U.S. Cross Country Team Looks To Carry Period 1 Momentum Into Tour de Ski
Coming in hot on the heels of one of the best starts to the season in recent memory, 14 members of the Davis U.S. Cross Country Ski Team will kick off Period 2 of the FIS World Cup season with the annual FIS Tour de Ski Tuesday in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. With the Olympics less than five weeks away, this year’s Tour de Ski will feature six stages over eight days instead of the usual eight stages over 10 days.
Defending Tour de Ski champion Jessie Diggins is among the scheduled starters. She looks to not only protect her TdS title but pick up valuable World Cup points toward defending the overall World Cup title and the World Cup distance title. Diggins is currently fifth in the overall World Cup standings with 319 points. Rosie Brennan is fourth overall (328), but like overall leader Maja Dahlqvist (464) of Sweden, and Therese Johaug (375) of Norway, who is currently third overall, has opted to skip the event. Sweden’s Frida Karlsson (400), now second overall, and will start the Tour alongside Diggins.
Diggins plans to use the Tour de Ski as an opportunity not only to increase her on-snow racing time but prep for the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing. This season, she has already surprised herself with two podiums and a win during the opening spring qualification round. The Tour de Ski provides yet another opportunity to prove her form.
“All of this racing is how I get in shape,” Diggins said following the Davos races. “Because racing that hard gets you in shape pretty fast. So for me, it’s using the Tour de Ski as part of my preparation for the Olympics, but also – whether or not I’m working into the season, whether or not it’s part of the intentional prep phase – for me, every single race I hit it as hard as I can. And as you probably saw in Davos, I crossed the finish line, and there was nothing left.”
The U.S. women currently sit third overall in the Nations Cup behind Sweden and Norway, thanks to podium results from Diggins and Brennan and top 30 results from Hailey Swirbul, Julia Kern, Hannah Halvorsen, Novie McCabe, and Sophia Laukli. Meanwhile, the men’s team is seventh in the Nations Cup, following top results from JC Schoonmaker, Ben Ogden, Gus Schumacher, Kevin Bolger, and Luke Jager.
“Period 1 was very successful for us,” noted Davis U.S. Cross Country Team Director Chris Grover. “I’m a little surprised due to our lack of on-snow training…but I think we’ll start to click a little more at the Tour de Ski. And I expect some standout results.”
While the women’s team continues to make headlines, the men’s team has started to write an excellent sprint story, with Schoonmaker, Ogden, and Jager all posting career-best results in Period 1. “For JC to be ranked 10th (in the overall World Cup sprint standings) is really quite awesome,” Grover said. “He is getting it figured out and gaining some confidence.”
Schoonmaker has opted to skip the TdS and, like Brennan, will race at the L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships at Soldier Hollow January 2-6. However, Ogden, Jager, Bolger, Logan Hanneman, and Zak Ketterson will bring plenty of sprint power to the Tour, while Schumacher will be gunning for top results in the distance events. And speaking of distance, both Laukli and McCabe will be bringing some serious climbing power to the stage 6 final climb up the lower slopes of Val di Fiemme, Italy, on Jan. 4.
“Both of them are excellent climbers, and I expect we’ll see a top performance from each of them,” Grover said.
The Tour de Ski kicks off Tuesday in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, with stage 1 freestyle sprint, followed by stage 2 classic individual starts Wednesday. The Tour rolls into Oberstdorf, Germany for stage 3, a freestyle mass start on Friday, Dec. 31, and a stage 4 classic sprint on Saturday, Jan. 1. The tour moves to Val di Fiemme, Italy, on Monday, Jan. 3, with a stage 5 classic mass start, and concludes on Tuesday, Jan. 4 with a mass start freestyle hill climb. NBC's Peacock will stream all events.
Tour de Ski Schedule
Tuesday, Dec. 28
Men and Women’s Freestyle Sprint, Lenzerheide, Switzerland
Wednesday, Dec 29
Women’s 10k Classic Individual Start, Lenzerheide, Switzerland
Men’s 15k Classic Individual Start, Lenzerheide, Switzerland
Friday, Dec. 31
Women’s 10k Freestyle Mass Start, Oberstdorf, Germany
Men’s 10k Freestyle Mass Start, Oberstdorf, Germany
Saturday, Jan. 1
Men and Women’s Classic Sprint, Oberstdorf, Germany
Monday, Jan. 3
Women’s 10k Classic Mass Start, Val di Fiemme, Italy
Men’s 15k Classic Mass Start, Val di Fiemme, Italy
Tuesday, Jan. 4
Women’s 10k Freestyle Mass Start, Val di Fiemme, Italy
Men’s 10k Freestyle Mass Start, Val di Fiemme, Italy
The complete Broadcast and Streaming schedule is available here!
Davis U.S. Cross Country Team athletes scheduled to start the Tour de Ski:
- Zak Ketterson
- Ben Ogden
- Kevin Bolger
- Gus Schumacher
- Luke Jager
- Logan Hanneman
- Alayna Sonnesyn
- Jessie Diggins
- Hailey Swirbul
- Julia Kern
- Hannah Halvorsen
- Sophia Laukli
- Novie McCabe
- Katharine Ogden