Sprint pleases Newell
Vt. native places 6th in WC opener
Andy Newell is ready to go the distance.
Ranked fourth in World Cup cross-country sprint last season and holder of three World Cup career podium finishes, the two-time Olympian had a solid sixth-place finish last week in the 1.4-kilometer classic sprint in the single-digit temperatures of Arctic Finland.
“That was the World Cup opener for sprint racing, my No. 1 event,’’ the US Ski Team member said by phone from Finland. “It was a great way to start the season, but I didn’t make the podium.’’
The 2002 Stratton Mountain School graduate from Shaftsbury, Vt., is gearing up for this weekend’s competition on the man-made snow-covered streets and sidewalks of Dusseldorf, Germany, with a stretch along the Rhine. Newell, 27, excels in the sprint, in which athletes first ski a qualification round before going head-to-head in six-skier heats to advance to the finals. He also competes in relays and distance races, compiling lukewarm results this season.
During the pre-Thanksgiving World Cup opener in Gallivare, Sweden, Newell finished the 15-kilometer freestyle 87th in a race in which teammate Kris Freeman cracked the top 10. He also skied the first leg of the US team’s 17th-place finish in the four-person mixed technique relays.
The day after his strong showing in the Kuusamo sprint in a field of 125 racers, he ended up 89th in the classic 10K.
“I’m a better sprinter, but I compare it to being a track athlete,’’ he said. “That’s like saying you’re better at the 400, but you also have to compete in the 1,500 and 3,000.’’
Though Newell wants more sprint podiums and a World Championship medal, he also has an eye on the 2014 Olympics and becoming a better distance racer.
“This is a transitional year for me,’’ he said. “I’m working on getting better at distance races. Being in 80th place or in the top 30 is a slim margin. Often times 10 seconds can pick you up 15 or 20 spots.’’
Newell expects to spend most of the winter racing in Europe and then split his time between Vermont and Park City, Utah.
Happy days About 3 1/2 hours from Boston, Vermont’s Bolton Valley continues its $15 Happy Holiday lift tickets just before Christmas, Dec. 20-24. Nordic tickets are $5 then. One can turn it into an overnight with ski and stay packages beginning at $55 per person during that period . . . Pay $30 for a Mt. Sunapee lift ticket by donating five non-perishable food items during Cares and Shares Day Dec. 12 . . . The first 75 people to e-mail email@example.com with “Ski Free’’ in the subject line can get a free learn to ski or snowboard package Dec. 18 or 19 at Maine’s Shawnee Peak . . . First-time skiers and snowboarders age 7 and up can register for free group lessons, rentals, and a lower mountain lift ticket at Okemo through Dec. 24. About 1,500 people take part in the free program annually at the Ludlow, Vt,. resort. Reservations are suggested by calling 802-228-1600 . . . Killington has a pair of limited free Learn to Ski and Snowboard Days for those 16 and older on Dec. 10 and 19. Reservations are required . . . Two-time Olympic medalist and now Stratton Mountain School snowboarding program director Ross Powers is holding the southern Vermont resort’s first Ross Powers Boardercross Camp Dec. 22-23. Coaches include ex-World Cup rider Ben Jacobellis and SMS competition team coach Raschid Joyce. Ben’s younger sister, Lindsey Jacobellis, could make an appearance . . . Purchase the $39 Express Card on opening day (Dec. 17) at Pico and ski free that day . . . The new mountain coaster at Attitash, with its 15 turns, opened last Saturday . . . Beginning Dec. 18, Crotched is bringing back its $29 rail sessions in the Zero-G Park every other Saturday from Dec.-Feb. and daily Dec. 28-30 . . . Ten ski films are planned for Mount Snow’s first Film Festival Dec. 3-4 in three locations near the resort . . . Sunday River filled its quota of 250 skiing and snowboarding Santas just 12 minutes after online registration opened. The costumed brigade gets to ski free Dec. 5.
Option plays Flexibility is the new watchword when purchasing season-ticket packages. At skinh.com, you can mix and match six or more lift tickets at various mountains for an average savings of $10-$16 off peak rates. The individual tickets within each package are transferable . . . Bretton Woods, Cranmore, and Waterville Valley have teamed up for this year’s edition of the Threedom Pass . . . The Gold New England pass gives access at Loon, Sunday River, and Sugarloaf . . . The $399 Triple Major College pass is a sweet deal for undergraduate and graduate students in northeastern Vermont, with unrestricted access to Mad River Glen, Jay Peak, and Bolton Valley . . . Killington has an early-season online deal in which one has to sign up in advance electronically, and a voucher will be mailed entitling one to a 2-for-1 ticket that can be brought to the window before Dec. 24 . . . The