Notes and Quotes from the U.S. Ski Team’s Davos Weekend

Paddy Caldwell (U.S. Ski Team) racing to 41st in the World Cup men’s 15 k freestyle on Sunday in Davos, Switzerland. (Photo: Reese Brown / U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

It was a busy weekend for the U.S. Ski Team in Davos, Switzerland, with some successes and some not-so-great races. Kikkan Randall returned to the podium, and six different women had top-20 results – including two each from Randall, Jessie Diggins, and Sadie Bjornsen. Sprinter Simi Hamilton had his first top-10 of the season.

We’ve already posted our race reports – for the women’s sprint, men’s sprint, women’s 10 k, and men’s 15 k– but for even more from the American athletes about the weekend, read on.

On Sprint Qualifying

“When you look at this course you think it’s a flat, easy, short sprint, and it is short and it is flat but it’s absolutely not easy. My qualifier I was bib number one, so I had no one to gauge off of. I mis-paced it a little and got tired the second lap, and I was like, ‘I am not going to make it up the hill the second time!’ I finished and I didn’t think it was a good one, but then my name was staying up there. I was like, alright, you know it’s not a day where you can really judge by how you’re feeling, because it’s never going to feel good here.”

-Sophie Caldwell, ninth in sprint qualifier

One of the sprint quarterfinals in Davos, Switzerland, crests the course’s big hill on Saturday. (Photo: Reese Brown / U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

“I think that was one of my best qualifiers ever, classic or skate. I was feeling really good in Ruka. Then last weekend was horrible. I struggled with skis on the first day and some asthma issues the next. It definitely took a hit to my confidence. But this past week was a good challenge for putting it together. I’ve been feeling good.”

-Ida Sargent, fifth in sprint qualifier

“The qualifier was really hard. I didn’t feel very good because I went a bit too hard on the first lap and died a little bit on the second. At altitude it never feels good. So I was actually really pleasantly surprised to see where I ended up finishing.”

-Sadie Bjornsen, 11th in sprint qualifier

“It was pretty good. I was a lot happier than Ruka. Ruka wasn’t really very good, but today I felt like I could push a little bit harder, so I’d say, it’s still early season, but it’s a step forward.”

-Julia Kern, 57th in sprint qualifier

On *That* Corner in the Stadium

“I ate shit on that corner on the first lap [of the qualifier]. I think I just came into it too straight and with a little too much speed. I tried to scrub it but it’s so tight that the skis went out from under me right away.”

-Patrick Caldwell, 108th in sprint qualifier

Scott Patterson racing to 88th in the 15 k skate. (Photo: Reese Brown / U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

“That corner is sketchy because it’s really icy on the inside – the best line – but you can’t really see where the ice is. So in order to avoid it you have to go wide, which is just slower and shoots you really wide. I was doing that in my quarterfinal, and in the semifinal I thought – being a good downhill skier is knowing how to ski on ice, and you have to know it’s there but you can’t be scared of it. So this time I tried to ski a little more inside and I think that was good.”

-Sophie Caldwell

On Having Fast Skis

“I didn’t know what to expect, but I have been feeling really good in training, and I believed that it’s possible — and we had amazing skis today. The techs did an awesome job. To have like five of us in the top 13 for girls, and four in the semis and three in the final, it’s just an awesome day. And it shows the great work our whole team is doing.”

-Ida Sargent

“Clearly, we had great skis, to put seven athletes in the top 12 in qualification means that the service guys are just hitting it out of the park. We probably had the best skis out there today, which is gratifying. When you’ve just spent a lot of money on a brand new truck, you want to see that — and the CEO of US Ski & Snowboard happens to be in town, and some VIP’s — some people from our board of directors. So it’s really gratifying to see the service guys put it together and athletes kind of put it together on the same day.”

-Chris Grover, U.S. Ski Team Head Coach

“We had ripping skis today. It has been a fun day, and a great day for the team.”

-Sophie Caldwell

On Racing with Teammates in the Heats

Ida Sargent leads her semifinal heat, including Jessie Diggins and Sophie Caldwell, around a corner. (Photo: Reese Brown / U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

“I always feel more comfortable with my teammates. You’re used to skiing around them, I know that while we are all out for our individual performances, we will also look out for each other. My favorite thing before World Championships last year, in Lahti, we did a little cheer together, and we did that again today, so it seems to work.”

-Kikkan Randall, third in sprint final

“I don’t mind skiing with teammates. I actually feel like it’s kind of a nice mix. You know they have your back and they’re not going to do something to impede you.”

-Sophie Caldwell

On Fast Starts to the Season

“I guess I’ve been a little bit surprised that the team’s in as good a shape as we are, given that we haven’t skied as much as some of the Scandinavians and the Russians that we’re going up against right now. But people are healthy, they’ve trained well this year, and we’re making good skis, so there’s gonna be more good stuff to come.”

-Chris Grover

“The World Cup, you kind of have to come on hot and go for it. And I mean, I’m definitely trying to build in some training blocks, so its not going all in for this first period, but I’ trying to remember the big stuff is coming in February.”

-Ida Sargent

Rosie Brennan racing to 17th in the 10 k skate. (Photo: Reese Brown / U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

“I think I just took my autumn a little better, a little wiser. I finished school in August so I didn’t have any class or anything. I was able to just focus on recovery and training. The whole summer was good training. There wasn’t anything crazy I needed to do, just keep it steady. And I’ve been really healthy so that has been fantastic… I think we are all training at a high enough level now that we can have good races the whole season and have that kind of fitness. I feel like there’s never a harm in trying to get some confidence right off the bat. That can go a long way. So that was kind of my method, to try to stay steady.”

-Rosie Brennan, 17th in 10 k skate

On Slow Starts to the Season

“I think, for me, I tend to have a slow start to the season. It can be really discouraging at the beginning, especially when you have such a strong team who are performing so well. You want to be a part of it and feel like you’re giving back to the team, not only in your person, which is the more important part of course, but the actual results, too. I’ve been trying to work my way into the season, have every race be better than the one before. I haven’t seen results, but it was a step forward for me today just because I was inspired to be racing, and I haven’t felt that yet this season. So that was a big step.”

-Liz Stephen, 40th in 10 k skate

Liz Stephen skiing with Sweden’s Ida Ingemarsdotter in the 10 k skate. (Photo: Reese Brown / U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

On Davos Prizes

“If I had known there was a sled for the win, man! I would have found another gear!”

-Kikkan Randall

On Olympic Qualification

“I try not to think about that. I don’t think [the Davos sprint] is a guaranteed qualification because it’s not a classic sprint. I’m just trying to keep moving up and keep putting together better races. It is awesome to see Kikkan on the podium today and Jessie there too, and we have just got a lot of momentum.”

-Ida Sargent

On Perspective

“It definitely feels different than when I just got on the podium here five years ago or something like that. But it’s really fun to be back in the mix. And to know that this is my last Davos sprint. To go out with a bang feels good.”

-Kikkan Randall

“It’s not fun to have a race that’s just not what you want. But keeping it in perspective, a few years ago that would have been my best race.”

-Jessie Diggins, 15th in 10 k skate

Tired? Not Tired?

Andy Newell rounding a corner in his quarterfinal sprint heat. (Photo: Reese Brown / U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

“I still feel really good. It’s seemingly harder to do [sprint] rounds — I never realized that before. So it’s a little harder hit on me, but I have been trying to be really good at recovering during the week and I am kind of staying ahead of the fatigue.”

-Sadie Bjornsen, Saturday

“I’m hoping that I get some recovery this week. I feel pretty tired. Yesterday I was a little disappointed and I think it was maybe just a little bit of fatigue holding me back. So yeah, I’m going to walk away from this weekend happy to hopefully take a few super easy days of recovery.”

-Sadie Bjornsen, Sunday

“I’ve actually been feeling better as we go. So I think if we’re just smart during the week, I feel pretty good for one more weekend. Then there’s a little break and we go into the next weekend.”

-Kikkan Randall

— Chelsea Little, Ian Tovell, and Andrea Potyodny-Smith contributed 

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