Drammen Sprints

This weekend the International Ski Federation (FIS) is trying something new with ski exchanges in 50 kilometer races. FIS has been allowing ski exchanges in long races for several years in order to make the race more exciting to TV viewers and make it more fair to the athletes. The race will be six laps of 8.3 kilometers each. There are five opportunities to change skis, each time you ski through the stadium. Each athlete is only permitted three exchanges. On Saturday they are going to add a distance penalty to the ski exchange to break the race apart. Here’s a look at how the penalty will work. The green line is the path you’ll ski when you don’t exchange and the red when you do want to change skis. The pit will be at the blue line:

Holmenkollen 2013 Ski Exchange Penalty

Yesterday was the second to last World Cup sprint of the year in Drammen, Norway, 45 kilometers from Oslo. I went to watch the race with Liz Stephen. It was fun to be a tourist and see the race from the spectator’s perspective. There was a band playing.

Drammen World Cup Band

It was a pain to fight the crowds.

Drammen World Cup Fans

We used our athlete bibs to watch the race from inside the fence. Here are Andy Newell and his wax tech Peter Johansson testing skis before the heats:

Andy Newell Drammen 2013

Here is Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla in the ladies’ quarterfinal.

Charolette Kalla

Sadie Bjornsen qualified (top-30) in her first World Cup classic sprint. Here she is in the quarterfinal:

Sadie Bjornsen Drammen 2013

Sadie said that her skis were slow in the heat. It was a tough waxing day. She ended up 30th. Kikkan Randall followed up her World Cup globe and win last weekend with a fifth place finish yesterday. Kikkan has traditionally been stronger in skating, so yesterday was a good day. Here she is (in fourth place) at the beginning of her quarterfinal.

Kikkan Randall Quarterfinal Drammen 2013

Here she is, wearing the red sprint cup leader’s bib, in the same heat.

Kikkan Randall Drammen 2013

Andy Newell had an unlucky day. He was skiing with the leaders in his quarterfinal heat when a competitor stuck his pole into the tip of Andy’s ski. He fell extremely fast. The pole put a hole all the way through the ski. He didn’t advance out of the quarters. Here he is in that heat:

Andy Newell Drammen 2013 Quarterfinal

Russian Nikita Kriukov, World and Olympic champion, ended up third in the race:

Nikita Kriukov Drammen 2013

Torin Koos, on the World Cup as a leader of the US Super Tour, had a great day with an 18th place finish. Torin is the first athlete this year to be here as a Super Tour leader and score World Cup points (top-30). Here he is in the quarterfinal, second in line:

Torin Koos Quarterfinal Drammen 2013

Drammen is a city sprint, held on snow that has been trucked onto the streets. It is a relatively flat course, but the finishing straight is gradual up then kicks up at the end. For most of the men in the field, it is a difficult decision whether to use skate skis (and double pole the entire course without using your legs) or go on traditional classic skis. Some of the athletes, like Kriukov, used skate skis for most of the race then switched to classic skis for the final. Here’s a look at Norwegian Finn Haagen Krogh, out front of the pack, double poling up the final stretch:

Finn Haagen Krogh Drammen 2013

I watched the race with a Norwegian friend Ingvild Flatland, Peter Kling (center) from Alaska Pacific University who is here to race the Birkebeiner ski marathon this weekend and Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess who is here as the Super Tour sprint leader. Dakota didn’t qualify for the heats yesterday:

Ingvild, Peter, and Dakota

Here I am with Peter and Dakota:

Peter, Dakota and Noah

The crowds in Drammen (and pretty much anywhere there is a World Cup in Norway) were great.

Drammen 2013 Crowds

We watched the race from the back of a snowcat that was parked in the middle of the course. We had the best view in the house. Here’s Dakota checking out the scene:

Dakota Checking out the Drammen Sprints 2013

We had a sweet view of the finish. Here’s Finland’s Mona-Lisa Malvalehto winning her semifinal en route to a sixth place finish:

Malvalehto Drammen 2013

Here’s Kikkan finishing fourth in the semifinal. She got a lucky-loser spot in the final.

Semifinal Finish Drammen 2013

Here is third place finisher Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg of Norway celebrating after the final:

Ingvild Flugstad Oestburg Drammen 2013

After yesterday’s race I am sitting in 51st place on the overall World Cup, one point behind 50th. There are also good distance skiers behind me, so I need to ski well on Saturday to advance to the top-50 and World Cup finals next week.

1 thought on “Drammen Sprints

  1. Great post, and fabulous pictures. Let’s hope FIS reconsiders those penalty laps for the ski changes, and also that they renew Drammen as a world cup arena beyond next year. It truly is a spectacular crowd event. Best of luck on the 50K tomorrow; I’ll be rooting for you to place well into the points and secure a spot in the Falun finals!

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