Compiled and Edited by Allison Slavick
A furious start to the 30k Holmenkollen in Oslo, Norway on March 15 set the stage for aggressive racing and impressive performances from the U.S. women competing in the famed race to close the World Cup season. Liz Stephen finished ninth, tying her own USA-best-ever 30k set at Holmenkollen in 2013. Jessie Diggins finished 14th and Caitlin Gregg (Minneapolis, MN) 19th.
The race pace was high from the very start with Norwegians Therese Johaug and eventual winner Marit Bjorgen breaking up the packs of skiers from the outset. The result was a string of skiers in packs yo-yoing throughout the course. Stephen, Diggins and Gregg all skied in the lead group early on and managed contact throughout the majority of the race. Eventually, the lead group of ten broke up and only Stephen was able to use her sharp uphill climbing ability to regain contact with the front of the pack.
The day marked the strongest distance result in history by the U.S. women’s team echoing the goals of Head Coach Chris Grover who predicted a steady improvement throughout the year.
“We were really proud of how the women skied,” said Grover. “Liz was fighting for fifth place for most of the race but ran out of steam in the last kilometer. Jessie lost a pole basket early in the race and needed to change poles several times but kept fighting back and for sure had her best Holmekollen 30k. Caitlin proved once again that she is in great skating shape, as evidenced not only by her World Championship medal but by her Engadin podium and her result today. All 6 of the women were digging really deep out there. It was a very satisfying way to end the season.”
Ben Saxton was added to the World Championships team following strong results at the U23 World Championships. A team of 17 cross country athletes will represent the US in the event that opens Wednesday in Falun. Live coverage of every cross country event will be available on usskiteam.com and universalsports.com, plus on the Falun2015 Live arena mobile app for iOS devices.
Defending World Champion ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson headlines a team of two men and five women named to represent the USA in the Feb. 18-March 1 FIS Nordic Ski World Championships in Falun.
Hendrickson will be joined by newcomers Nita Englund and Tara Garaghty-Moats and veterans Jessica Jerome and Abby Hughes. Junior Will Rhoads will join Olympian Nick Alexander for the men.
Liz Stephen, Kikkan Randall, Jessie Diggins, and Simi Hamilton lead a team of 16 cross country athletes named by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association to compete in the FIS Nordic Ski World Championships February 18 – March 1 in Falun, Sweden.
Randall and Diggins are the defending champions in the team sprint from 2013 in Val di Fiemme, Italy. The team balances newcomers and veterans in a strong and diversely talented team.
“There are good opportunities for us in bringing a big US Team to Falun,” said Head Coach Chris Grover. “We have a mix of experienced World Cup skiers and some new faces looking to make their mark at the highest level. Over the past few weeks, many US athletes have been building their fitness and it could be seen in their results in the Rybinsk World Cup this past weekend. We expect to see some peak performances in Falun.” Stephen finished second on January 23 in the 10k freestyle race in Rybinsk, Russia—the top World Cup distance result by an American woman. Stephen took advantage of perfect conditions for her light frame, colder temperatures and newly fallen snow, to ski into an emotional first World Cup podium finish and a landmark result for the U.S.