US Ski Team fans have had a lot to be excited about lately. The first three weekends of World Cup action in across Finland and Sweden have been capped by a flurry of podiums for the US Relay Team, JC Schoonmaker, Rosie Brennan, and Jessie Diggins. And while those moments have been experienced as pure, unbridled, jubilation for the US Ski Community, there’s also been a theme established which promises to take this particular US Ski Team to a more total version of World Cup success; development.
There is more depth to American success so far this season, adding dynamism to the glitter, and sparkle of those donning the red, white, and blue at the sport’s highest level. Different skiers filing in to give US fans something to cheer about no matter the format or technique on race day. The hard-fought first career podium for JC Schoonmaker, with Ben Ogden in his first Sprint Final right behind. A generation of young American skiers starting to peek into the top 30, top 20, top 15,or even top 10; John Steel Hagenbuch, Gus Schumacher, Zanden McMullen, Novie McCabe and Sophia Laukli all making prodigious moves up the World Cup circuit. As Team USA’s veterans climb are reaching a zenith, the youthful US Team remains on a steady trajectory of growth into sustainable success.
Likewise, the infrastructure supporting that Team is growing too. The World Cup weekend in Gallivare, Sweden was the first time that the US Ski Team staff has included 2 of NNF’s Trail to Gold Coaches working simultaneously, with Minneapolis Ski Club/Team Birkie Coach Erin Moening entering her second week of coaching, while Williams College’s Annika Martell joined up for the first week of her two week grant this season.
For Annika Martell, it was also her second stint on on the World Cup, after taking part as part of the inaugural Trail to Gold Coaching Grant last season. Martell completed her first Trail to Gold stint last year, during which Jessie Diggins and Rosie Brennan completed their first duel podium performance in a Davos sprint.
This year, she was out on course, in the wax truck, and everywhere in between as Diggins scored her first World Cup win of the season in Gallivare, which Martell commented was “Epic! What a cool experience to work with the tech team, be out there testing as the only-women tech pair alongside Erin Moening, and see some amazing finishes. The post-race hug from Jessie is one to remember for sure!”
Martell then continued on with Team USA to Ostersund, where both days capped the building excitement around the American’s fast World Cup start. Saturday’s Classic sprint race yielded 4 Americans in Finals, 2 Women with Jessie Diggins and Rosie Brennan, and for the first time ever, 2 Men with Ben Ogden and JC Schoonmaker. Schoonmaker would go on to ski to 3rd place, the first American podium for this promising generation of US skiers. More success came Sunday, as Jessie Diggins scored her 2nd win of the season in a race that saw three American Women in the top 10. It was a weekend where both days were ended with the entirety of the American coaching staff flooding around the podium for a group shot, and there, after having tested skis, prepped athletes, and cheered them on whole-heartedly, was Annika Martell.
Her take on it all; Martell said to NNF that “I’m really grateful to have the support to be a Trail to Gold awardee for a second year. I was able to build upon my previous experience and deepen my learning in various areas of interest when it comes to coaching on the World Cup. Last year, I scratched the surface with a wide breadth of experiences and this time around, I was able to focus in on areas I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to focus on in my first World Cup experience.”
I was able to build upon my previous experience and deepen my learning in various areas when it comes to coaching on the World Cup.
World Cup Coverage from the US Ski Community
It’s been a busy few weeks in American skiing on the World Cup. Re-live wins, podiums, and personal bests with those that know it best; US skiers covering US skiing, at the sources below!