Nordic

Hamilton Fourth in Quebec Sprint

by
USSA
2017-03-17 16:43
 

QUEBEC CITY (March 17, 2017) – Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) just missed the podium in the first stage 1.5k freestyle sprint at the FIS Cross Country World Cup Finals on a cold, crisp, sunny day Friday.

Thousands of fans poured into Plains of Abraham park in downtown Quebec City to cheer Canada’s Alex Harvey to victory over Norway’s Finn Haagen Krogh, who finished second, followed by Richard Jouve of France in third. Hamilton finished fourth, just 0.07 off the podium. In the women’s race, Sweden’s Stina Nilsson took the victory over Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla. Hanna Falk of Sweden was third.

“I was psyched with how I felt all day,” said Hamilton, who qualified 16th. “I didn’t really nail the qualifier like I wanted to. I felt decent, but I didn’t feel great. Then in the qualifier, I used that as an opportunity to figure out some tactical things I wanted to do. I felt like that I skied that really well, so I pretty much did the same thing in my semis and finals, and was feeling better and better both physically and mentally all day.”

Quarterfinals

Canada’s Alex Harvey (4) leads Simi Hamilton (16) during the quarterfinals of the FIS Cross Country World Cup 1.5k freestyle sprint. (USSA-Reese Brown)

Hamilton skied brilliantly in the quarterfinals all the way through to the semifinals. In the final race of the day, Hamilton was sitting on the inside with a clean line to the finish, but a small bobble in the final 100 meters cost him a shot at the podium.

“In the final, I felt great!” he said. “A made a move about halfway through to get into position and fought hard to keep that position coming into the final stretch. But I just kind of messed up the final 100 meters. I can’t really sugarcoat it. I just didn’t ski it well at all.

“I knew that the guys behind me … had a really good draft and slingshot. I want nothing more than to re-do that final 100 meters, but that’s ski racing and you’ve go to deal with the mistakes that you make,” he added. “But I know that if I keep working hard … I’ll have some more opportunities and hopefully capitalize on those a little bit better.”

“Simi for sure was the highlight of the day,” Coach Matt Whitcomb said. “He was cagey out there today; he was really smart, very, very tactical. Unfortunately, he just had a couple bobbles in the finish stretch.”

The U.S. teams advanced five women to the quarterfinals, including Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) in sixth, Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) in 11th, Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT) in 18th, Rosie Brennan (Park City, UT) 27th and Julia Kern (Waltham, MA) 29th.

Sophie
Sophie Caldwell sits second during her quarterfinal heat Friday in Quebec. (USSA-Reese Brown)

In the first quarterfinal heat, Diggins advanced with a second-place finish as Kern, racing in her first World Cup sprint, finished sixth, but gained a ton of experience in the process.

“I made a big tactical error,” Kern said. “It’s my first time in a big stage race, so I decided to go out hard and took the outside line and went from second to sixth and lost the pack. But it’s a really good start to the weekend. I was not expecting this, so I’m just going to go out and have fun and lay down some fun, hard races this weekend.”

In the second quarterfinal heat, Bjornson was nipped at the line and finished third.

“A small hesitation was just enough to lose momentum,” Bjornson said. “It seemed like every other part of the heat seemed to have gone perfectly.”

Caldwell was also in position to advance in the fourth quarterfinal heat, but she was stepped on by Sweden’s Anna Dyvik and fell in the final 300 meters. Dyvik was given a yellow card and relegated to last the heat. But unfortunately, Caldwell finished fifth.

Sadie
Sadie Bjornsen finished third in her quarterfinal heat Friday in Quebec. (USSA-Reese Brown)

In the semifinal, Diggins trailed the pack coming into the final 500 meters, but drafted her way back into contention heading in the final climb. However, she was just out-gunned at the finish, coming across in fifth.

“She was in a good position coming into the final climb and really tightened things up,” Whitcomb said. “She tends to be an outstanding drafter … and looked good enough to win out there today, but that just the way of sprinting.”

Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) did not feel fell in training Thursday and will not be competing this weekend.

Up next, stage two Saturday is a 10K classic mass start for the women and 15k mass start for the men.

“Historically I haven’t focused too much on distance racing, but at the same time, it’s something that I’m always working on,” Hamilton said. “It’s a great course and I think it suits me well. It's pretty rolling terrain and the climbs are not that big … but it’s the end of the season, it’s fun to be here, fun to be in North America. I’m not expecting huge things out of the distance races, but at the same time I’m going to go out there and ski as hard as I possibly can, have some fun and hopefully finish out the season really well.”

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Canada’s Alex Harvey won the men’s 1.5k freestyle sprint Friday. Sweden’s Stina Nilsson won the women’s race.
  • Simi Hamilton was the top American in fourth. Jessie Diggins led the way for the U.S. women in ninth.
  • Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla finished second in the women’s race and won the overall World Cup sprint title. Norway’s Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo finished eighth Friday and became the youngest ever to win the men’s the overall World Cup sprint title.

 

QUOTES
Simi Hamilton
I was psyched with how I felt all day. I didn’t really nail the qualifier like I wanted to. I felt decent, but I didn’t feel great. Then in the qualifier, I used that as an opportunity to figure out some tactical things I wanted to do. I felt like that I skied that really well, so I pretty much did the same thing in my semis and finals and was feeling better and better both physically and mentally all day.

In the final, I felt great! A made a move about halfway through to get into position and fought hard to keep that position coming into the final stretch. But I just kind of messed up the final 100 meters. I can’t really sugarcoat it. I just didn’t ski it well at all. I knew that the guys behind me … had a really good draft and slingshot. I want nothing more than to re-do that final 100 meters, but that’s ski racing and you’ve got to deal with the mistakes that you make. But I know that if I keep working hard … I’ll have some more opportunities and hopefully capitalize on those a little bit better.

[Going into the next two races]
Historically I haven’t focused too much on distance racing, but at the same time, it’s something that I’m always working on. It’s a great course and I think it suits me well. It's pretty rolling terrain and the climbs are not that big … but it’s the end of the season, it’s fun to be here, fun to be in North America. I’m not expecting huge things out of the distance races, but at the same time I’m going to go out there and ski as hard as I possibly can, have some fun and hopefully finish out the season really well.

Julia Kern
I made a big tactical error. It’s my first time in a big stage race, so I decided to go out hard and took the outside line and went from second to sixth and lost the pack. But it’s a really good start to the weekend. I was not expecting this, so I’m just going to go out and have fun and lay down some fun, hard races.

My parents are here; along with some Dartmouth Team girls … it was really awesome.

Rosie Brennan
This was my first time ever doing a (sprint) heat in the World Cup. That was one of my goals, it wasn’t perfect, but I don’t know what you’re supposed to do until you’ve done it, so now I have a whole list of things to work on.

I just need to work on having speed changes, I have the fitness, and I just don’t have the speed though.

[On Saturday's race]
The distance races are something I’m much more confident in, so to get a little boost from having a better sprint is going to be fantastic for this tour, so I’m excited for tomorrow.

Sadie Bjornsen
A small hesitation was just enough to lose momentum. It seemed like every other part of the heat seemed to have gone perfectly. But it seems to be the same thing continuously this year. I know when I’m qualifying that well; I know I can sprint, so that’s the most exciting part.

I’m really excited for the (next two races). It’s two more opportunities to get what I came for this season, so I’m looking forward to it.

Matt Whitcomb
Simi for sure was the highlight of the day. He was cagey out there today; he was really smart, very, very tactical. Unfortunately, he just had a couple bobbles in the finish stretch today.

[On Jessie Diggin’s semifinal]
She was in a good position coming into the final climb and really tightened things up. She tends to be an outstanding drafter … and looked good enough to win out there today, but that just the way of sprinting.

BROADCAST (all times EDT)
Saturday, March 18
10:40 a.m. - Women’s 10k classic mass start - nbcsports.com/live - LIVE STREAM
1:00 p.m. - Men’s 15k classic mass start - nbcsports.com/live - LIVE STREAM

Sunday, March 19
11:20 a.m. - Women’s 10k freestyle pursuit - nbcsports.com/live - LIVE STREAM
12:45 p.m. - Men’s 15k freestyle pursuit - nbcsports.com/live - LIVE STREAM

RESULTS
Men’s 1.5k sprint
Women’s 1.5k sprint