Nordic

Caldwell Leads USA in Streets of Drammen

by
Tom Kelly
2017-03-08 10:21
 

DRAMMEN, Norway (Mar. 8, 2017) - Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT) narrowly missed out on a spot in the finals, finishing ninth to lead the USA in a classic city sprint through the streets of Drammen on Wednesday. Norway’s Erik Brandsdal and Stina Nilsson of Sweden took the wins.

Four Americans qualified for the heats. Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) was 13th and the lone U.S. man to make the head-to-head rounds. Fresh off their team classic sprint bronze at World Championships, Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) was fifth and Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) was sixth in qualifying. Caldwell was 11th.

In the first quarterfinal heat, Bjornsen skied with the pack in a highly contested race, finishing fifth 2.52 seconds behind round winner Hanna Falk of Sweden. Bjornsen had qualified strong and put herself into a good position leading up to the finish. But on the climb to the line, she initially chose a lane that didn’t go all the way, forcing her to change and lose momentum.

“It was a wonderful day in Drammen,” said Bjornsen. “I felt really strong in the qualifier, had some great skis and was so excited for the heats. Unfortunately in the final stretch, I chose a lane that didn't go to the finish, so I had to stop and go in behind the others - which simply didn't work. That was an expensive mistake and cost a day full of great feelings. Fortunately I feel really good right now, and I am so excited to keep racing and get my chance.”

Diggins skied in heat two, hanging back strategically at the start then picking her way quickly through the field to take the lead. However, a broken pole sent her to the back of the pack.

“It was an accident, but I ended up with a broken poke around the final corner so there wasn't much of a chance for me,” Diggins said. “But I was able to actually catch back to the end of the group after skiing without a pole for 100 feet and getting a new one.”

Caldwell strategically picked her way through the field in what was the fastest of the quarterfinal heats. She finished a solid third and was the fastest lucky loser to advance to the semifinals.

“My quarterfinal was a really fast heat and I felt strong on all the climbs, but got a little bogged down on the final stretch,” Caldwell said. “I lunged for third and moved on as lucky loser due to the fast heat time.”

Newell, meanwhile, went up against race winner Brandsdal in his quarterfinal. He, too, came from behind in strong fashion in a heat that featured three Norwegians. He was strong in the uphill double pole finish to take third, but the heat time was too slow to make it through as a lucky loser.

In her semifinal round, Caldwell mixed it up with a very tight pack up to the finish, but ended up fifth.

“I didn't have a very good start in my semi, but I tried to be patient and made some places up on the hill,” Caldwell said.  “There was a little bopping around on the downhill and the final stretch, but I stayed on my feet and finished fifth.”

Bjornsen finished 21st with Diggins 26th. Newell was 18th.

"I felt strong today, so I was disappointed not to advance through the quarterfinal," Newell said. "For me this is one of the most fun sprints of the season and I love to show the world that the U.S. can classic sprint with the Scandinavians. I would love a do-over with that heat, but thats how sprinting goes."

The tour now heads to nearby Oslo for the Holmenkollen Ski Festival. Men race a 50k classic on Saturday with women running 30k on Sunday. A number of the U.S. Ski Team athletes are going to Oslo, but a few are skipping the race to head back home and prepare for the World Cup Finals March 17-19 in Quebec City.

“I'm actually flying home to Vermont tomorrow morning,” Caldwell said. “I'm looking forward to a few restful days in my own bed and then finishing off the season with a bang in Quebec City!”

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT) led the USA in ninth at a classic city sprint in Drammen, Norway.
  • Three U.S. women and one man qualified for the heats.
  • Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) was 18th, Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) 21st and Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) 26th.
  • The World Cup now heads to nearby Oslo for 50k and 30k classic racing this weekend at the Holmenkollen Ski Festival before flying to North America and the World Cup Finals in Quebec City.

 

QUOTES

QUOTES
Sophie Caldwell

I was really happy with today. Drammen has historically been a pretty tough course for me. It is very gradual and favors power skiing, which hasn't always been my strength. Last year was the first year I had ever qualified at Drammen and I was knocked out in the quarterfinals, so I was psyched to have a personal best on this course making it to the semifinals. 

My quarterfinal was a really fast heat and I felt strong on all the climbs, but got a little bogged down on the final stretch. I lunged for third and moved on as lucky loser due to the fast heat time.

I didn't have a very good start in my semi, but I tried to be patient and made some places up on the hill. There was a little bopping around on the downhill and the final stretch, but I stayed on my feet and finished fifth. 

I'm actually flying home to Vermont tomorrow morning. I'm looking forward to a few restful days in my own bed and then finishing off the season with a bang in Quebec City!   

Sadie Bjornsen
It was a wonderful day in Drammen. I felt really strong in the qualifier, had some great skis, and was so excited for the heats. Unfortunately in the final stretch, I chose a lane that didn't go to the finish, so I had to stop and go in behind the others - which simply didn't work. That was an expensive mistake, and cost a day full of great feelings. Fortunately I feel really good right now, and I am so excited to keep racing and get my chance.

Jessie Diggins
It was an accident, but I ended up with a broken poke around the final corner so there wasn't much of a chance for me. But I was happy with my skis and my fitness- I was able to actually catch back to the end of the group after skiing without a pole for 100 feet and getting a new one.

I will head to the races in Quebec confident about where my fitness is! 

Andy Newell
I felt strong today, so I was disappointed not to advance through the quarterfinal. For me this is one of the most fun sprints of the season and I love to show the world that the U.S. can classic sprint with the Scandinavians. I would love a do-over with that heat, but thats how sprinting goes.

Drammen is an atmosphere like no other sprint really. Lots of spectators and its definitely the most competitive classic sprint in the World. 

RESULTS
Men’s classic sprint 
Women’s classic sprint