Exclusive: American Starters for World Cup Period 3


A recent U.S. Ski & Snowboard press release announced a long list of nominations for Period 3 of the World Cup, which starts on Saturday morning with a skate sprint in Livigno, Italy.

The emphasis there is on nominations, but also on long: There are nine men and seven women listed for the Period 3 skate sprints, ten women for some of the distance races, ten men for the classic sprints, and 11 men for some of the distance races. Meanwhile, the U.S. appears to be allotted a maximum of seven start rights, for women, and six start rights, for men, for these races, and will enter fewer athletes than that in a handful of them.

So who’s going to actually be racing for the Americans? Here’s U.S. Ski Team Head Coach Matt Whitcomb, via email to Nordic Insights earlier this week, with an exclusive answer:

“Here is a look at our starters for the next three weekends. Livigno is confirmed, and the rest have accepted their spots, but you never know what happens with health.”

Livigno, individual skate sprint, Jan. 21

Men: Kevin Bolger, Will Koch, Adam Witkowski, Logan Diekmann

Women: Rosie Brennan, Julia Kern, Lauren Jortberg, Alayna Sonnesyn, Hailey Swirbul*

Update, Friday afternoon, January 20: Swirbul will not be starting due to illness.

Livigno, skate team sprint, Jan. 22

Men and women: TBD

Alex Lawson approaches the finish in the women’s 20km classic at U.S. Nationals, January 2023. (photo: Gavin Kentch)

Les Rousses, 10km interval-start skate, Jan. 27

Men: Ben Ogden, Scott Patterson, Zak Ketterson, Finn O’Connell

Women: Hailey Swirbul, Jessie Diggins, Rosie Brennan, Alayna Sonnesyn, Julia Kern, Alex Lawson, Sarah Goble

Les Rousses, classic sprint, Jan. 28

Men: Ben Ogden, Zak Ketterson, Kevin Bolger, Logan Diekmann, Will Koch

Women: Hailey Swirbul, Julia Kern, Jessie Diggins, Rosie Brennan, Alayna Sonnesyn, Alex Lawson, Lauren Jortberg

Les Rousses, 20km mass start classic, Jan. 29

Men: Ben Ogden, Scott Patterson, Zak Ketterson, Finn O’Connell, Peter Wolter

Women: Hailey Swirbul, Jessie Diggins, Alayna Sonnesyn, Julia Kern, Alex Lawson, Sarah Goble

Toblach, skate sprint, Feb. 3

Men: Ben Ogden, Zak Ketterson, Kevin Bolger, Logan Diekmann, Will Koch

Women: Hailey Swirbul, Julia Kern, Jessie Diggins, Rosie Brennan, Alayna Sonnesyn, Lauren Jortberg

Toblach, 10km interval-start skate, Feb. 4

Men: Ben Ogden, Scott Patterson, Hunter Wonders, Zak Ketterson, Finn O’Connell

Women: Hailey Swirbul, Jessie Diggins, Rosie Brennan, Alayna Sonnesyn, Julia Kern, Alex Lawson

Toblach, 4 x 7.5km relay, Feb. 5

[There are separate races for this event, one for women and one for men. The four women’s and four men’s starters will be determined much closer to relay day.]


If all athletes start all races as currently planned and written out above (as Whitcomb noted, athlete health, and/or tech health, is always a wildcard), the next two weeks will mark the World Cup debut for Sarah Goble (Bridger Ski Foundation), Alex Lawson (Craftsbury Green Racing Project), Will Koch (SMS/Colorado), Adam Witkowski (Michigan Tech), and Peter Wolter (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation). Mazel tov.

Who’s not racing

There were multiple athletes listed in the original USSS press release who declined their starts. They include:

  • Novie McCabe
  • Sydney Palmer-Leger
  • Johnny Hagenbuch
  • JC Schoonmaker
  • Luke Jager
  • Gus Schumacher
  • David Norris
  • Zanden McMullen

So where will these athletes be skiing instead? Whistler, mostly.

According to a recent update from USSS, McCabe and Palmer-Leger will be racing at U23 Championships in Whistler starting next week. Hagenbuch, Schoonmaker, Jager, Schumacher, and McMullen will also all be racing in Whistler; they make up the entirety of the men’s team for this event. McCabe, Palmer-Leger, and Jager were competing in RMISA races in Montana last weekend. Hagenbuch is currently racing at World University Games in Lake Placid, where yesterday he took third in the 10km skate pursuit (see post below). Schoonmaker is back home in Tahoe. Schumacher and McMullen are back home in Anchorage.

Also, notably, Jessie Diggins is sitting out at least Saturday’s sprint. She said following the final stage of the Tour de Ski that she was not completely certain when her next race would be.

What determines the number of start spots, anyway

Great question. See Rule 2.2 of the FIS World Cup rulebook, “Athlete start quotas for individual events.”

Short version: The U.S. is currently allotted a basic nation’s quota of six starts per race, for the women, and five starts per race, for the men, reflecting the relative performance of each gender in the previous World Cup season, article 2.2.2. Add one spot per gender for the current SuperTour leader, art. 2.2.4. There are other provisions in rule 2.2 that come into play when an American is the current World Cup overall leader (one additional start right, art. 2.2.3) or the U.S. or Canada is hosting a race (up to ten additional start rights, art. 2.2.5), but those do not apply here.

Notably, the SuperTour leader spot is non-fungible, i.e., when Hagenbuch declines that World Cup spot in favor of racing in Whistler, that spot cannot be filled by any other American. This is why there are no more than five American men starting any race in Period 3, not six.

— Gavin Kentch

Would you like to read more articles like this? Would you like to help cover the site’s expenses to send Gavin on in-person reporting trips to both Houghton and Whistler for U.S. Nationals and World Juniors? Find out more about our GoFundMe (terms and conditions: we’re donating anything in excess of actual expenses back to NNF), and consider donating, here. You may have noticed that there are not, currently, any ads up on this site; your support truly makes a huge difference to the financial viability of this startup website. Thank you for your consideration.

Leave a Reply

Share post:



More like this

Tallinn City Sprints: Notes and Quotes From the American Skiers

You have by this point likely digested the result...

David Norris and Scott Patterson Lead Americans in Holmenkollen as Norway Sweeps Top Ten

The Norwegian men are pretty good at distance skiing....

Viewing Guide for March 11–12: Literally Holmenkollen

It’s a big weekend for ski racing. The men...

Catching up With Jessie Diggins: World Champs Highlights and Looking Ahead to Holmenkollen

Reigning 10km skate world champion Jessie Diggins spoke with...
%d bloggers like this: