Sophie Caldwell and Ida Sargent celebrate their third place finish in the freestyle team sprint in the Olympic test event at Alpensia in PyeongChang. (Getty Images - Chung Sung-Jun)
ALPENSIA, South Korea (Feb. 5, 2017) - For the third day in a row, the U.S. Ski Team was on the podium at the Olympic test event World Cup at Alpensia in PyeongChang. Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT) and Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT) combined to finish third in the team sprint. Sweden won the women's sprint with Russia taking the men.
Both the U.S. men and women also had near podiums. Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) and Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) were fourth, as was Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Common, VT) and Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT).
The World Cup now heads back to Eastern Europe for a weekend in Estonia before heading to Lahti for the World Championships.
Sophie Caldwell and Ida Sargent combined to finish third in the Olympic test event team sprint at Alpensia.
It was the third straight day for a U.S. podium in PyeongChang.
Russia and Sweden won the men's and women's team sprint.
The World Cup now heads to Otepaa, Estonia for freestyle sprint and classic distance races.
What a fun, hard day out there.This course is possibly one of the hardest sprint courses we've encountered on the World Cup. It's hard for a regular sprint butthen when you do it three times more or less in a row for a team sprint, it's taken to another level.
It was pretty awesome having two teams out there fighting for the podium. Ida and I are more of sprinters and Liz and Caitlin are both really strong distance skiers. I was very impressed with everyone today. Our two teams had very different tactics due to our different strengths and it was cool to see such different skiers and tactics come down to a sprint finish at the end. Our service team did an awesome job with our skis this weekend and I think they've been able to get in a lot of testing for the future.
I think the team sprint is one of the hardest events out there and I had a blast teaming up with Ida today. We've done a handful of team sprints together and this was our first podium, so that was very exciting. I think we both did a good job of staying with the pack and conserving energy when possible and hanging with people when they made a move. Podiums are always very special, but there's something about standing on the podium with teammates that makes it even better.
The courses and venue at Alpensia look awesome. Like I said before, the sprint course is hard and long, so it will be interesting to see if they shorten it a little or keep it the same. I did some training on the distance courses and those also seemed very nice. It was a valuable experience to be able to preview the venue and we're looking forward to returning next year!
That was the hardest team sprint I have ever done! There are two really big long climbs on the course so it was skiing a lot more like a hard distance race than a sprint.
My strategy was to conserve when I could but I was really happy to feel strong today! In the final Liz was pushing the pace on the uphills and skiing really fast up every climb. I was just trying to hang with her on the climbs and was very inspired by the fast pace she was setting. The Norwegian and Swede got a small gap on us on the last climb and I tried to hold onto Liz and then go for it on downhill and the sprint to the finish to get the last podium spot. Sophie was really impressive today and and skied super strong legs all day and it was amazing to be on the podium for us!
I also need to give a huge shoutout to our coaches and techs. Team sprint days are intense and they gave us great skis for every single round!
It has been really exciting to be in PyeongChang! I think it has been very valuable for us to check out the courses and know what we need to train in the next year. We raced at night which is also part of the Olympic schedule so these races were good practice for that timing as well.
I’m for sure happy with our race today. I don’t think either of us were feeling completely on our game, but we skied a really smart, tough race and there were a lot of things that clicked out there. I was struggling a bit with some stomach issues all day, so my energy wasn’t totally where I was hoping it would be, but my legs felt great and I think I paced both the semis and the finals well.
My main strategy going into both the semis and the finals was to conserve energy where I could during my first two laps, and then attack the final lap as hard as I could. In the final, it was great being tagged by Andy in fifth going into my last lap, and even though it's always a bit trickier to ski a race alone than with one or two other fast guys, it was nice to be able to focus on just skiing a smart last lap on my own with my own pacing - we had a bit of a gap back to sixth and seventh.
I knew that the Norwegian team had been disqualified, but they still acted as a really good carrot for me on that last lap since they had been gapped a bit by the French team and the two Russian teams. I was definitely satisfied with my efforts in the semis and the finals, and I think I paced it really well on such a long, hard course that suited the distance skiers well today. I’m fairly sure I had the 3rd fastest last lap, so that gives me some great confidence in where my fitness and speed are right now on such a long and challenging course.
I can also thank some wicked fast skis for that too. Our techs dialed the glide today and it definitely wasn’t the most straightforward conditions out there with a bit of new, warm snow coming down all night. I’m really psyched with how Andy skied today, and I’m stoked to get in some more team sprints with him in the future, especially at championship events. Looking forward to a great training break in Sweden before Otepaa and World Champs start in a couple weeks.