Wednesday, October 30, 2013

U.S. Nordic Team for Olympic season is named


By JEFF CORDES
Express Staff Writer

     World champions Kikkan Randall, 30, of Anchorage, Ak. and Jessie Diggins, 22, of Afton, Minn. highlight a team of 11 athletes named to the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team for the 2013-14 Olympic racing season.

     The team was announced Oct. 21 at the conclusion of a final two-week training camp at the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah and the newly-repaved roller ski track on the Olympic trails at nearby Soldier Hollow.

     The competitive season opens Nov. 29 in Kuusamo, Finland for the squad led by Head Coach and Head Men’s Coach Chris Grover, former Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation coach.

     The 2014 Sochi Olympic Team will be selected primarily from World Cup events this season and will be named in late January 2014.

     Diggins and Randall teamed up to win the World Championship team sprint last season. Randall won her second straight FIS Cross Country World Cup sprint title and was third overall—both “firsts” for a U.S. woman.

     Also returning to the six-member “A Team” are veteran sprinter Andy Newell, 29, of Shaftsbury, Vt., fifth in World Cup sprint standings last year, and Liz Stephen, 26, of Montpelier, Vt., who made top five in last year’s World Championships.

     Moving up to the “A Team” are Holly Brooks, 31, of Anchorage and Ida Sargent, 25, of Orleans, Vt. Both had strong World Cup performances last season.

     The U.S. Cross Country Ski Team will send another squad to the Tour de Ski stage race, Dec. 28-Jan. 5 at sites across Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

     Randall commented, “The U.S. Cross Country Ski Team has never seen so much momentum! This has been an incredibly productive summer of training. The whole team is looking fit and healthy, and we can’t wait to kick off the 2014 season in a few weeks.”

     Head Coach Grover added, “The 2013-14 U.S Cross Country Ski Team will be the strongest team that the USA has fielded in 30 plus years. Although the team will be focused on peak performances in Sochi, we expect to be fighting for podiums each and every weekend throughout the World Cup season.”

     Matt Whitcomb is the head women’s coach.

     On the “B Team” are two veteran SVSEF Gold Team racers, 26-year-old Simi Hamilton of Aspen, Colo. and 24-year-old Noah Hoffman, also of Aspen. They are joined by Sadie Bjornsen, 23, and Erik Bjornsen, 22, both of Winthrop, Wash., and Sophie Caldwell, 23, of Peru, Vt.

     Several U.S. team members are pursuing their college degrees in the Westminster College (Utah) partnership program.




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