Jessie Diggins and Sophie Caldwell compete at Toppidrettsveka.
TRONDHEIM, Norway (Aug. 22, 2015) – In front of a packed crowd that felt more like a winter World Cup than a summer roller ski race, Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) led the U.S. Ski Team in the 15k pursuit finale at the Toppidrettsveka stage race that concluded Saturday in downtown Trondheim. Diggins finished 10th, just ahead of Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK) in 11th, as four Americans cracked the top 16. Norway swept the women’s podium led by Heidi Weng. Simen Østensen of Norway led for the men.
The Norwegians showed off their hard double-pole technique, power and endurance in the home crowd, but the Americans put in a solid effort. “That’s one important reason that we are here: to learn,” said Head Coach Chris Grover. “We as a country need to do a better job of closing the gap on them. But it was great racing by everyone on the USA Team with a lot of really fast hard double-pole.”
Kikkan Randall (pink helmet) grabbed 11th in the final stage, despite a crash.
Weng set the pace at 36:12.0 with Diggins and Randall trailing her by 4 minutes 16.7 seconds and 4 minutes 18.5 seconds, respectively. Diggins and Randall were moving up quickly in the city center, but Randall had a tangle on the top of the last hill—breaking a pole and crashing. "I was feeling good, working in a strong pack, but fell and broke a pole near the top of the final climb and lost some ground," said Randall. "I got a new pole from a German coach pretty quickly, but it was a right handed strap for my left hand."
Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) was 15th. Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT) had an excellent race, but a crash going into the last uphill put her in 16th, and Caitlin Gregg (Minneapolis, MN) was 24th.
Andy Newell shows off the scrape after his crash.
Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) fought hard and put himself in a place to fight for a top-10 or top-15 result. But a skin-scraping crash after hitting a barrier on a fast corner put him back in 57th. Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) was the top American in 31st. Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO) was 52nd.
Overall, Stephen grabbed the highest overall result of the stage race, taking seventh place. Randall was 10th, Caldwell 13th, Gregg 14th and Diggins 20th. Hoffman was the top American man in 11th place with Hamilton 30th and Newell 32nd.
Toppedrittsveka attracted top World Cup cross country ski racers from Norway, Germany, Italy and the USA. The streets of Trondheim were packed for the final stage that was run late Saturday afternoon in the western Norway coastal city.
QUOTES Kikkan Randall Racing in downtown Trondheim with all of the spectators was super cool - probably the closest feeling to the Tour de France. You really felt like a rock star out there.
My race was pretty solid for the second day in a row. My energy was good and I felt like I was really in the race. I was feeling good, working in a strong pack, but fell and broke a pole near the top of the final climb and lost some ground. I got a new pole from a German coach pretty quickly, but it was a right handed strap for my left hand. I still had a strong finish though, so I'm pretty happy with it. I actually felt better in the second half of the tour.
The highlight of Toppidrettsveka for me was the skiathlon yesterday. The course was exciting and I finally felt like I could push myself at race levels. I hadn't felt that in a while so it was a really nice feeling My favorite part of the whole experience was enjoying the training and easy lifestyle in Aure. The organization took such good care of us and it was a really fun 2 weeks.
I'm looking forward to heading home now for a little recovery and then get back to work. This week showed me I'm on track to where I want to be and I'm feeling really motivated for the next few months!!
Jessie Diggins It was a really awesome atmosphere with thousands of spectators at the venue! The course was lined with people, music, cheering and cameras everywhere so it was a real World Cup atmosphere, that’s for sure!
I was happy with my race. I felt much better than I expected after three races in two days, but sometimes I feel like I get stronger throughout the tour and need to work into things. I was also pretty psyched that it wasn’t as hot out today - that helped for sure. I am particularly bad at performing well in the heat, as my body will just shut down after a point. So today I was pouring water all over my race bib and clothes before the start and putting ice cubes in my boots! It probably looked like overkill from the outside, but it helped me out a lot.
The race course looked like a crooked lollipop. It was two way traffic for half of it, and that part was all double pole on more or less flat city roads. Then you went up a really steep climb - I heard it was a 20% grade. You climbed for probably three to four minutes, then went back down, which seemed like it was going to be sketchy but they gave us all slower wheels so it wasn’t as scary as I thought it’d be!
My favorite part was just seeing everyone on the World Cup again. It was so fun to hang out with skiers in a more relaxed race environment and get to catch up.