World Cup Update: Dresden Recap
Skinnyski: Some great sprinting on Saturday for the US squad. Diggins looked particularly strong with a small tangle possibly keeping her from making the podium. Caldwell Hamilton had some amazing stretch finishes, especially after being boxed out. Nice to see Caldwell back on the podium?
Jeremy: It was an exciting weekend of racing to watch. I think not only myself, but all US Ski Team fans were expecting to see some fireworks off of the great weekend of racing in Davos a week ago. With Rosie Brennan who has been on a hot streak this season taking the weekend off, it was up to the other women to fill in the gaps. All four women racing (Caldwell Hamilton, Diggins, Halvorsen, Kern) qualified for the heats, with everyone but Halvorsen moving on to the semi finals shows how deep the US women's sprinting squad is. There is probably no one more happy than Sophie for getting back onto the World Cup podium, her first time in more than 365 days. She is looking like the old Sophie who can come in and dominate a skate sprint at any moment.
It was an equally impressive day for the men's side on Saturday. Like the women, four men (Bolger, Hamilton, Hanneman, Schoonmaker) qualified for the heats, with all but Schoonmaker moving on to the semi finals. In the finals Hamilton and Bolger seemed to get boxed out and could never make their way through the field. I do not remember the last time that two American men qualified for a sprint final together. Following up on last weeks great performance, Bolger was able to qualify for his first sprint final ever which is really exciting.
Skinnyski: The team had a good Sunday as well, how did you think the team sprints went?
Jeremy: Team sprints is such a unique race. It brings a balance of tactics, speed, and fitness that isn’t really seen in any other style of racing. On a flat course like Dresden, tactics and positioning plays a much larger role than skis or fitness does. Being in the right spot at the right time will allow you to make the moves needed to contest for the top positions. While I was expecting to see the US women's squad on the podium with how well they have been racing, they were in the mix at the end. Sophie was towards the back of the lead pack when Natalia Nepryaeva (RUS) made a move off the front of the group. Caldwell Hamilton was never able to get back in contention with the podium after that moment. Similar to the women's event, the men's team was towards the back of the lead pack on the 2nd to last leg when Bolshunov (RUS) made his move. Bolger was yo-yoing off the back before that point and that move pretty much dashed their chances at a podium finish on the day.
Skinnyski: What were conditions like on Saturday and Sunday? The snow appeared to look pretty fast, but sounded like the air temperature was well above zero?
Jeremy: I was able to get in contact with the Rex Racing Service guys that frequent the World Cup circuit and they were able to get me some inside details on the conditions and testing results. Conditions were definitely wet and slushy in Dresden. Dresden being at sea level in Germany rarely sees significant natural snowfall. The race site uses a snow factory to create snow in an empty airport hangar which then gets trucked into the race venue on the Elbe River. Because of this, the snow is typically dirtier and softer than other venues on the world cup. Almost all athletes raced on white base skis over the weekend to help combat the higher humidity levels found in this type of snow. Rex had some great results over the weekend. The 98 Powder from the racing service line rose to the top of our testing covered with an ironed in layer of TK-74 block.
Skinnyski: Missing in action were Rosie Brennan and especially Hailey Swirbul. Seems like both might have had a strong shot at making the podium. Any word why they sat out?
Jeremy: Dresden is a crap shoot for access to snow (as seen with the running/roller skiing warm-up loop). Both are both looking ahead to the Tour de Ski and gave up the Dresden weekend in order to focus/recover. Rosie and Hailey are in really good shape and have shown that in Davos. Because of this they didn't need to take a step backwards by going to a place where it is hard to get on snow and potentially risk getting sick or injured. They both stayed back in Davos to get an additional weekend of good training in before the holiday break.
Skinnyski: Just under 10 days until the start of the Tour de Ski. What are the plans during the break? And what's the early word on who might be racing in the Tour?
Jeremy: Nearly all athletes are staying in Europe minus a couple of coaches to prepare for the Tour de Ski. With Covid-19 about, it is more risky and cumbersome to travel back home compared to a normal year. Athletes are splitting between Davos and Seefeld to train. Out of the athletes staying in Europe, most will be starting the Tour, with some already making plans for an early exit to keep fitness going for the entire season. The US team has submitted their Period 2 start rights which includes the Tour de Ski. List of athletes that are planning on making a Tour de Ski start are below.
- Gus Schumaker - AWS
- Simi Hamilton - SMS T2
- Kevin Bolger - SVSEF
- Logan Hanneman - APU
- JC Schoonmaker - UAA
- Scott Patterson - APU
- David Norris - APU
- Kaitlynn Miller - CGRP
- Rosie Brennan - APU
- Sophie Caldwell Hamilton - SMS T2
- Jessie Diggins - SMS T2
- Hailey Swirbul - APU
- Julia Kern - SMS T2
- Sadie Maubet Bjornsen - APU
- Katharine Ogden - SMS T2
- Caitlin Patterson - CGRP
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.