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Shiffrin Skis with Momentum and Inspiration

By Megan Harrod
January, 2 2018
Mikaela Shiffrin
Mikaela Shiffrin looks to continue her winning streak in Zagreb on Wednesday. (Getty Images)

Heading into an extremely busy month which will culminate with the naming of Team USA, Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, Colo.) is finding not only momentum in her skiing, but also inspiration from the performances of her cross country and ski jumping teammates. And it’s the female athletes who have been in headlines as we roll into 2018.

With podiums by cross country skiers Sophie Caldwell, Sadie Bjornsen and Jessie Diggins in the Tour de Ski and a win by Sarah Hendrickson in the recent U.S. Olympic Ski Jumping Trials, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team women have been fast and furious in the last two weeks. Add to that six podiums by Shiffrin since December 20 – five of those being victories – and the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team has some serious momentum heading into the new year and the upcoming Olympic Games in PyeongChang.  

As she heads into a big tech series with FIS Ski World Cups in Zagreb, Croatia, Kranjska Gora, Slovenia and Flachau, Austria, Shiffrin admits she’s thriving off that momentum and feeding off the success of her #oneteam teammates.

“It’s always really exciting to see teammates from the other sports having success and you see it everywhere – you see it on Instagram and we get the weekly newsletter from U.S. Ski & Snowboard – just seeing how much excitement there is across all the sports,” noted Shiffrin.

“I can get isolated in my own little bubble with ski racing and it’s really fun – especially with the Olympics – to branch out a little bit and look at the other sports and think, ‘Oh yeah, these girls I see at the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Center of Excellence training in the summer all of the time are crushing it,” Shiffrin reflected. “Knowing a lot of them on a more personal basis, it’s just really exciting to see them have success and it makes me feel a little more inspired to keep working towards mine.”

Shiffrin goes into the weekend with a healthy 471-point lead in the overall World Cup hunt ahead of Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg and a 135-point lead in the slalom standings over Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova. She will be looking to stand atop the podium at Zagreb and once again be crowned “VIP Snow Queen” as she was in 2013 and 2015 at this venue. In fact, in her last 23 starts in a World Cup slalom, Shiffrin finished on the podium 22 times, including 18 wins, two second-place, and two third-place finishes. The only exception in this run was the Zagreb race a year ago, when she straddled and recorded a DNF in the first run.

“I’m really excited to race tomorrow and just keep this mentality going,” Shiffrin said after Tuesday’s bib draw at the Ice Park in Zagreb’s city center’s King Tomislav Square. It’s good to be back in Zagreb. Last year I had a bit of a heartbreaking race here with the straddle and I’m really looking forward to skiing aggressive on the hill this year, and hopefully continue that all the way down.”

Joining Shiffrin in Wednesday’s slalom will be veteran Resi Stiegler (Jackson, Wyo.), who finished a season-best seventh last year at this venue, as well as Nina O’Brien (Edwards, Colo.) and Megan McJames (Park City, Utah).

On Thursday, all eyes will turn to the men who will also battle for the VIP Snow Queen Trophy. Veteran David Chodounsky (Crested Butte, Colo.) will headline six American men as he looks to find his way back into the top 10 in an incredibly deep and talented men’s slalom field.

The women will then travel to Kranjska Gora, Slovenia for a tech weekend originally scheduled for Maribor, Slovenia, but canceled due to lack of snow and warm temperatures. The men will head to the classically iconic Adelboden, Switzerland venue for giant slalom and slalom, as Ted Ligety (Park City, Utah) looks to build on his “Mr. GS” momentum, steadily climbing back up to the top. Not only has Ligety won here in giant slalom (2013), but he also landed on the slalom podium with second in 2006. Keep an eye out for Ligety, as we may see him throwing on the disco sticks once again and jumping into the slalom start gate on Sunday.

Nolan Kasper (Warren, VT) has been sidelined with injury the last two seasons and will be returning once again to World Cup competition in Adelboden. His last World Cup start was Schladming, Austria on January 27, 2015. Keep an eye on Kasper, as he has one career podium from 2011 and has worked extremely hard to come back from injuries.

Steve Schlanger and U.S. Ski Team alumnus Steve Porino will call the action in the coming week. See who to watch and where to catch all the action below.

Zagreb, CRO – Slalom
Mikaela Shiffrin
Resi Stiegler
Nina O’Brien
Tricia Mangan

Zagreb, CRO – Slalom
Michael Ankeny
David Chodounsky
Mark Engel
AJ Ginnis
Robby Kelley
Hig Roberts

NOTE: Final starters for Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, and Adelboden, Switzerland have yet to be solidified. Stay tuned to our social channels for updated information.

All times EST 
Jan. 3
7:00 a.m. – Women’s slalom, run 1; Zagreb –
10:00 a.m.  – Women’s slalom, run 2; Zagreb  – Olympic Channel TV

Jan. 4
6:45 a.m. – Men’s slalom, run 1; Zagreb –
10:00 a.m. – Men’s slalom, run 2; Zagreb – Olympic Channel TV

Jan. 6
3:30 a.m. – Women’s giant slalom, run 1; Kranjska Gora –
4:30 a.m. – Men’s giant slalom, run 1; Adelboden –
6:00 a.m. – Women’s giant slalom, run 2; Kranjska Gora – NBCSN
7:30 a.m. – Men’s giant slalom, run 2; Adelboden –
10:00 a.m. – Men’s giant slalom, run 2; Adelboden – Olympic Channel TV (same day delay)

Jan. 7
3:30 a.m. – Women’s slalom, run 1; Kranjska Gora –
4:30 a.m. – Men’s slalom, run 1; Adelboden –
6:00 a.m. – Women’s slalom, run 2; Kranjska Gora – NBCSN
7:30 a.m. – Men’s slalom, run 2; Adelboden –

Women’s Slalom

Watch the L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
January, 2 2018
Top cross country skiers from across America will compete for national titles this week in Anchorage, Alaska. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Jan. 2, 2017) – Top cross country skiers from across America will compete for national titles, FIS Junior World Championship spots and potential Olympic berths at the 2018 L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships Jan. 3 - 8. The week’s competitions will feature two freestyle and two classic events for both men and women, with more than 350 athletes expected to compete. All events will be streamed live on U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Facebook page and on U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s U.S. Cross Country Championships page.

All races in Anchorage are also part of the 2017-18 SuperTour and points will count towards the overall SuperTour titles, Olympic Winter Games selection and international World Cup starts. The long distance and team championships will take place March 23-28 in Craftsbury, Vermont.

Fans can also follow live timing via Superior Timing. More information on the 2018 L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships can be found at and

*times subject to change
All times EST

Jan. 3
2:00 p.m. - Women's 10k freestyle, men's 15k freestyle

Jan. 5
2:00 p.m. - Men and women’s freestyle sprint

Jan. 7
2:00 p.m. - Women’s 20k classic, men’s 30k classic

Jan. 8
2:00 p.m. - Men and women’s classic sprint

U.S. Cross Country Championships LIVE Stream

Injury Sidelines Ganong For Remainder of Season

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
January, 1 2018
Travis Ganong 1-1-18
Travis Ganong suffered a season-ending injury at the recent FIS Ski World Cup event in Bormio, Italy. (Getty Images - Matthew Stockman)

Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, Calif.), one of U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s primary men’s Alpine speed team athletes, suffered an injury at the recent FIS Alpine World Cup event in Bormio, Italy which means he will miss the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea. Post-event assessments by a medical team in the USA established that the injuries Travis sustained included an ACL tear which brings to an end the Californian ski racer’s season.

“I’m obviously disappointed that the injury I sustained in Bormio means my season is over, especially as this is an Olympic year,” said Ganong after his injury was diagnosed. “But I know I will be back, and I will be back stronger and faster than ever. Now my focus is on recovery and on supporting my teammates at the Games in South Korea. We have an incredible team, right across all the disciplines U.S. Ski & Snowboard represents, and I’ll be cheering as loudly as any of our fans when our guys win medals in PyeongChang.”

“Travis was a medal threat in South Korea, for sure,” said Tiger Shaw, CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “He has the speed, talent and experience to win, and he’s tasted podium success already on the world stage, so not having him on our team in PyeongChang is clearly disappointing, but he will recover and he will have many opportunities to win in the future.

“Looking at the team overall, in Ted Ligety and Steven Nyman, we have two more experienced, world class athletes flying the US flag in international men’s alpine competition, and we have some exciting talent coming through the ranks which bodes well for the future. Bryce Bennett, for example, has been showing good consistency this season, as has Jared Goldberg, and now we also have the exciting talent of River Radamus coming through -- a young racer who has just taken part in his first World Cup event. We have a lot to look forward to but, for now, our focus is on achieving our targets across the team in South Korea.”

Shiffrin Rings In New Year With 37th World Cup Win

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
January, 1 2018

OSLO, Norway (Jan. 1, 2018) – Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, Colo.) rang in a foggy start to the New Year with her 37th career FIS Ski World Cup victory in the city event dual slalom in Oslo, Norway Monday night. It was her second-career city event victory and her seventh World Cup win so far this season.

Competing on a tight dual slalom course covered in a blanket of fog, Shiffrin and Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener both entered the finals undefeated as Shiffrin took the first run by a slim 0.01-seconds. Shiffrin then took the second run by 0.17 seconds to remain undefeated for the evening while picking up another 100 World Cup points. Nineteen-year-old Melanie Meillard defeated Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter in the small final for her first career World Cup podium in third.

“For me, this is totally different than GS or slalom, or a traditional ski race because you have the person next to you. And I always know that my competitors really want to win - everybody wants to win,” Shiffrin said. “Especially tonight with Wendy, she is so hungry, and I have to think ‘OK, I have to be hungry too, and I have to be tougher and a little bit crazy.’ And it worked out really well for me. It’s not always that way … you have to really dig deep.”

With the victory, Shiffrin tied her childhood idol Marlies Schild, and is now sixth on the all-time World Cup win list at age 22.

In the men’s event, Sweden’s Andre Myhrer defeated Austria’s Michael Matt for his first city event win. Germany’s Linus Strasser defeated Great Britain’s Dave Ryding for third. 

With the victory, Shiffrin extended her overall World Cup lead to 471 points over Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg, who did not compete Monday. She also further extended her overall World Cup slalom lead over Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, who finished tied for fifth.

Up next, the women compete in an evening slalom Jan. 3 in Zagreb, Croatia. The men compete in an evening slalom Jan. 4, also in Zagreb.

For the U.S. women, Shiffrin, Megan McJames (Park City, Utah), Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, Wyo.) and Nina O’Brien (Edwards, Colo.) are scheduled to compete Wednesday. On the men’s side, David Chodounsky (Crested Butte, Colo.), Michael Ankeny (Deephaven, Minn.), Mark Engel (Truckee, Calif.); AJ Ginnis (Vouliagmeni, Greece), Robby Kelley (Starksboro, Vt.) and Hig Roberts (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) are scheduled to compete in Thursday’s slalom.

Men’s city event
Women’s city event

Jan. 3
10:00 a.m. – Women's slalom; Zagreb -

Jan. 4
10:00 a.m. – Men's slalom; Zagreb -


Diggins Gets to Podium in Tour de Ski Pursuit

By Tom Kelly
January, 1 2018
Lenzerheide 10k Pursuit Podium
Second-placed Heidi Weng (left) of Norway, winner Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg of Norway and third-placed Jessie Diggins celebrate during the podium ceremony at the Tour de Ski in Lenzerheide. (Getty Images/AFP - Fabrice Coffrini)

Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) skied a lonely race but held her position to take her first World Cup podium of the season to celebrate the New Year in Lenzerheide, Switzerland Monday. Diggins started third in the 10k freestyle pursuit and held her spot, remaining third after stage three of seven in the Tour. Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) dropped from fourth to fifth as Norway's Ingvild Flugstad Østberg retained her lead.

Swiss hero Dario Cologna took the win in the men's 15k freestyle with Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) continuing to perform well, finishing 22nd.

While Diggins has been having a strong season both on the World Cup and in the Tour de Ski, a podium has eluded her in the opening five weeks of the season. “I’ve been really patient this year and believed in my plan,” she said. “In this Tour I’ve finally been feeling those sharper race feelings again! Which is so much fun!”

Diggins went into the start a minute five seconds behind Østberg and more than 30 seconds from Heidi Weng. So closing the gap would be tough. “Today my plan was to go out hard and ski a gutsy race, and try to put some time into the girls behind me,” said Diggins. “It’s sometimes hard to be skiing alone but I actually loved it because I could just put my head down, hammer, and do my thing!”

Bjornsen admitted it was a bit terrifying to start fourth. “It was my goal to try to catch Jessie, and ski with her, but I knew I needed to get it done in the first kilometer, because she was going to be on a mission,” she said. “I got darned close, but not quite close enough.”

Like Diggins, Bjornsen recognized that she would end up skiing alone. “I could tell right away I was going to be on a solo mission, and needed to really push hard to stay ahead of the group working together behind me,” she said. “I managed to stay ahead until literally the last downhill, and got passed by Krista, so lost one place, but I left the day pretty satisfied. It required digging deep those last kilometers. I was feeling pretty good for the first lap, but started to really burn for the last two.”

In the Tour de Ski rankings, Diggins is third, Sadie Bjornsen fifth and Sophie Caldwell (Peru, Vt.) 18th. Erik Bjornsen is 22nd. "The vibe is pretty amazing among our team right now," said Bjornsen. "To have a podium every day of the Tour is pretty exciting!"

“It’s really fun to be in podium position right now in the tour,” said Diggins. "But my plan, as always, is to just take it one day at a time and focus on each stage separately. If I can give my best effort each day, hopefully it all adds up well." 

An ongoing factor for the U.S. Ski Team has been ski preparation. "I was really proud of our wax tech team because the past two races have been extremely tricky waxing conditions with varying snow all over the course," said Diggins. "It was hard to pick skis but my technician (Jason) Cork was so calm and collected and got me through the pre-race testing."

The Tour now takes a short one-day break with athletes traveling to Oberstdorf, Germany for a classic sprint on Wednesday. “I’m really looking forward to a day off, and then some classic sprinting,” said Bjornsen.

The present plan is for all remaining U.S. athletes to start in Oberstdorf, with some dropping out after the two days and heading to a training camp in Ramsau, Austria. Kikkan Randall (Anchorage), who started Saturday, did withdraw before Sunday's classic race to continue to rest a sore foot.

Men's 15k Pursuit 
Women's 10k Pursuit 

Men's Tour de Ski Standings (after 3 of 7 stages)
Women's Tour de Ski Standings (after 3 of 7 stages) 

Men's World Cup Overall Standings 
Women's World Cup Overall Standings

Glasder, Hendrickson Head to Olympics

By Tom Kelly
December, 31 2017
Mike Glasder Sarah Hendrickson
Michael Glasder and Sarah Hendrickson celebrate their wins and tickets to PyeongChang. (Getty Images-Matt Stockman)

Ski jumpers Michael Glasder (Cary, Ill.) and Sarah Hendrickson (Park City, Utah) ended up with two things in common after Sunday's Team USA Olympic Trials for ski jumping. Both came into the event to put on a smile and have fun. Now both are heading to PyeongChang. Glasder and Hendrickson each won against very balanced fields in a winner-take-all competition. The remainder of the Team USA ski jumping squad nominations will be announced the week of Jan. 22.

A crowd of over 7,000 packed the Utah Olympic Park - the largest attendance of any event at the Park since the 2002 Olympics, bringing the weekend to nearly 11,000 for the Olympic Trials, which were televised live on NBC.

Both the men's and women's fields were among the tightest in history. Glasder took his win by a mere 1.4 points over Norge Ski Club teammate Kevin Bickner (Barrington, Ill.). Local favorite Will Rhoads (Park City, Utah) was third. All three went 97.5 meters or longer. 

Hendrickson, the only Olympian in the men's or women's field, took a solid win over Abby Ringquist (Park City Utah) with Nita Englund (Florence, Wis.) third. Nina Lussi (Lake Placid, N.Y.) was a strong fourth with the long ride of the day at 98.0 meters, crashing on her second and final jump. 

On the opening jump, Bickner jumped fourth putting it down to 98.5 meters but losing points on landing style but still taking the lead. Glasder was up next, matching Bickner’s 98.5 meters but gaining strong style points for his landing to move in front by a mere 1.5 points. Rhoads closed out the round soaring 95.5 meters, falling more than six points behind Glasder.

In a pressure packed second round, Rhoads pushed it down to 97.0 meters - moving into the lead but not likely enough to hold off his teammates. With the pressure on, Bicker came down and crushed the long ride of the day at 100.0 meters.

Now the pressure shifted to Glasder, final jumper of the day. The veteran soared down the hill, punching down at 98.0 meters - two short of Bickner, but with picture perfect style. As the scores came in, Glasder’s stylish landings won the day by the narrowest of margins.

“Everyone was pumped up - anyone on our team could have won,” said Glasder. “I was the lucky one.”

Glasder had a rough start to his season but was coming off two great competitions earlier in the week in Switzerland with two strong finishes at Continental Cups in Engelberg.

“I was relaxed, feeling good and feeling that my technique was heading in the right direction - it showed today,” he added. “I’m looking to build on this heading to the Olympics.”

Glasder began jumping at age five at the Norge Ski Club in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. “People ask me, ‘where are you from?’ When I tell them I’m from the suburbs of Chicago they say, ‘hey, but there are no mountains there.’” The more than century-old club looked to revitalize itself in 2003, buying a used ski jump from Ely, Minn. Since then, the club has been one of the hottest in the country with athletes like Glasder, Bickner and junior Casey Larson knocking at the door. 

The women’s field provided a pressure packed competition from the start. Jumping sixth in a nine-athlete women’s field, Lussi ignited the competition with a 98.5 meter first jump - longest of the day - to take the early lead. Hendrickson was next going 97.5 but nailing the style to move in front. Ringquist and England came next, but could not match Hendrickson, who took a 6.3 point margin over Ringquist.

In the second round, Englund soared 96.0 meters to challenge. Lussi came back with another long jump at 97.0 meters but lost her footing on landing and crashed. She was taken from the venue and was being evaluated by medical personnel. After a lengthy delay, only Ringquist and Hendrickson were left to go.

Ringquist punched it out to 91.0 meters to move ahead of Englund. Then it all came down to Hendrickson, the 2013 World Champion who has battled surgery after surgery since a training crash in the summer of 2013. She pushed out and flew 93.5 meters, far from long ride of the day but nailing a perfect landing to win both rounds on style points.

Tears flowed freely as she experienced what was certainly her most gratifying win since she took World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy in 2013.

“I never really get the opportunity to jump in front of a home crowd,” said Hendrickson. “For me, my goal was to have fun and smile today. When I got up today that was what I set my mind on. I love ski jumping and that’s why we are all out here.”

Hendrickson has endured years of pain and surgery since her 2013 training crash. And she had a rough opening to the World Cup season earlier in December. “When you show up on competition day you can’t think about the aches and pains and missed training days,” she said. “I’m really happy with how I managed it mentally.”

The high caliber of the U.S. women’s field was a factor that weighed on Hendrickson and others coming into the winner-take-all event. “Honestly, we had five girls who could have won today - it was anybody’s game,” she said. “But you can’t control what the others are doing. It was a difficult field today and I’m just glad I could compete today because four years ago I couldn’t.”

As thousands of spectators flowed up to the Utah Olympic Park Sunday morning, it brought back memories for Hendrickson of the Olympics 16 years ago. “I remember when I was seven years old and walked up to watch the men’s Olympic ski jumping event - that’s when I fell in love with it. I’m a result of the 2002 Olympic legacy that Park City and Salt Lake City has continued to develop for young athletes.”

With his Olympic spot now confirmed, Glasder, who arrived late Friday afternoon from Europe, will return on New Year’s Day to prepare for the final competitions of the prestigious Springertournee - the Four Hills Tournament. Hendrickson, meanwhile, will continue training at home in Park City before heading to the final World Cups before the Olympics in Japan.

Men's Ski Jumping Olympic Trials 
Women's Ski Jumping Olympic Trials 

Two Stages, Two Podiums - Bjornsen Follows Caldwell in Tour

By Tom Kelly
December, 31 2017

Two stages, two podiums. The U.S. Ski Team women continued their strong performances Sunday as Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) notched a career first Tour de Ski podium in the women's 10k classic in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Norway's Ingvild Flugstad Østberg took a convincing win over 2017 Tour de Ski champion Heidi Weng. Russia's Sergey Ustigov won his second straight for the men. 

The USA had five women and one man in the points. Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) was strong for the second straight day in seventh. Sophie Caldwell (Peru, Vt.), on the podium in Saturday's opening freestyle sprint, was 21st, Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, Vt.) was 28th and Ida Sargent (Orleans, Vt.) was 30th. Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) was in the points for a second straight day in 27th in the men's 15k classic.

The Americans now have three women in the top seven in the Tour de Ski standings - a first in Tour history. Diggins held onto fourth, Bjornsen moved up to fifth and Caldwell stands seventh.

“Wow, what a dream day,” said Bjornsen. “That was one of my crazier experiences in ski racing.”

It was a tricky day of waxing with icy conditions and tough to kick with any wax combo.

“I decided before the race I was just going to get scrappy and make it work and never give up,” she added. “I had an awesome talk with my wax tech, JP, right before the start of the race, where he told me the most important thing that day was to trust what I do well, and never give up.”

Bjornsen had been running strong throughout the race, but didn’t get a full perspective until 7.5k when coach Matt Whitcomb screamed out to her that she was running second and had a chance to win.

“Suddenly, I had a fire lit under my butt, and I just gave every last bit for the last 2.5k,” said Bjornsen. “It was kinda fun not knowing what was happening, because it felt like a true surprise! A distance classic podium has been a dream of mine since I first started racing World Cup, so that was so fun to achieve that dream goal of mine today. Massive thanks to the team for great skis and congrats to our entire team for a collection of awesome races!”

Diggins echoed Bjornsen on the challenges of the classic track. “Today was such a weird and tricky day with the snow being totally different in different sections of the track,” said Diggins. “But I had no doubt that Sadie would crush it - she’s such a classic skiing machine and I couldn’t be prouder of her! She’s on fire!”

For the second straight day, Diggins had to dig deep into her gut to pull out a strong performance. “I was really proud of how I held it together out there,” she said. “This is not my kind of condition and it was really hard to find kick out there - I felt like I was running, herringboning and bounding up the hills! But just a few years ago a day like today would have wrecked my overall tour time and now I’m able to hold my technique together and keep it flexible as conditions change, so I’m really happy about that!”

In the men's 15k, Erik Bjornsen continued his strong season. "I’m satisfied with the start to the tour," he said. "I was hoping for a little better result in today’s 15k classic, but I can’t be too disappointed with a top 30 finish. I just couldn’t find my rhythm in those tricky conditions today. Glad the big sis could though, that was one exciting finish! Tomorrow should be another great opportunity, I’ll be starting around some big names!"

Action wraps up in Lenzerheide, the first of three stops in the seven-stage Tour, on New Years Day with a men's 15k freestyle pursuit and a women's 10k pursuit. The start of the pursuit will be seeded by results from Sunday's classic races, putting both Bjornsen and Diggins into great position to solidify their Tour standings.

"I'm looking forward to tomorrow's skate pursuit," said Diggins. "I’m starting in a little bit of no-mans land but I love the chase and I’ll just put my head down and hammer!"

The Tour de Ski is being live streamed and broadcast daily on the Olympic Channel. The women's 10k pursuit will air on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA TV beginning at 5:00 a.m. EST Monday. The men's 15k classic will stream live at 7:00 a.m. EST.

Men's 15k classic
Women's 10k classic

Men's Tour de Ski Standings (after 2 of 7 stages) 
Women's Tour de Ski Standings (after 2 of 7 stages)


Bryan Fletcher Takes Olympic Spot

By Tom Kelly
December, 30 2017
Bryan Fletcher celebrates his win in the Olympic Trials to claim his second Team USA Olympic berth. (Getty Images-Matt Stockman)

Veteran Bryan Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) came from nearly a minute-and-a-half back after the jump to take victory in the Olympic Trials at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City Saturday, earning a spot on the 2018 Olympic Team. Fletcher caught jump leader Ben Loomis (Eau Claire, Wis.) on the fourth of five laps, outdistancing Adam Loomis (Eau Claire, Wis.) by 12.8 seconds with Ben taking fourth. 

A huge crowd over 3,000 packed the Olympic venue for the mid-morning jump and early-afternoon cross country. The event will be integrated into the NBC show live from the Olympic Trials ski jumping Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Ben Loomis had taken a huge lead with a towering jump Saturday morning, starting the cross country 56 seconds ahead of his brother Adam. Bryan Fletcher ended up with the fastest time in cross country, 38 seconds faster than brother Taylor.

It will be the second Olympics for Bryan Fletcher, a childhood cancer survivor. His brother Taylor, who is seeking to make his third Olympic team, ended up fourth. The full list of Olympic team nominations will be announced the week of Jan. 22. Others can qualify for the team based on international results.

Tricky wind for the morning jump caused challenges for some and opportunities for others. Jumping sixth, Adam Loomis put down an impressive 89.5 meter effort to score 109.1 points. Next up was Taylor Fletcher, one of the pre-event favorites, who was only able to push it out to 80.5 meters. Ben Loomis jumped next with a towering 92.5 meter effort - longest ride of the day - to move into the lead. Only Bryan Fletcher remained with the eventual competition winner dropping into fifth at 86.5 meters.

The grueling cross country course was set at the base of the jumps, with a pair of lollipop-shaped loops partially up each of the two jumps, followed by a terrifying series of downhill switchbacks. The 2k course then climbed back up into the stadium with athletes making five laps.

Ben Loomis went out all alone with brother Adam 56 seconds behind, followed by Ben Berend (Steamboat Springs, Colo.), Jasper Good (Steamboat Springs) and Bryan Fletcher. 

On the first lap, Bryan Fletcher began quickly closing the gap, catching Berend and Good.

“My strategy was to attack early,” said Bryan Fletcher. “I knew if I could catch those guys I had a chance to move up.”

Ben Loomis held his own early in the race. Bryan Fletcher and Adam Loomis hooked up on lap three, getting leader Ben Loomis into their sights. The trio came together late in the race, skiing together for a lap.

While Bryan Fletcher had caught the Loomis brothers, he also knew the race wasn't over. "I would never underestimate those guys," he said. "The level of the team has risen dramatically this year - both on the jumps and cross country. I knew any of those guys were a threat."

On the final lap, Bryan Fletcher made a move to create a small gap but still wasn't sure where he stood with the Loomis brothers.  "When we were skiing together I felt they had fresher legs than I did. I had to play my card in attacking early. Once I had the gap, it was everything I could do to hold it. If it was another 500 meters they might have taken me."

Brother Taylor was disappointed but knew that bridging nearly a two minute gap in a 25 minute race would be tough. "I just didn't have the fire in my legs today," he said after the race.

The win iced an Olympic Team spot for Bryan Fletcher just two weeks after he put himself into strong selection position with a top-10 finish in a World Cup in Ramsau, Austria. Next weekend’s scheduled World Cup in Estonia has been canceled, leaving only three individual World Cups remaining before the end of Olympic selection. 

All of the athletes were a bit in awe of the huge crowds gathered at the Utah Olympic Park. "Part of the reason I was so nervous is that there were so many people out there," said Bryan Fletcher. "In the U.S. this was a real treat for us - so many people out there supporting my teammates and I. We wanted to thank them by putting on a good show. It’s really special to compete on home snow with friends and families cheering us on. It definitely helped me."

Bryan Fletcher indicated he and coaches would discuss his plans now leading up to PyeongChang, while other athletes will be heading for Val di Fiemme, Italy and Chaux-Neuve, France in hope of picking up additional team quota spots for PyeongChang.

Ski Jumping Results 
Official Final Results 

Caldwell Opens Tour de Ski in Second

By Tom Kelly
December, 30 2017

A sea of Swiss flags waved proudly as Laurien Van Der Graaf broke away in the finish to take her first career win over American Sophie Caldwell (Peru, Vt.), who was second in the Tour de Ski opener at Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) broke a pole mid-race and finished fifth in the freestyle sprint. It was a strong overall day for the U.S. Ski Team with five U.S. women and three men qualified into the heats. Sergey Ustugov of Russia won for the men.

Diggins qualified second with Caldwell third as four U.S. women cracked the top 15 coming into the heats. Course conditions were soft with freshly fallen snow and temperatures just below freezing.

In the opening quarter-final, Caldwell took the win with Rosie Brennan (Park City, Utah), who qualified 15th, finishing third. Diggins advanced in the second heat with Ida Sargent (Orleans, Vt.) fourth. Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.), qualifying 13th, was in the mix in the third heat before getting boxed out and losing momentum, finishing third. Bjornsen ended up 14th, Brennan 15th and Sargent 20th.

The finish was Caldwell's best ever in a freestyle sprint. “I really like this sprint course and I was psyched to have some good feelings today,” said Caldwell. “It's a tricky course because it's at altitude, so pacing is important.”

Caldwell’s strategy was to ski smoothly start to finish, saving pop for the finish stretch. In the finals, Caldwell was in the mix from the start. “I got a little tired in the final stretch, but was thrilled with second place,” she said. “Our techs did an incredible job with skis and my tech and I chose a pair that felt like they were climbing really well.”

Diggins showed some truly gutsy performances across the heats - snapping poles in both the quarterfinals and finals due to the fierce pack racing. “I was really proud of how I skied today,” said Diggins. “I raced with guts and never, never, never gave up. My fitness is definitely there and ready for a good tour. It feels good to feel strong, and not tired! Wow!” 

Not far out of the start in the opening heat, another athlete kicked into the tip of Diggins’ pole just as she had planted all her weight on it, so it shattered. Technician Eli Brown came running, throwing a replacement pole like a javelin but couldn’t reach Diggins. What was most impressive was that she stayed in contact with the pack for nearly a hundred meters before Coach Matt Whitcomb reached her with a replacement. Diggins then hammered up through the field to get back into contention.

In the final, Diggins’ was in the heart of the pack rounding a corner when Van Der Graaf contacted her pole and it broke. While she got a replacement quickly, it took her out of the prime racing line and with only 700 meters to go, there wasn’t enough time to catch the pack.

“It wasn’t the fault of my Swix poles at all,” said Diggins. “If a pole gets kicked when under weight, it’s going to shatter to pieces.”

“I worked hard on my sprinting all summer in hopes of being able to be more competitive in Tour events,” said Brennan, whose 15th was a career-best sprint finish. “So I am thrilled to have a strong result to back my summer training. Christmas break is always challenging because it's not all that long and it's a hard balance of rest and training. I managed to stay healthy over the holidays so I think this result lets me know I did a good job with  my training and my fitness is still good.”

Three U.S. men made the heats but were unable to advance to the semi-finals. Simi Hamilton (Aspen, Colo.), a past winner in Lenzerheide, was 15th, Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, Vt.), skiing in his eight Tour de Ski, finished 20th and Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) was 25th.

“This result definitely gives me a boost of confidence going into another race I love in Oberstdorf,” said Caldwell. “It was also really fun to ski some heats with Jessie today. We train with each other all summer and fall, so it's always fun to be racing well together. I'm very impressed with her result, especially since she broke two poles. I have no doubt that today could have been a podium day for her as well.” 

Saturday’s opener was the first of seven stages in nine days for the Tour de Ski. Sunday’s race will move over to classic distance racing. The entire Tour de Ski will be streamed live by the Olympic Channel with broadcast coverage of all women’s races on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA TV.

Men's Freestyle Sprint 
Women's Freestyle Sprint 

All times EST
*schedules subject to change

Dec. 31
4:30 a.m. – Men’s 15k mass start – Olympic Channel TV
9:00 a.m. – Women’s 10k – Olympic Channel TV

Brothers Fletcher to Battle it Out for Olympic Spot

By Tom Kelly
December, 29 2017
Olympic Trials Stadium
The nordic combined course will wind through the jump stadium five during Saturday's Olympic Trials.

Call it brotherly love now, but come Saturday Bryan and Taylor Fletcher are expected to battle it out head-to-head for a spot on the 2018 Olympic Nordic Combined Team and a $10,000 winner-take-all payout. The Olympic Trials for nordic combined kick off a weekend of events at Park City’s Utah Olympic Park.

A field of nine athletes will be vying for one nordic combined team spot with ski jumping beginning at 9:30 a.m. and the 10k cross country at 1:00 p.m. It’s free for spectators.

Despite being brothers, the Fletchers each want the win. “It’s an interesting dynamic.,” said Bryan.  “We’re each working together to be the best each of us can be. But we also know that the two of us are ultimately gunning for the line. I might keep a few tactics to myself.”

Brother Taylor, acknowledged as one of the top nordic combined cross country skiers in the world, summed up the grueling five-lap course simply: “It will be deadly. I hope we all stay on our feet on the downhills as they are very fast.”

The two kilometer course is situated in the jump stadium with the start and finish in the outrun. Spectators will see the athletes five times. The stadium is the high point of the course which screams down a twisty turn set of downhills - including a few near-180-degree corners - before a long, gut wrenching climb back up.

A key for Taylor will be how he jumps Saturday morning. ”My jumping is still not where I am wanting it to be but is very close to being competitive,” he said. “I am looking for one solid jump tomorrow and I think the rest will end up on track.”

Brother Bryan is in an interesting position seeking to make his second Olympic team (Taylor is shooting for his third). A top 10 World Cup finish in Ramsau, Austria has put him into team qualifying position. “That doesn’t change my approach at all,” he said. “Theres a lot of money on the line. And nothing’s guaranteed for Olympic selection - other athletes could get top 10s, too.”

While Saturday’s winner will get a trip to PyeongChang, the remainder of the team will be announced the week of January 22.

Both the Fletchers also know full well that their position is not secure. According to Bryan, the entire team is skiing at a high level right now. In Friday’s jump training, Ben Loomis (Eau Claire, Wis.) led both rounds. Jasper Good (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) and Stephen Schumann (Park City, Utah) also looked strong in training jumps.

The event will be televised on NBC, airing Sunday beginning at 1:00 p.m. EST.