Nordic

Gutsy Photo Finish Podium For Hamilton

by
Tom Kelly
2017-01-14 10:01
 

TOBLACH, Italy (Jan. 14, 2017) - American Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) battled his way to a fourth career podium, just missing out on the win in a photo finish with Norway’s Sindre Bjoernestad Skar. The Norwegian won by a boot tip - just three hundredths ahead of Hamilton - for his first World Cup victory.

All five of the Americans finished in the top 13, with four of five making it into semifinals. Kikkan Randall (Anchorage), who advanced as a lucky loser into the semifinals, was 10th. Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT), second in her quarterfinal heat, was 11th. And Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT), second in her quarterfinal heat, was 12th. 

Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT), who qualified sixth - one spot behind Hamilton - was fourth in his opening heat, holding onto a lucky loser spot for a while but ultimately being bumped – he finished 13th.

Hamilton won his opening heat then positioned himself in the pack at the finish, narrowly missing out on second to Skar but fast enough to be the first lucky loser into the finals. The men’s final was hotly contested, with Hamilton hanging behind the leaders until late in the race when he made a strategic move to take the lead. He set the pace into the finish, but wasn’t in a good stride position at the line as Skar just barely edged him out for the win.

"I had the best position possible going into the finish lanes, but I stumbled a tiny bit at the start of the very soft finish stretch, and it took me a second to regain my composure," Hamilton said. "I knew Sindre was coming in hot on my left as we neared the finish, and I just focused on going through the motions and setting myself up for a good lunge. It came down to the wire and he had just a little bit of a better lunge than I did to nip me by a couple centimeters at the line, but I’m still really psyched with how the day played out."

In the women’s semifinals, Randall and Caldwell drew the same heat with a crash taking both of them out. Randall was running directly behind Caldwell tucking a downhill into a left turn when Caldwell was pinched into the corner, spun around and Randall collided with her. 

 

 

“It was for sure a bummer of a way to end the day, but that is part of our sport,” said Caldwell, who had been down with a stomach ailment earlier in the week after winning a key Europa Cup sprint last weekend in Slovenia. “I felt like I skied the quarterfinal tactically well and had set myself up in a good position in that first half of the semi before falling.”

“Our skis were incredibly fast today and that was actually a little bit of the problem,” said Randall. “When our pack came down the hill that first time in the semi, everyone came together into the corner. The other girls went right so I could really only take the inside. I came up on Sophie faster than expected and tried to sneak by on the inside. But there wasn’t much space and I think I may have knocked her boot with my ski.

“I feel really bad because I think I caused the crash. It was a real bummer because both of us were feeling good and ready to mix it up. But luckily we are both okay and there was no broken bodies or equipment,” Randall added.

Caldwell took solace a few minutes later watching teammate and boyfriend Hamilton nearly pull off the win. “Seeing Simi take second and skiing the final so brilliantly made me forget about my crash today. It was a great day for the U.S. and we're looking forward to the team sprint tomorrow.” 

Sprinters Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) and Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) sat out the weekend resting after the Tour de Ski.

Sunday will showcase a team sprint. Hamilton will team up with Newell for the men, with Randall and Caldwell going for the women. Heats are set for 9:00 a.m. EST and will be streamed live on NBCsports.com.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) skied to his fourth career podium finishing second in a freestyle sprint in Toblach, Italy.
  • Hamilton was edged out by just three-hundredths of a second in a photo finish.
  • All five Americans finished in the top 13 with four making it to semifinals.
  • A team sprint is set for Sunday with heats at 9:00 a.m. EST, streaming live on NBCsports.com.

 

QUOTES
Simi Hamilton

I had the best position possible going into the finish lanes, but I stumbled a tiny bit at the start of the very soft finish stretch, and it took me a second to regain my composure. I knew Sindre was coming in hot on my left as we neared the finish, and I just focused on going through the motions and setting myself up for a good lunge. It came down to the wire and he had just a little bit of a better lunge than I did to nip me by a couple centimeters at the line, but I’m still really psyched with how the day played out.

Our techs did an outstanding job with giving us amazing boards all day, and it was definitely a team effort. It’s pretty unbelievable to see five of us in the top 13.

Sophie Caldwell
It was for sure a bummer of a way to end the day, but that is part of our sport. I felt like I skied the quarterfinal tactically well and had set myself up in a good position in that first half of the semi before falling.

Kikkan Randall
Our skis were incredibly fast today and that was actually a little bit of the problem. When our pack came down the hill that first time in the semi, everyone came together into the corner. The other girls went right so I could really only take the inside. I came up on Sophie faster than expected and tried to sneak by on the inside. But there wasn’t much space and I think I may have knocked her boot with my ski.

I feel really bad because I think I caused the crash. It was a real bummer because both of us were feeling good and ready to mix it up. But luckily we are both okay and there was no broken bodies or equipment. 

RESULTS
Men’s Freestyle Sprint
Women’s Freestyle Sprint