corduroy. We ran almost identical skis as the Saturday morning qualifier but ended up running slightly dryer waxes because of the new snow that wasn't groomed before the race. That new snow left the course with a sandpaper like feel to it and our testing was focused on cold, dry, new snow waxes.

Skinnyski: Kevin Bolger had a strong weekend, racing well on both days. What can you share on the men's squad, especially from the Midwest skiers?

Jeremy: Bolger had a great weekend of racing. Traditionally a better sprinter, the Wisconsin native had a fantastic result on Saturday. Finishing 13th, he narrowly missed out on qualifying for the semi finals. While his 33rd place finish was a bit lower than his sprint finish, the fact that he did that well compared to previous WC distance results shows his fitness is better than previous years. This is a great sign of things to come for the rest of the season. Other results on the men’s side to highlight was Logan Hanneman finishing in 9th during the sprints, JC Schoonmaker with the 5th fastest qualifier, and Scott Patterson finishing in 16th on Sunday. Midwest Natives Adam Martin and Ian Torchia also made their season debuts on Sunday finishing in 44th and 49th respectively.

Skinnyski: Davos is one of the great European venues, the scenery looks fantastic. What are the athletes and techs doing during the "off hours" given the pandemic restrictions?

Chris: The off hours for the techs don't change much with the pandemic. In the morning's we prepare athlete skis for training and test athlete skis. If we are not helping our athlete test their skis then we are working on our own test skis preparing for a wax or structure test. Around lunch time we will head back to the hotel and grab a quick bite to eat. Typically we will allow ourselves an hour or two for horizontal time before heading back to the truck to prepare for afternoon training or testing. Occasionally if we are not testing with athletes or our own wax test we will head out for a staff ski and try to log some extra kms. Our lives before the pandemic revolved around the wax truck and it still revolves around working in the wax truck. Not much has changed!

Skinnyski: A pair of weekend races in Dresden, Germany are on the schedule next. What can you tell us about those events and who might be racing for the US, especially for the team sprints (where Kern did well last season)?

Jeremy: Races will be in the same location as previous years, next to the Elbe River. Dresden is known as one of the more exciting city sprint races of the year and will have an individual freestyle sprint on Saturday followed by a team sprint on Sunday. You can expect to see the traditional sprinters on both the men’s and women’s teams fighting to qualify for the heats in the individual race, but I have not seen a start list yet for the team sprint event. Those teams will probably not be set until after the results from Saturday's events get posted.

  • December 19th Freestyle Sprint (heats) 6:25 am CST  (Live on Peacock TV)
  • December 20th Freestyle Team Sprint (Finals) 5:45 am CST  (Live on Peacock TV)

Update:  US Ski and Snowboard reports the weekend line-up as:   Jessie Diggins, Julia Kern, Hannah Halvorsen, Sophie Caldwell Hamilton, Simi Hamilton, Gus Schumacher, Tyler Kornfield, Kevin Bolger, Logan Hanneman and JC Schoonmaker.

About the author...

Jeremy Hecker is the current racing service manager at Pioneer Midwest and Rex Ski Wax technical representative for the US. He has been skiing for his entire lifetime, racing competitively in college for St. Scholastica. Since graduating in 2013 he has coached for numerous teams including Endurance United, Stratton Mountain School, and the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. In addition to his coaching experience, Jeremy has a Masters degree in the Biology of Physical Activity which he obtained from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland.

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