KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (Feb. 1) - Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) left no doubt, leading every stride of three heats to win the freestyle sprint Olympic test event at the Laura Cross Country Ski Center near Krasnaya Polyana outside Sochi. It was her third FIS Cross Country World Cup win of the season. Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT) had a career best sixth. Norway's Petter Northug won for the men. Five U.S. women cracked the top 17 in qualifying. The new Laura venue proved to be extremely challenging and saw race conditions with new snow and heavy fog throughout the afternoon race. Skiathlon is on tap for Saturday with a team sprint Sunday.
Kikkan Randall dominated the freestyle sprint at the Laura Cross Country Ski Center during Olympic test events near Sochi. (Getty Images/AFP)
- Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) led wire to wire in all three heats to win the freestyle sprint Olympic test event at the Laura Cross Country Ski Center.
- Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT) scored a career best sixth.
- It was Randall's third FIS Cross Country World Cup win of the season.
- The win boosted Randall's FIS World Cup sprint lead. She remained third in the overall.
- Five American women and two men qualified for the heats on a snowy, foggy day at the new venue up in the mountains northeast of Krasnaya Polyana, 45 minutes up from Sochi.
- Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) led the U.S. men in 13th.
- Action continues Saturday with a skiathon. Randall, who had been sick in bed much of the week, will skip the skiathlon but will be back for Sunday's team sprint.
Leading up to the finals, five U.S. Ski Team women and two men qualified for sprint heats on a foggy afternoon at the Laura Cross Country Ski Center above Krasnaya Polyana outside Sochi. Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) was second fastest to lead the U.S. women while Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) was sixth.
- Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) and Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) led seven U.S. Ski Team athletes in impressive sprint qualifying at the Laura Cross Country Ski Center near Krasnaya Polyana.
- It's the first major test for the Laura venue situated above the village of Krasnaya Polyana and across the valley from the Rosa Khutor alpine venue and ski jumping venue.
- Other U.S. qualifiers included Holly Brooks (Anchorage), Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN), Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT) and Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO).
Over the last couple of years I've been trying to build my confidence leading into this knowing that I could be versatile over different courses and different conditions. To show up here and think 'OK this is the course and test it out - I'm super happy that my ability to be strong over many courses works out well on this course as well. I made it through four strong rounds today and tried some different strategies out there. It's really good leading into next year.
It's really exciting to have success like this in Sochi at our first test event here. It's particularly telling of what our team can do in sustaining a beating in the relay two weeks ago in France. We didn't spin our wheels at all, we just got back up and focused for this event. I'm really proud of these girls. It's great to see Kikkan get a win and Ida have her first final event and to get five girls in the top 17 in qualifications. We flexed our muscles today and it was really exciting to watch.