OBERHOF, Germany (Jan. 1) –Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT), the first American ever to compete in the Tour de Ski, kick started the event during the 3.7K distance race Friday in Oberhoff.
The innovative stage race is eight races over 10 straight days of cross country racing in Germany, the Czech Republic and Italy. Newell opened the tour with a 48th-place finish in a 3.7K prologue.
This year’s Tour has been altered to count individual events toward FIS points, regardless of whether an athlete competes in each and every leg. In the past U.S. athletes did not compete in the race because it overlapped with U.S. Championships and did not award athletes FIS points unless they competed in the whole tour. The event was modified in the 2010 season to award FIS points to athletes who compete on a race by race basis.
That change led to Newell’s participation. The 26-year-old is skipping the U.S. Championships in Anchorage, AK, to take part in the first five races in Oberhof and Prague.
A sprint specialist, the 2006 Olympian will compete in Saturday afternoon’s 15K classical race before attempting to bolster his eighth-place World Cup sprint standing with another shorty Sunday.
With conditions well below freezing and a slight snowfall, more than 3,000 spectators huddled up to watch Norway’s Petter Northug take the first stage of the fourth Viessman FIS Tour de Ski in a time of 7:37.4.
The win keeps Northug’s overall lead in the World Cup standings.
Friday’s "prologue" also saw Slovenia’s Petra Majdic win the women’s race in 6:35.3, 2.1 seconds ahead of Russia’s Natalia Korosteleva.
2010 Viessman FIS Tour de Ski
Oberhof, Germany – Jan. 1, 2010
Men – 3.7K
1. Petter Northug, Norway, 7:37.4
2. Marcus Hellner, Sweden, 7:38.2
3. Axel Teichmann, Germany, 7:39.4
4. Dario Cologna, Switzerland, 7:39.9
5. Sergey Shiriaev, Russia, 7:42.6
48. Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT, 7:58.1
Women – 3.7K
1. Petra Majdic, Slovenia, 6:35.3
2. Natalia Korosteleva, Russia, 6:37.4
3. Justyna Kowalczyk, Poland, 6:41.6
4. Arianna Follis, Italy, 6:42.3
5. Miriam Goessner, Germany, 6:48.0