Exclusive: American Starters for the Tour de Ski


Last week, FasterSkier republished a note from Cross Country Program Director Chris Grover announcing the athletes, eight men and eight women, nominated for this year’s Tour de Ski. The article, which reprints the middle part of this press release, is not inaccurate; those sixteen athletes were indeed nominated for start rights for Period 2 of this World Cup season.

But would you like to find out not only who was nominated, but also who accepted those nominations, and so plans to be on the start line in Val Müstair on Saturday? Nordic Insights, exclusively, has that information.

According to a recent email from U.S. Ski Team Head Coach Matt Whitcomb to Nordic Insights, “After acceptances and declines, here is the finalized list of TDS starters”:


  • Scott Patterson
  • Zak Ketterson
  • Gus Schumacher
  • Finn O’Connell
  • Hunter Wonders
  • Kevin Bolger
  • Ben Ogden
  • JC Schoonmaker


  • Sophia Laukli
  • Alayna Sonnesyn
  • Rosie Brennan
  • Julia Kern
  • Jessie Diggins
Sydney Palmer-Leger, left, and Novie McCabe earlier this winter.

This is a total of eight men and five women. This is, of course, less than the eight men and eight women initially nominated. The three women who were nominated to start the Tour de Ski but who declined that nomination are Hailey Swirbul, Novie McCabe, and Sydney Palmer-Leger. McCabe and Palmer-Leger are currently listed as registered for this year’s U.S. Nationals. Swirbul is not yet on the list of entrants, but told Alaska Sports Report last week that she intends to race at Nationals.

(To drill down a little further on acceptances and declines, John Steel Hagenbuch was initially named as a starter for the Tour de Ski, based on his results in Period 1 of the SuperTour. After Hagenbuch declined this start, Kevin Bolger, the first man listed as an alternate, was selected in his stead. The list received from Whitcomb reflects this, showing Bolger, and not Hagenbuch, on the list of starters. Luke Jager was the second male alternate named, but it appears that everyone else accepted their start. Jager is currently registered for all four races at U.S. Nationals.

There were no alternates nominated for women. “The [U.S. Ski & Snowboard] Working Group decided not to nominate additional athletes for the Tour de Ski,” Grover wrote in his announcement. This was “due to the logistic, support demand, and health concerns surrounding the Tour, as well as to create a balanced and fair selection platform at the U.S. Nationals in Houghton, where athletes currently performing at comparable levels can demonstrate their abilities.”)

The Tour de Ski starts in Val Müstair, Switzerland, on Saturday. U.S. Nationals start in Houghton, Michigan, on January 2.

— Gavin Kentch

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