APU Nordic skier Holly Brooks, shown here competing at World Championships, skied to a career best 13th in a 15k freestyle race in Davos. (Getty Images)
DAVOS, Switzerland (Dec. 10) - APU Nordic skier Holly Brooks (Anchorage) skied to a career best 13th Saturday in the 15k freestyle in Davos with three Americans in the points. Norway's Marit Bjoergen won by an amazing 42 seconds. Tad Elliott (Durango, CO) scored his first World Cup points in 27th as Norway's Petter Northug took the victory.
Holly Brooks scored a career best 13th and first time inside the top 20 in a World Cup.
Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) was 21st and Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) 27th.
The women skied two 7.5k laps with a continuous climb from the stadium up to the 4k mark, with fitness being a key factor.
Randall remained in fifth in the overall World Cup standings.
First World Cup points for Tad Elliott in 27th
Noah Hoffman 31st to match best European World Cup finish
QUOTES Matt Whitcomb, Women's Cross Country Coach I’m thrilled with Holly's 13th place finish and overall start to her season. She’s now showing that top-15 is her standard and with that comes a clear lens into the top-10. She will soon be a candidate for the Distance Red Group.
Holly is clearly skiing confidently these days as she raced in the seventh to eighth position for her first lap, giving away five spots on the final lap. Rather than criticize her pacing, I’ll give her kudos for taking a chance out there.
For Liz and Kikkan who finished 21st and 27th, today is by no means a loss. Three in the World Cup top-30 is where we now are. But with rising standards comes rising expectations and I don’t think either of these girls will say they brought their best stuff today.
As a team it was a good day, and my hat is off to Holly for leading the charge.
Holly Brooks Today was an awesome day, definitely a World Cup best for me! I was getting splits that I was leading the race - but had half of the field behind me. My second loop I started to get some info on fast skiers that started behind me and apparently, my splits were still good. When I passed (Coach) Chris Grover for the second time, he told me that I was fighting for a top ten time for the day and that every second mattered. Apparently I was running seventh through at least 9.5 kilometers. While I'm bummed that the top ten continues to elude me I'm ecstatic with my progress and hope that one day, if i'm patient, I'll be able to breakthrough!
Racing at altitude has always been one of my favorite things. Plus, today was the first race in Europe on REAL, natural snow! Coming into the race I had no idea how I'd fair against the World Cup field at a longer distance. I know that I like long races in a domestic field but you never know how that's going to translate to European competitors and courses. I think it's safe to say that I like it! Racing at altitude can also be misleading in that you never really feel that good. The pace is much slower than racing at sea level and it's mentally tough when you feel like you're not moving very fast. The best thing to do is focus on technique and keep grinding away.
Today was a grind, especially at the top of the course where there were some really awkward, off camber hills. I'm sure it didn't look pretty and I'm crossing my fingers that that part of the race didn't make TV!
The momentum behind our team is phenomenal right now and it's fun to think that we had three girls score points today! That, on top of a few World Cup medals last weekend makes, this a good early season streak for USA! Tomorrow's sprint should be fun and I'm crossing my fingers that we'll have a handful of North Americans make the heats.
Like I said a couple of days ago on my blog, all we need is a bit of confidence and continued international interface and opportunities. We have a large group competing in Europe this season, many of whom are funding their own trip(s). I think that says a lot about the dedication and commitment to getting better at the sport. These racing opportunities have been critical for me and I'm incredibly thankful that I had the opportunity to compete in these World Cup races.
Thanks so much to all the coaches, wax techs, family members and teammates who provided fast skis and encouragement along the way! (Today and 365 days/year!)