Lukas Bauer during the Tour de Ski.
Nordic racers compete in Estonia, France and Germany BY PETER Q. GRAVES
On the weekend of Jan. 16 and 17, the men and women’s cross country
elite were off to the Baltic nation of Estonia, where the wonderful mountain
paradise of Otepaa hosted the latest in World Cup cross country racing.
On Day 1, Croatia’s Lukas Bauer, the man who found his mojo again during
the latter portions of the Tour de Ski, went on to win the men’s 15K classical;
he also advanced his name on the short-list of Olympic medal contenders.
Bauer beat a pair of Estonian veterans who were clearly ready for bear — second went to Andrus Veerpalu and third to Jaak Mae. Russian Sergey Novikov
was fourth while countryman Alexander Kuznetsov was fifth. The top Norwegian was Jens Arne Svartedal in sixth position.
Newell said he felt strong in qualifying and “even better for my quarter fi-
nal heat, which is way this is so disappointing.” The Vermont native was now
ranked in fourth in the FIS overall sprint World Cup points list. Newell was
set to return to the Green Mountain State after a grueling 10 weeks on the
road in Europe for training. He said he planned to ski in a final pre-Olympic
Winter Games tune-up — World Cup sprints in Canmore, Alberta, on Feb. 6.
The U.S. nordic combined squad spent the same weekend competing at the
popular resort of Chaux Neuve, France. On the first day of action, Todd Lod-
wick continued to steamroll along with a fine third place to lead the U.S. Ski
Team. The trio of American world champions — Lodwick, Billy Demong and
Johnny Spillane — started in similar positions following the jumping; it is
again a sign of great team depth to have the top three Yanks in the top six
overall. Norway’s Magnus Moan won the competition, spoiling a potential at-
home-victory for French star Jason Lamy Chappuis. Lodwick finished third;
it was his second World Cup podium in as many weeks, and he was followed
by Spillane in fifth and Demong in sixth place.
In combined competition on Sunday, Jan. 17, Demong led the way for the
U.S. in fourth during the last day’s event at Chaux-Neuve. Again, it was pow-
erful Magnus Moan of Nor-
way who grabbed the win,
followed by Chappuis and
Austria’s Mario Stecher in
Lodwick was 13th and
Johnny Spillane 16th. The
day’s jumping didn’t have
ideal weather conditions as
a fast-moving storm that
blew through the French ski
area, causing problems on
the jump hill for just about
“Billy [Demong] had a
great race, but Magnus
caught him,” U.S. coach
Dave Jarrett said after the
event. “He skied with him
the whole race and they
traded off spots. Finally
Magnus made a move on at
the end, and Billy was just a little bit cooked from it. It’s time for us to come
home, regroup and get ready for the Olympics.”
In a camp beginning Feb. 1, the team is training out of the USSA’s Center of
Excellence in Park City before the Vancouver Games.
Finally, in the first day of a two-day ski jumping competition in Neustadt,
Germany, Project X jumper Nick Alexander was a strong 13th, with Chris
Lamb in 54th place. Austria’s Michael Hayboeck won the event.
In the women’s 10K classical, defending World cup Champion Justyna
Kowalczyk tapped into her massive power reserves to win for Poland over refreshed Norwegian Marit Bjoergen by four seconds, with the very steady Finn
Aino-Kaisa Saarinen in third. Fourth went to Swede Charlotte Calla while
fifth went to Petra Medic of Slovenia. Canadian skier Dario Gaiazova finished
in 20th place.
Day 2 featured sprint racing in the classic technique. For U.S. Ski Team
member Andy Newell, it was another very close call in the semis that denied
him his shot at the finals. Newell missed qualifying by the blink of an eye
finishing 13th after qualifying sixth.
Emil Joensson of Sweden took the sprint victory with Norwegian Ola Vigen
Hattestand in second. Hanna Falk of Sweden continued her winning ways
this season, unseating Majdic by 0.1 seconds.
“I wasn’t out-raced, I was out-lunged,” Newell said after the race; he was
beaten by Finnish sprinter Jesse Vaeaenaenen in a photo finish.
Justyna Kowalczyk during the Tour de Ski.
GEPA (2); COUR TESY T YLER KORNFIELD