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Newell has best finish since 2013

Sun, Nov  29, 2015 - By USSA

Rukia, Finland (Nov. 27, 2015) – Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) skied his best World Cup since 2013, finishing fourth in a classic sprint in tough conditions on Friday.

“It’s going to be fun to watch Newell this year,” said coach Matt Whitcomb after the race. “He’s in form in a way I don’t think we’ve seen before. He demonstrated his savvy today advancing from one heat to the next when he got boxed on the inside track. Instead of merging left into good tracks and more traffic, he snuck right and skied out of the tracks and directly at the coaches that were crowding the trail…Today Newell’s quick thinking and ability to adapt on the fly made a difference.”

	 In the 2015 World Cup opener, Andy Newell posted his best finish since 2013, just missing the podium in fourth. (MARTTI KAINULAINEN/AFP/Getty Images)

In the 2015 World Cup opener, Andy Newell posted his best finish since 2013, just missing the podium in fourth. (MARTTI KAINULAINEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Norway swept the podium in the men’s competition: Sondre Turvoll Fossli dominated the final heat to win his first World Cup race, ahead of Eirik Brandsdal and Petter Northug.

"Throughout the heats I played to the simple strategy of 'hammer the hill into the stadium,’” said Newell after his solid finish. “In the quarterfinal I didn't have a great downhill into the last climb so I got stuck in traffic a little bit. It's never good to be stuck behind people in the big climb. That was also a really stacked heat, so I knew if I pushed hard to the line there would be a good chance to be a lucky loser. It worked out."

In the woman’s competition, Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway won the overall race followed by Stina Nilsson of Sweden and Ragnhild Haga of Norway. Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT) and Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) progressed through each round but did not move onto the finals. Saturday is the second race of the Ruka Triple, a 10k/5k Freestyle.

After the solid showing from the team, Whitcomb also described the team dynamic as fantastic. “The vibe on the team is as good as we’ve ever had it. Although nobody here knows what Thanksgiving is, a couple athletes arranged for a 23-person table at the restaurant last night,” said Whitcomb. “So we ate pork cheeks (we think), and were thankful for being able to travel the world representing our country.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) skied his best World Cup since 2013, with a fourth place finish.
  • Norway swept the podium in the men’s competition; Sondre Turvoll Fossli dominated the final heat to win his first World Cup race, ahead of Eirik Brandsdal and Petter Northug.
  • In the woman’s competition, Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway won the overall race followed by Stina Nilsson of Sweden and Ragnhild Haga or Norway.
  • Andy Newell qualified for the men’s final heat as the lucky loser.
  • Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) and Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT) qualified for the semifinals. Sargent was also the lucky loser.
  • The U.S. qualified five into the rounds.

QUOTES

Andy Newell
Throughout the heats I played to the simple strategy of 'hammer the hill into the stadium.’ In the quarterfinal, I didn't have a great downhill into the last climb so I got stuck in traffic a little bit. It's never good to be stuck behind people in the big climb. That was also a really stacked heat, so I knew if I pushed hard to the line there would be a good chance for to be a lucky loser. It worked out."

My tactic in the final was to stay right on the big climb in case I had to jump out of the track like Northug. I came into the lanes in fourth and because of the head wind stayed tucked in behind Petter, hoping we might blaze past some people. I think we were all a little tired from hammering the hill so hard.

Ida Sargent
Today was a really fun day and I'm excited to get the season started. I was sick last week and had to take a bunch of time and missed our first races so I wasn't sure what to expect today. We had awesome skis today and I felt really strong on the climbs. It's frustrating to be so close to the final, but I'm excited for the rest of the season and really happy with my race today.

Matt Whitcomb
We’re very happy with a successful start to the season, and were so much gunning for it that our team cheer last night was ‘Fast Start!’

The waxing was very difficult today, so our service boss Oleg Ragilo put six technicians on glide testing and three on kick. In qualification, every athlete went to the start feeling confident about his or her skis, but the quickly changing conditions peppered the field with a combination of both slippery and icing skis. Overall, we fared well-above average in the qualification relative to other nations. In the heats, the techs hit the long ball. Our skis were the best.

Both Sadie and Ida were sick last week – Ida with a cold, and Sadie with a stomach virus. Their performance today reminds us all that sick one week doesn’t mean slow the next if you return to training wisely. These two athletes executed very patient return-to-training programs, and I never saw them do a session that looked to be too soon. The silver lining to illness is recovery and eagerness, and these two looked fresh and hungry.

It’s going to be fun to watch Newell this year. He’s in form in a way I don’t think we’ve seen before. He demonstrated his savvy today advancing from one heat to the next when he got boxed on the inside track. Instead of merging left into good tracks and more traffic, he snuck right and skied out of the tracks and directly at the coaches that were crowding the trail. We’ve seen Pellegrino do that before and with success, and today Newell’s quick thinking and ability to adapt on the fly made a difference.

To qualify five athletes on a sprint day is our standard for a successful qualification. We can do better and will, but on the World Cup this is still a high bar. It was only Finland, Norway, Sweden and the USA that qualified four or more women. Of note, this was Jessie’s first classic sprint qualification on the World Cup and she is psyched.

We have 12 athletes feeling good right now, so I expect we’ll be able to put together more great results this weekend.

The vibe on the team is as good as we’ve ever had it. Although nobody here knows what Thanksgiving is, a couple athletes arranged for a 23-person table at the restaurant last night. So we ate pork cheeks (we think), and were thankful for being able to travel the world representing our country