Holly Brooks, Kikkan Randall and Liz Stephen smile after last year's Tour de Ski.
OBERHOF, Germany (Dec. 27) – Seven U.S. Cross Country Ski Team athletes are preparing for the start of the nine-day Tour de Ski with the opener set for this weekend in Oberhof. It is the strongest and deepest U.S. contingent ever in the grueling seven-stage race covering five venues in three countries. Veteran Kikkan Randall (Anchorage), who was tenth overall in last year’s Tour de Ski, leads a talented group of five veterans and two Tour newcomers: Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO) and Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN), both coming off strong World Cup performances in Canada.
Seven U.S. Ski Team athletes will be on the starting line Saturday when the nine-day, seven-stage Tour de Ski opens in Oberhof, Germany
Kikkan Randall (Anchorage), who was tenth in last year’s Tour de Ski including a second in the sprint, leads the U.S. Ski Team in her third Tour appearance.
Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT), who was an impressive eighth in the final hill climb last year, returns for a second tour.
Kris Freeman (Andover, NH), seventh in the hill climb finale two years ago, is back for a third tour.
Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) will make his fourth tour visit, with three top-ten sprints to his credit.
Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO) and Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) are making debut tour starts. Diggins combined with Randall for a World Cup team sprint win in Quebec City earlier this month while Hoffman recorded a career best top ten in a 30k skiathlon in Canmore.
The U.S. athletes spent a rainy Christmas in Oberhof, with conditions continuing to deteriorate. Army soldiers are helping organizers prepare the track for Saturday's Tour de Ski opening.
Universal Sports TV will provide daily coverage from the Tour de Ski with Steve Schlanger and Tom Steitz. UniversalSports.com will carry a live feed daily of each event followed by full coverage each evening at 7:00 p.m. EST. Universal Sports TV is available on DirecTV and Dish Network, along with select local cable providers.
U.S. Ski Team – Tour de Ski Participants Men Kris Freeman, Andover, NH Noah Hoffman, Aspen, CO Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT
Women Holly Brooks, Anchorage Jessie Diggins, Afton, MN Kikkan Randall, Anchorage Liz Stephen, E. Montpelier, VT
2012-13 Tour de Ski Schedule LIVE – UniversalSports.com TV – Universal Sports TV All times EST Universal Sports available nationally on DirecTV and Dish Network, along with select cable networks.
Saturday, Dec. 29 – Oberhof, Germany Women 3k freestyle, individual start, prologue LIVE: 7:15 am Men: 4k freestyle, individual start, prologue LIVE: 8:30 am TV: 7:00 pm Universal Sports
Sunday, Dec. 30 – Oberhof, Germany Women: 10k classic, pursuit start (seeded by prologue results) LIVE: 7:45 am Men: 15k classic, pursuit start (seeded by prologue results) LIVE: 8:45 am TV: 7:00 pm Universal Sports
Tuesday, Jan. 1 – Val Muestair, Switzerland Men: Sprint, freestyle LIVE: 10:00 am Women: Sprint, freestyle LIVE: 10:00 am TV: 7:00 pm Universal Sports
Thursday, Jan. 3 – Toblach, Italy Women: 15k freestyle, pursuit start (seeded by tour standings) LIVE: 9:15 am Men: 35k freestyle, pursuit start (seeded by tour standings) LIVE: 10:00 am TV: 7:00 pm Universal Sports
Saturday, Jan. 5 – Val di Fiemme, Italy Women: 10k classic, mass start LIVE: 6:30 am Men: 15k classic, mass start LIVE: 7:30 am TV: 7:00 pm Universal Sports
Sunday, Jan. 6 – Val di Fiemme, Italy Women: 9k freestyle hill climb, pursuit start (seeded by tour standings) LIVE: 5:45 am Men: 9k freestyle hill climb, pursuit start (seeded by tour standings) LIVE: 8:50 am TV: 7:00 pm Universal Sports
QUOTES Kikkan Randall The season has started off really strong for me and after a nice recovery break I am feeling rested and ready to go again for my third Tour de Ski. I really like the challenge of these multi stage events and I'd love to improve upon my tenth place overall finish last year.
Really fun to have a full U.S. Ski Team racing at the Tour this year. Liz (Stephen) and Holly (Brooks) are both veterans now and it will be fun to see Jessie (Diggins) and Hoff (Noah Hoffman) take it on for the first time. We've got a really good staff lined up for the Tour this year and I feel confident that we have the best team behind us.
The Tour is not only going to be some exciting and challenging racing for us but I think the high load of the Tour followed by a solid recovery period will set us up really well for the World Championships in February.
Noah Hoffman I am really excited for my first Tour de Ski. It is a daunting task. I think it is important to take it one race at a time. My coach helped me think about it in a manageable fashion: first, it’s a normal two-race weekend. Then, because the sprint is not a focal point of the Tour for me, I have three days to focus on recovery. After that, it’s four races in a row that fit my strengths really well. I have done some specific pacing practice for the two short distance races in the Tour (Saturday’s prologue and the 5k classic). I am looking forward to every stage. Recovery and endurance have always been a strength of mine, so I believe this event should suit me really well. Lastly, the veterans on the men’s team, Kris Freeman and Andy Newell have helped me know what to expect and how to handle the strenuous schedule. I’m looking forward to a great event!
Jessie Diggins I am a little nervous because I know that the Tour can take a serious toll, but I'm mostly just excited to race such a big and challenging event! I think finishing the Tour will be a big accomplishment in itself, and I can't imagine a better and more positive team to be tackling this race series with.
Chris Grover, Cross Country Head Coach This is clearly the strongest Tour de Ski team that the U.S. Ski Team has ever entered. All seven athletes are coming off of top performances in the first period of World Cup, including many personal bests. With the exception of Tour newcomers Jessie Diggins and Noah Hoffman, this is a veteran squad. We are really excited to watch this team race.