Kikkan Randall and teammates Sadie Bjornsen, Liz Stephen and Jessie Diggins charge up a hill during a training camp on the Olympic trails at Soldier Hollow. (USSA/Tom Kelly)
PARK CITY, UT (Oct. 13) - Some of the most talented athletes in the world, including World Cup winner Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) and Olympians Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) and Kris Freeman (Andover, NH), headline the roster of the 2012 U.S. Cross Country Ski Team. The team was announced during a training and testing camp for cross country athletes at the USSA's Center of Excellence in Park City.
"We have a pretty special group right now," said U.S. Cross Country Ski Team Head Coach Chris Grover. "The leaders, the veterans on the team are really proven competitors. Kikkan is coming off her best World Cup season ever as is Kris. Those guys are in a really good place to have continued strong results."
"I'm really excited to see what all of us can do," said Randall. "I know this year no one is going to be backing off, everyone's going to be going strong and that will make it a really competitive season."
Joining Randall in the pool of women's athletes is veteran and seven time U.S. Champion Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT). Team rookies include Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA), who made her first appearance on the World Cup and World Championships in 2011, U.S. Champion Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) and World Championship team member Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT).
According to Randall, new additions to the roster like Bjornsen, Diggins, Sargent, and those on the men's side have helped push the Team forward in their pursuit of athletic success.
"We've laid the foundation and they've got people to look up to and to see that it's possible," said Randall. "I know they are also definitely keeping me on my toes. They're going to be so strong and it's nice to see so many people working together and making this a strong team."
Both Newell and Freeman had solid 2011 seasons, with Newell notching two top-10 finishes at World Championships, and Freeman pulling in his 14th U.S. Championship title.
Adding to the strength of the men's field will be team veterans Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO) and Olympian Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO), joined by new teammate Tad Elliott, (Durango, CO) and development team additions Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) and Skyler Davis (Jericho, VT).
"This is a promising young crop of athletes we have coming up. We have a bigger team because we have a bunch of athletes that emerged last year," Grover said. "They took U.S. Championships, scored top 30 results at World Championships and demonstrated not only that they're the top domestic racers, but that they're really to be reckoned with internationally."
The 2012 season is centered around the International Ski Federation World Cup, which begins Nov. 19 in Norway. A highlight of the season includes the Tour de Ski, a multi-stage tour, modeled around the Tour de France, beginning Dec. 29 in Germany and ending Jan. 8 in Italy.
Returning to lead the Team at the helm is Head Coach Chris Grover. Matt Whitcomb will lead the women's World Cup squad, Pete Vordenberg will handle the men's World Cup and Bryan Fish is the Team's development coach.
And, returning as the Team's official uniform supplier is Bjørn Dæhlie, which will provide competition wear for the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team.
2012 U.S. Cross Country Ski Team Roster Name, Hometown, Club (Skis, Boots, Bindings, Poles) Date of Birth * Denotes Olympian
A Team Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, Andover Outing Club (Fischer, Alpina, Rotefella, Swix) 10/14/1980* Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT, Stratton Mountain School (Fischer, Salomon, Salomon, Swix) 11/30/1983* Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center (Fischer, Salomon, Salomon, Swix) 12/31/1982* Liz Stephen, East Montpelier, VT, Burke Mountain Academy (Rossignol, Rossignol, Rossignol, One Way) 1/12/1987*
B Team Sadie Bjornsen, Winthrop, WA, Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center (Fischer, Salomon, Salomon, Swix) 11/21/1989 Jessie Diggins, Afton, MN, Central Cross Country (Salomon, Salomon, Salomon, Swix) 8/26/1991 Tad Elliott, Durango, CO, Ski and Snowboard Club Vail (Salomon, Salomon, Salomon, Swix) 7/2/1988 Simi Hamilton, Aspen, CO, Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (Fischer, Alpina, Rotefella, Swix) 5/14/1987* Noah Hoffman, Aspen, CO, Ski and Snowboard Club Vail (Madshus, Madshus, Rotefella, Madshus) 8/1/1989 Ida Sargent, Orleans, VT, Dartmouth Ski Team (Fischer, Salomon, Salomon, Swix) 1/25/1988
Development Team Erik Bjornsen, Winthrop, WA, Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center (Fischer, Fischer, Fischer, Swix) 7/14/1991 Skyler Davis, Jericho, VT, Stratton Mountain School (Fischer, Salomon, Salomon, Swix) 12/22/1991
Official Cross Country Equipment Suppliers Alpina Fischer Madshus Oakley Rossignol Rudy Project Salomon Swix