U.S. Ski Team Update: Taking Norway By Storm
Downhill has the Hahnenkamm, snowboarding and freeskiing have the X Games – prestigious events where victories become career landmarks.
For nordic skiing it’s Holmenkollen in Oslo, the hallowed venue in the land where skiing began and legends are created. This week, amidst a flurry of titles and wins across literally every sport, America’s nordic skiers took Norway by storm, picking up a pair of wins and collecting two World Cup titles.
On the streets of Drammen outside Oslo, Kikkan Randall etched her name in the record books becoming the first American to win a FIS Cross Country World Cup title and first since Bill Koch won the inaugural series in 1982. On Holmenkollen’s Midstubakken jump, teen Sarah Hendrickson won her ninth World Cup (out of 13) and was handed a heavy Joska crystal globe – the first ever for her sport.
In the most legendary event of all, the King’s Cup nordic combined, Bryan Fletcher picked the best possible scenario for winning his first World Cup and had an audience with the king. The win by Fletcher, a childhood cancer survivor, ushers in a new generation of American nordic combined skiers two years after the USA dominated the 2010 Olympics. Fletcher wasn’t a part of that team.
But in this World Cup season he has methodically stepped his way up to the top, distinguishing himself as one of only four Americans ever to win the King’s Cup. What a way to close out a season.
Alpine: With five races remaining in the season, Lindsey Vonn mathematically secured a U.S. record fourth overall World Cup title with a giant slalom victory in Sweden. Ted Ligety won the Kranjska Gora giant slalom by the largest margin of victory in over 10 years to stay in the hunt for a fourth World Cup giant slalom title. Ryan Cochran-Siegle won gold medals in both downhill and combined at the Junior World Championships. 11 athletes, including Vonn and Ligety, will compete this week at the top 25 World Cup Finals in Schladming, Austria.
Cross Country: Kikkan Randall clinched the FIS Cross Country World Cup sprint title – first American in 30 years. She is hoping to also hold onto a record fourth in the overall standings as the tour swings through Stockholm and Falun for a mini-tour finale.
Freeskiing: Gus Kenworthy placed second in the Austrian Open in Kaprun, Austria. This week the team heads to Tignes, France for European X Games.
Freestyle: Hannah Kearney was back in form wining both mogul events in Are, Sweden. Patrick Deneen earned his second win of the season topping Jeremy Cota in the dual moguls finals. Heather McPhie was third in the women's duals. Finals in Megeve, France this weekend will conclude the World Cup season with aerials in Voss Norway, site of next year's World Championships.
Nordic Combined: Bryan Fletcher made history becoming the fourth American to win the prestigious King's Cup at Holmenkollen in Oslo with his career first victory in the season finale. Billy Demong was close behind in fourth.
Ski Jumping: Sarah Hendrickson won her ninth World Cup in the season finale at Holmenkollen in Oslo with Linsey Van fourth. Hendrickson collected her historic crystal globe with the U.S. women also taking the season crown.
Snowboarding: Elena Hight took the win at the Burton U.S. Open snapping Kelly Clark's 16 straight win streak. Clark placed second and Ellery Hollingsworth was third. Shaun White took first for the men in halfpipe, while Louie Vito placed second and U.S. Snowboarding's Rookie Team athlete Benji Farrow landed in third. Jamie Anderson took the win for the ladies slopestyle competition. Next up the team will be in Tignes, France for European X Games.
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3/18 Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix—Halfpipe, Mammoth Mountain, CA, 2 p.m. ET, Versus
3/18 Paul Mitchell Progression Session—Mammoth Mountain, CA, 3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
3/31 Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix—Halfpipe, Mammoth Mountain, CA, 3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Photo: Kikkan Randall courtesy U.S. Ski Team