Nordic

Caldwell and Hamilton Top 20 in Planica Sprints

by
USSA
2016-01-16 07:32
 

PLANICA, Slovenia (January 16, 2016) – Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT) led the U.S. team in the 1.2k freestyle sprints at the FIS Cross Country World Cup, finishing 13th, as Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) led the men’s team in 18th.

Sweden’s Stina Nilsson, the overall World Cup sprint leader, won the women’s race, with Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholtd and Heidi Weng in second and third respectively. For the men, Italy’s Federico Pellegrino won his fourth consecutive World Cup sprint, as Frenchmen Baptiste Gros and Richard Jouve rounded out the top three.

The U.S. began the sprint day with all of the athletes qualifying for the quarterfinal heats including Caldwell, Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT), Hamilton and Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT), but from that point the day became challenging as none of the U.S. athletes advanced any further.

“In my quarter final, I got out to a good start, but when I needed to make a move on the big climb, my legs had a tough time responding,” Hamilton said. "I think I kind of just got stuck in that lower gear and couldn't make anything happen. I felt really good in the finishing stretch and managed to slip into fourth, but it wasn't quite enough to move on to the semifinals.”

Caldwell, who is currently fifth in the overall in the World Cup sprint standings, was just out of reach of the lucky loser position in the quarterfinals finishing third in heat one, after Italy’s Gaia Vuerich and Sweden’s Jonna Sundling swooped in to steal the positions from heat two.

“My day wasn't bad, but it wasn't great,” said Caldwell. “I was really hoping to advance past the quarterfinals, so it was a disappointment to be knocked out so early, but a top 15 is still a solid result. I was sick the week after the (Tour de Ski), so I'm hoping today woke my body up.”

Everyone was in the mix during their heats and fighting for leading positions, but none were unable to hold on to their spots in the final stretch. Although the U.S. did not advance any skiers past the quarterfinals, Caldwell, Hamilton, Newell and Sargent were all in the top 25 overall.  

“In the rounds, each of the four qualified athletes was in the mix and in a position to advance," U.S. coach Matt Whitcomb said. "Nobody was off the back and struggling from the start, but likewise, nobody really had the turbo for the home stretch. Tactically, I was pleased with the way the athletes and coaches prepared and executed strategy, but we fell just shy, especially with Hamilton and Caldwell. They were very close.”

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Italy’s Federico Pellegrino won his fourth consecutive World Cup sprints. No man has won four consecutive World Cup events in sprint freestyle. The only athlete to previously win three consecutive races is Pellegrino himself - last season from December-January. Pellegrino has now won six of the last seven World Cup events in sprint freestyle.
  • This is Stina Nilsson’s second sprint win of the season, moving her to the leaders position in the World Cup sprint standings. Nilsson has bumped Norway’s Maiken Jaspersen Falla from the leaders spot because she failed to qualify for the quarterfinal rounds.  
  • Stina Nilsson has reached the final of her last 10 sprint participations in the World Cup (classic and freestyle).
  • Andy Newell finished 23rd and Ida Sargent finished 23rd.
  • Simi Hamilton is 12th in the overall World Cup sprint standings, Andy Newell is 16th and Ida Sargent is 21st overall.
  • Competition continues Sunday with a freestyle team sprint, stream live at 5:45 a.m. (EST) on NBC Sports Live Extra.

QUOTES

Sophie Caldwell
Today's results were not a reflection of what we are capable of as a team, but it was still a solid day. We had all four USST members who are competing this weekend qualify for the heats and that's always something to be proud of.

Personally, my day wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. I was really hoping to advance past the quarterfinals, so it was a disappointment to be knocked out so early, but a top 15 is still a solid result. I was sick the week after the tour, so I'm hoping today woke my body up and I'm looking forward to the team sprint with Ida tomorrow!

Simi Hamilton
I'm not thrilled with how the day turned out, but it was a really tight field on a fast and short course so I don't necessarily think that I skied poorly. In my quarter final, I got out to a good start, but when I needed to make a move on the big climb, my legs had a tough time responding. I think I kind of just got stuck in that lower gear and couldn't make anything happen. I felt really good in the finishing stretch and managed to slip into 4th, but it wasn't quite enough to move on to the semifinals.

It was the tightest heat of the day, with all 6 of us finishing .8 seconds apart, so we were all fighting hard for those first 4 spots. I think our whole crew can agree that today maybe wasn't our best day out there, but we all know there are a lot more race this season that play to all of our strengths, and we're really psyched to keep plugging away.

Matt Whitcomb
Today was a pretty flat day for the team. Our regularly qualifying World Cup athletes all qualified with a little room to spare, but nobody blazed a super fast qualification.

In the rounds, each of the four qualified athletes was in the mix and in a position to advance. Nobody was off the back and struggling from the start, but likewise, nobody really had the turbo for the home stretch.

Tactically, I was pleased with the way the athletes and coaches prepared and executed strategy, but we fell just shy, especially with Hamilton and Caldwell. They were very close. It's common for a team to be all hot or all cool together, and today we were all somewhere in the middle. Our results from the qualification nearly mirrored our results in the rounds. I think today's hard efforts will awaken the bodies from our Toblach training camp.

STREAMING SCHEDULE (times EST)

Sunday, Jan. 17
5:45 a.m. – Men’s and Women’s Freestyle Team Sprint – NBC Sports Live Extra

RESULTS
Men’s 1.2k Freestyle Sprints
Women’s 1.2k Freestyle Sprints