The 13th edition of the FIS Cross Country World Cup Tour de Ski begins Saturday in Toblach, Italy. The Tour spans seven stages over nine days and includes stops in Toblach; Val Mustair, Switzerland; and Oberstdorf, Germany, and finishes with a hill climb in Val di Fiemme, Italy on Sunday, Jan. 6.
“The Tour de Ski is one of the most exciting events on the calendar”, said U.S. Cross Country Team Coach Matt Whitcomb. Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) will be looking to improve upon her third-place overall finish from last year when the 2019 Tour de Ski opens with a freestyle sprint Saturday and continues with stage 2 featuring a 10k freestyle for the women and a 15k freestyle for the men Sunday.
The U.S. is starting a lean team of seven athletes for the 2018-19 edition of the Tour as many athletes are choosing to use the early January L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships in Craftsbury, Vt. as a qualifier for the FIS Cross Country World Championships in February.
The excitement level and strategy for the upcoming Tour are captured in what each U.S. starter has to say about the event:
“The Tour de Ski is, for me, the most exciting week of the entire season! With a race almost every day, it’s one huge adrenaline ride. I’m excited for this year’s challenge of doing the entire Tour once again, and also looking to use these races and building blocks as part of my preparation for the World Championships! “
- Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.)
“I love the Tour format, with the craziness of all the travel, and day after day work. It has been nice to have a few weeks off of racing to recover and get my muscles ready to take on the intensive racing. I plan to only do the first part of the Tour this year and follow it with a training block to help me be in the best shape for World Championships in February. “
- Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wa.)
“We have had a relaxing break in Seefeld (Austria) and I'm feeling good and looking forward to racing the first few stages of the Tour de Ski before dropping out to come back to Seefeld and prepare for Dresden (Germany). I'm excited to do two skate sprints and my first skate distance race of the year in Toblach and Val Mustair and then I will be screaming at the TV to cheer on my teammates finishing the Tour!”
- Sophie Caldwell (Stratton Mountain, Vt.)
“I’m excited to start the Tour De Ski. I skipped the Davos (Switzerland) world cup weekend, so I’ve had a nice long training block to prepare for these races.”
- Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop Wa.)
“Coming off a solid period 1 with my form going in the right direction, I was looking forward to a Christmas Break to relax, but also to really sharpen my shape! Coming into my first Tour De Ski I feel strong and confident, my strategy will be like going into any other race, now I’m just looking forward to throwing down some top results! Looking forward to getting back together with the team and putting together a solid Tour!”
- Kevin Bolger (Sun Valley, Idaho)
“I’m really excited for my eighth Tour de Ski. Even though my plan is to only race through the two sprints, we’ll be heading to some pretty amazing venues and towns in Central Europe and the team vibe during the Tour is always so awesome. It’s such a unique format for ski racing, and it’s just really fun to be a part of the wild traveling show.”
- Simi Hamilton (Aspen, Co.)
“I am really excited and honored to be able to participate in the Tour de Ski. I want to just stay focused and relaxed because it’s a lot of racing and hectic environment. I think if I can stay relaxed I hopefully can finish the Tour with some good and fun results!”
- Ben Lustgarten (Burlington, Vt.)