DRAMMEN, Norway (March 7) - Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) put the exclamation mark on a day of historic benchmarks for the U.S. Ski Team, clinching the FIS Cross Country World Cup sprint title while finishing 11th in a classic sprint in Drammen. Randall now has an insurmountable lead going into the season sprint finale next week in Stockholm. It's the first U.S. World Cup title since Bill Koch won the overall in 1982. Teammate Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) qualified 16th and finished 27th for her first career World Cup points. Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) was sixth for the men with Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) a career best seventh. The tour now heads to nearby Oslo for the Holmenkollen Ski Festival.
The sprint overall World Cup was my goal and focus all season. It's been a long season, a lot of racing and it's been an exciting competition to the end. But I am happy to finally secure it now. We have had an incredible team this year - coaches, staff and athletes during the entire season - and it's definitively a team effort to win the globe.
This year I raced more races and was more consistently in the top 10. It took some victories as well as scoring points in every race. It's definitely more grueling chasing all the races and racing all the heats in addition to all the distance races, but it was worth it!
I really wanted to bring my classic sprinting up to the same level as my skate sprinting so I put some more emphasis in my training on double-poling and classic specific intervals. But I think just the general increase in my capacity and fitness this year is also really helping me.
Today I was hoping to make it to the final. My finish is really strong at the moment and I had a good feeling today. I was excited to go to the final but unfortunately I had some bad luck and broke my binding. It wasn't the end result I wanted but I’m still happy.
I’m looking forward to the upcoming races. This is the time of the year when the training is done and now it's time to use what is left in the tank. My plan is to race all the remaining World Cup events and I'm actually going to stay in Scandinavia an extra week and do some fun invitational sprints before I head over to Vermont for the last U.S. races.
It's been really important to have a great team around me this season. Spending the whole winter in Europe, away from home has been challenging at times. But the girls have helped me keep it fun and positive and it's been great to be able to celebrate some of their achievements as well. I also have to credit the guys on our team and, of course, our staff. Everybody has worked incredibly hard and been upbeat through all the highs and lows. My team is my family on the road.
Chris Grover, Cross Country Head Coach
It was a great day for us. To have three athletes in the top 11 in any World Cup, let alone a sprint as tough as Drammen, was very gratifying.
Kikkan looked incredible today. She appeared to be on her way to the final when she got tangled up and broke her binding. The fact that she has won the sprint Globe has not quite sunk in yet.
We had great skis all day. It was challenging to find a wax with great kick and glide. The snow was quite saturated and new snow mixed with rain was a falling all day. Newell decided to double pole the qualifier since classic skiing didn't feel fast enough at first, but he switched to classic gear for the rounds. Everyone else skied on classic gear all day.
Drammen has been a great city sprint for Andy. He really knows how to make moves in the right places in order to pass other skiers. He knows when to relax and when to make a move happen. He was on the podium last time we raced the city sprint in Drammen (2010) so he knows how to get to the final.
It was clearly a breakthrough day for Simi. His best classic sprint result yet. He had a rough start to the year with illness and a lot of near misses in sprint qualification, so it feels really good to see him coming into form now. He was very close to being at lucky loser and going through to the final. He has all of the right skills to be a start in the sport.
Also a breakthrough day for Sadie. Really cool to finally see her in the points. Of course she had some bad luck getting tangled up in her quarterfinal, but she skied really well for her first ever Drammen city sprint, a course that normally takes a year or two to figure out how to qualify at. Sadie is classic skiing so well right now. We are excited to see what she can do at Holmenkollen on Sunday.
We had five different women score World Cup sprint points this season. Last year we had one. We are so proud of all of these athletes for their tenacity and hard work. It is really paying off right now.