DRAMMEN, Norway (March 13) – Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) finished fifth in the women’s classic sprint, keeping up with the fast heat and crushing the brutal uphill finish. Justyna Kowalczyk from Poland took the top spot for women. Torin Koos (Wenatchee, WA/Bridger Ski Foundation) finished 18th, the top finisher for the USA, while Norwegian Petter Northug Jr. finished first for men.
I've done this Drammen classic sprint six times now. The first four times I did not manage to make it past the qualification. Last year was a breakthrough for me when I made it to the semi-finals. This is probably one of the deepest world cup fields during the whole season. Norway had 22 women starters today and all the continental cup leaders are here in addition to every nations sprint quota.
I was a little frustrated by my qualification, I felt like I could not make full use of my capacity and power. But thankfully I just snuck through to the quarterfinals in 29th position. I got another chance! In the quarterfinal I made a real push with 200m to go and went from 5th into the lead. The semi-final was more spread out but I also had a strong finish and managed to grab the last Lucky Loser spot into the final.
In the final I had a decent start but didn't ski the bottom half of the course smart enough nor aggressive enough. I left too much work to do and was only able to pass one skier before the finish line. I ended up 5th place. It's my best ever Drammen finish and certainly my best classic finish of the season. I was hoping to challenge for the podium once I got in the final today but I guess that is a goal I will just have to keep chasing.
The feelings today were really good and I feel like my full race gear is coming back. Classic sprints are always challenging for me to get the body, the technique and the skis just right. It was challenging today to keep the skis fast in the sugary snow. Our guys worked really hard and I think we had competitive skis in the rounds.
It was really fun to have a strong performance in a classic sprint and I am already looking forward to another chance one week from now in Stockholm.