Compiled and Edited by Allison Slavick
Dec 07, 2014
Twelve athletes were formally named to the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team on the eve of the 2014-15 FIS World Cup season that began November 29-30 in Ruka, Finland. Headlining the team are defending World Champions Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins. The FIS Nordic World Ski Championships will be a major focal point in the season Feb. 17 - March 1 in Falun, Sweden. Randall will be defending the World Cup sprint title she won the last three seasons.
Move to A Team: Strong 2014 seasons boosted Simi Hamilton and Sophie Caldwell from the B to the A Team. Hamilton won a stage of the Tour de Ski while Caldwell finished in sixth in the Olympic freestyle sprint, the best women’s cross country Olympic result in USA history.
The Team spent much of October training in Park City at the Center of Excellence and Soldier Hollow, before an on-snow stint at the Canmore Olympic Park in Canada. Earlier, the Team had good on-snow camps at Mt. Bachelor in May and on Alaska’s Eagle Glacier in July. Other team members include Sadie Bjornsen, Andy Newell, and Liz Stephen.
The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation has launched the first capital campaign in the history of the iconic race, and will seek $2.3 million to buy property at Telemark Resort for a permanent start area, improve the extensive trails and add an outdoor recreation center. The five-year campaign, "Honoring the Legacy-Ensuring the Future," kicked off Saturday, November 1, in Cable, Wisconsin, where more than 100 people helped push the total raised to date beyond $192,000. That leaves the finish line for phase one about $458,000 away, with the goal of reaching that stepping stone by the start of the 42nd annual Birkebeiner, on February 21, 2015.
According to plans shared by the ABSF, about $115,000 will be spent on buying roughly 75 acres of the Telemark Resort property, which would serve as a new start line for the 50K Birkebeiner and 26K Kortelopet. The races, which draw more than 10,000 skiers, now start on a runway of the Cable Municipal Airport, and the course crosses the Telemark property in its first few kilometers.
Ben Popp, executive director of the ABSF, said a tentative deal for the 75 acres has been struck with Clifton Louis, who bought the Telemark property at a foreclosure sale a year ago. Once it gains its own land for the start area, the ABSF plans to build a storage building that will serve as a warm shelter for skiers on race morning. With the Telemark lodge closed in 2014, and tents knocked down by snow, the need for a building to accommodate thousands of skiers at the start line was never more apparent. Popp projects that the build-out of the start line would be completed by 2017.
For the 2015 Birkie, the ABSF will move ahead with improvements at the finish line in Hayward, including a skier bridge over Highway 63 and indoor food and changing areas in an armory and elementary school.
The next phase of the campaign, slated for 2017, includes improvements to the 107K of ski trail maintained by the ABSF. The trail is 30 feet wide and has become vulnerable to erosion in some locations. The $950,000 targeted for phase two also would be used to install water, and possibly electric service, at aide stations along the course.
Phase three, the outdoor recreation center to serve hikers, skiers and mountain bikers, is targeted for 2019 at a cost of roughly $650,000.
Popp said the annual revenue from the Birkebeiner, slightly more than $1 million, covers the event expenses and annual trail maintenance. There’s no money left for the large-scale improvements needed to sustain the race and the trail, he said.
“I think the event as a whole has evolved into a lifestyle and a community,” Popp said. “Now we’ve created these goals on the foundation side. This is the thing that needs to happen for this foundation to flourish.”
Contributions to the campaign can be made via the Birkebeiner website (birkie.com). Representatives of the ABSF will host a campaign gathering at Borton Volvo, in Golden Valley, Minnesota on November 20, and another event in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, on December 4, at a location to be determined.
IPC Nordic Skiing has confirmed the new membership of its Sport Technical Committee (STC), the group responsible for ensuring the continued growth and progress of the sport in the four years ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. The group of six members includes former athletes, classification and technical experts and will be led by Rob Walsh, who continues his role as Chairperson after the huge success of March's winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. Walsh, a former para-Nordic skier, identified the main targets for the STC in the years that will take in PyeongChang 2018 and two World Championships - one in Cable, Wisconsin, USA, from January 23 to February 1, 2015, and one in 2017. “We need to continue to progress the program and the sport events but one of our main objectives is to get new athletes and grow the impact of the sport around the world. Sochi brought a lot of publicity to the Paralympics including cross-country skiing and biathlon, so that exposure gives us an opportunity and a platform on which we can build, expand and gain participants.”
Walsh will be supported in his role by a newly appointed Vice Chairperson, American John Farra. Farra is an Olympian in cross-country skiing and is the current High Performance Director of US Paralympics Nordic Skiing.
Len Apedaile, Tor Undheim and Dia Pernot were all re-appointed, though Apedaile will change his role to Head of Technical Control, replacing Hans Peter Neeser who served on the STC for over 15 years. Russian Aleksey Kobelev, an Olympian and World Champion biathlete, joins the STC as the new Head of Biathlon, taking over from Kaspar Wirz who will continue to support the Movement in a variety of ways. Canadian Colette Bourgonje, a six-time Paralympian, will also continue as the athlete liaison.
Bryan Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) added another jewel to an already star-studded Nordic combined career, winning his first national title at the U.S. Nordic Combined Championships in Lake Placid. Fletcher parlayed a strong jump to take the win in roller skiing over brother Taylor, who won the silver. Adam Loomis (Eau Claire, WI) took bronze. Bryan Fletcher soared 90.5 meters on his morning jump to give him a nearly insurmountable lead. Brother Taylor was fastest on the roller ski track.
Sarah Hendrickson (Park City, UT) flew back into the spotlight, capping a strong return to competition with her third career national title. Hendrickson won the K95 U.S. Ski Jumping Championship at the Flaming Leaves Festival on the Lake Placid Olympic jump. Hendrickson came out on top after a tight battle with teammate Jessica Jerome (Park City, UT), picking up the win on her second ride of 97.5 meters. Nick Fairall (Andover, NH) took his second title, winning for the men. Fairall broke a first round tie with Anders Johnson (Park City, UT) with a stunning 100.5 meter jump.
Cross country skiers from all over the country will once again be making their way to Ironwood, Michigan in January for the 6th Annual SISU Ski Fest on Saturday, January 10, with Snowshoe races on SUNDAY January, 11th at Milje's Trails in Wakefield, MI. The top finishers of the Combined ski/snowshoe events will be awarded a special combined trophy. Check in at www.sisuskifest.com as details become available.
Gogebic and Iron Counties, Michigan envision a training center for Olympic Nordic skiing with teams of athletes from around the world practicing ski jumping and cross country skiing. The centerpiece would be Copper Peak where thousands of visitors watch year round international competitions on the newly restored artificial slide. This is the new vision of the Copper Peak community. New artificial surfaces would allow year round jumping. There is international interest in Copper Peak hosting future world championships. It would be the largest summer ski jump in the world and host the FIS Summer Grand Prix World Championship, possibly as early as 2016. Such a complex would host the best ski jumpers in the world including the world's best women jumpers: the USA Women's Ski Jumping Team. The last time a world record jump was set in the United States was in 1913 on Ironwood's Curry Hill.
Preparations for the largest gathering of international athletes since Sochi 2014 continue with the launch of the volunteer program for Cable 2015, including a video aimed at attracting recruits.
Organizers of the 2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships taking place in Cable, Wisconsin, USA, from January 22 - February 1, have launched their volunteer program aimed at recruiting the multitude of helpers needed to host such a prestigious international event.
The volunteer program allows individuals and groups to participate in the World Championships by helping to fill key roles and provides them with a behind the scenes glimpse into a major international competition. Depending on the length of service, volunteers can receive meals and accommodation along with complimentary merchandise.
The IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships will need between 350-400 volunteers over the 12 days of the event. Volunteer opportunities include helping with the start and finish line areas, course patrol, biathlon range, press services, security and crowd control, stadium set-up, race administration, medical and much more. Opportunities include both inside and outside spaces.
To sign up as a volunteer for Cable 2015 go to: www.Cable2015.com/volunteering
Cable 2015 is expected to gather around 150 athletes from 20 countries less than one year after the most successful Paralympic Winter Games ever took place in Sochi, Russia.