Dusseldorf, Germany – The U.S. Ski Team’s Kikkan Randall skied a brilliant final in the freestyle sprint in downtown Dusseldorf on Saturday, making a critical pass in the homestretch to win her fourth career FIS World Cup sprint.
Qualifying 10th, Randall, of Anchorage, Alaska, was second in her quarter-final heat and dominated her semi-final. She had to fight her way back after a slow start, but showed great strength through to the finish line for the victory.
In the championship round, Randall had a slow start and had to take some risks skating through the pack to settle in behind Russian Natalia Matveeva. Randall was clearly the stronger skier as she made her move in the final hundred meters. The win boosted Randall into fifth in the FIS World Cup overall and first in the sprint standings.
“In the final, I didn’t get off to a very good start and had to fight my way up. Chandra Crawford and I exchanged contact a little bit and so I backed off and let her in front around the first corner. I went for an opening through the middle of Crawford and Matveeva coming into Mt. Dusseldorf and made it up into second,” explained Randall. ” Coming off the final turn I just put my head down and skated with all I had. I was a little off balance but was able to carry good speed in the free skate technique and came up beside Matveeva. I was carrying so much speed, it was crazy!
“There was a lot of moving around out there today. I was glad I had a little left in my legs at the end. It was so loud out there I couldn’t even hear myself breathing hard. It was really fun here today,” she added. “The course was fast and furious out there. Conditions were pretty warm and rainy early in the day which made the snow really fast and almost icy in places. It was tough to balance!”
“Another great skate sprint for Kikkan. She has actually won the last three World Cup skate sprints that she has entered (Liberec, Drammen, and Dusseldorf). She was so determined out there,” said Chris Grover, U.S. Ski Team Cross Country Head Coach. “Dusseldorf is such a short sprint for women (circa 900 meters and 1:45) that you can’t afford to be in the back in your heat. She did not exactly have the start that she wanted in the finals and she absolutely fought her way up to second place by the back side of the course (coming off of ‘Mt. Dusseldorf’) and eventually to the win in the finish stretch.”
Ola Viga Hattestad of Norway won the men’s sprint while American Andy Newell, of Shaftsbury, Vt., was 16th after missing out on moving on from the first heat by only one-tenth after breaking a pole.
“Andy had a bit of a rough day breaking a pole in the quarterfinals, getting a new pole from our staff, fighting his way back up to second place on the second lap, but getting out-lunged at the finish line by Norwegian Thomas Northug,” said Grover. “I believe his form is really coming though and expect better things from him next weekend in Davos.”
FIS Cross Country Ski World Cup
Dusseldorf, Germany – Dec. 3, 2011
|3||8||VAN DER GRAAFF Laurien||1987||SUI|
|8||13||FALLA Maiken Caspersen||1990||NOR|
|10||19||OESTBERG Ingvild Flugstad||1990||NOR|
|1||11||HATTESTAD Ola Vigen||1982||NOR|