Day One: Caldwell Takes 5th in Toppidrettsveka

2015-08-20 11:34

AURE, Norway (Aug. 20, 2015) – Olympian Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT) opened the three-day Toppidrettsveka roller ski stage race, finishing fifth in a classic sprint. Topidrettsveka is an annual weekend festival that this year has attracted the top World Cup cross country ski racers from Norway, Italy, Germany and the U.S. Ski Team. Norway’s Heidi Weng took the win.

Caldwell, who qualified 21st, had a strong quarterfinal heat. She finished just ahead of German star Denise Herman to take second behind Norway’s Kathrin Harsem, who led qualifying. She was fourth in her semifinal heat, just ahead of Norway’s Therese Johaug, to earn a lucky loser spot in the finals. 

Noah Hoffman runs to third place in the uphill race.

Weng led a Norwegian podium sweep in the finals, with Harsem second and Barbro Kvaale third. Caldwell was fifth in the six-skier finals field.

"Today was a really solid day for our team, but it was really tough! The morning started off with the uphill run and I was really impressed with the speed of my teammates. The run was solid for me, but it left me pretty exhausted," said Caldwell after the race. "It was exciting to be fighting for a spot on the podium!"

Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) led the U.S. men, qualifying 19th. He just missed out on advancing, finishing third in his quarterfinal heat. Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) finished just after Newell, missing the quarterfinals. Petter Northug Jr. of Norway took the win.

The five USA women smile after the race (l-r Jessie Diggins, Kikkan Randall, Liz Stephen, Sophie Caldwell, Caitlin Gregg).

All five U.S. Ski Team women qualified for the classic sprint heats. Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) was 11th in qualifying to lead the USA. She was fourth in the same quarterfinals heat where Caldwell finished second. Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK) qualified 18th and was third in her quarterfinal heat. Caitlin Gregg (Minneapolis, MN) and Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) also qualified for the heats, with Gregg sixth in the women’s fourth quarterfinal and Stephen sixth in the women’s third quarterfinal.

The stage race opened with an uphill foot run in the morning called the Fonna Opp. The USA scored a pair of podiums with both Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO) and Stephen finishing third.

Toppidrettsveka continues on Friday, moving to Knyken Ski Area in Orkdal for a men’s and women’s 15k skiathlon. The race finishes Saturday in downtown Trondheim with a 15k pursuit.

Sophie Caldwell

Today was a really solid day for our team, but it was really tough! The morning started off with the uphill run and I was really impressed with the speed of my teammates. The run was solid for me, but it left me pretty exhausted. I struggled to push past the tired feelings in my qualifier, but I qualified in the top 30 and was able to put my feet up for an hour before the heats. After a little more time to recover, I felt a lot better through the heats. I knew my strength in the race was the uphill finish, so my strategy during the heats was to maintain contact with the leaders and to try to conserve as much energy as possible through drafting in the double pole sections.

I was really happy with how my day turned out. It was exciting to be fighting for a spot on the podium! I know where I need to improve and am psyched to make some gains in my weaker areas before the ski season begins. 

Andy Newell
Today was a tiring day to say the least, I think this is one of the few times in my life when I've had to do two races in the same day. I tried to take the uphill running stage slightly easier in order to save some energy for the sprint in the afternoon. It was a tough race but I tried to do more hiking than running on the steep sections in order to save the body. A lot of guys were doing that. 

In the afternoon the sun was hot and it was a perfect atmosphere for a city sprint in Aure. This is the first time most of us have done real rollerski racing and I think it takes a little getting used to. I was happy with my energy and my sprint fitness is as good as it ever was last season so I'm excited to keep building. I was close to moving on to the semi finals, but was just on the losing end of a lunge. Norway has the best double powers in the world so it's fun to try to stack up to them and learn a little bit as well. 

Liz Stephen
I felt pretty good today, but we have been here training for 10 days. We previewed the course one of our first days here with some intensity, so I knew what to expect. I pushed hard on the road, knowing I would not be as fast on the trail as others, but I pushed the whole way.

It was a mass start for men and women, so there was always someone to run with out there. Heidi [Weng] and I ran the gravel road together and then she pulled away from me once we hit the trail. 

I am happy with the race, and I was so nervous before it, so I am happy to have it behind me now!

Men's final sprint results
Women's final sprint results
Men's Fonna Opp results
Women's Fonna Opp results


The U.S. Ski Team relies solely on the support of the American public. Click here to support the team.