Author of Story: Peter Graves
The USA put both its men’s and women’s teams into the finals of the classic technique team sprint Wednesday at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Oslo. While finishing outside the medals, it was a big step for the underdog Americans to make the finals field. Canada took gold for men while Sweden won the women’s sprint.
The U.S. women’s team of Kikkan Randall and Sadie Bjornsen qualified third in their heat then skied to a ninth place result in the 1.3k relay of six laps at foggy Hollemkollen. They stayed close through much of the race before trailing off towards the finish.
In a final lap burst of energy by Charlotte Kalla, Sweden took the gold medal for the women with Ida Ingemarsdotter joining Kalla in 19:25.0 for the victory. The Finnish team of Aino Kaisa Saarinen and Krista Lahteenmaki were second, 3.3 seconds behind. With Norwegian standout Marit Bjoergen taking a day off after winning all three gold medals, her teammates Maiken Caspersen Falla and Astrid Jacobsen joined together for third, 4.1 seconds back.
The American women approached the event with open minds. Unlike a week earlier when Randall was actually favored in the freestyle sprint, the Americans had no expectations in a classic technique event.
“I went into it with an attitude of anything can happen and I’d be happy,” said Bjornsen, who got the nod to join Randall after strong performances in the skate sprint a week earlier and Monday’s 10k classic technique race. “I’ve only done one team sprint before so it was more exciting than having any expectations.”
“We had nothing to lose,” said Randall. “We just wanted to get in there and hang as long as we could and make it exciting. I think we skied well. This is a team that could be getting stronger and stronger over the next couple of years. It was fun having Sadie as my partner – she has been skiing so well at these Championships.”
In the men’s race, Canada took a historic first-ever World Championship gold with the team of Devon Kerhsaw and Alex Harvey in 19:10.0, who were jubilant at the finish line. The Canadians won a nail-bitter of a six lap race on a hilly 1.5k course with a narrow margin over Norway with Russia taking bronze.
The USA duo of Torin Koos (Wenatchee, WA) and Andy Newell led several times during the race and were only 4.2 seconds out of the lead on the fourth of six exchanges. They had made the finals based on time in the qualifier, finishing fifth but grabbing one of four lucky loser spots.
“This isn’t a race we get to do much and it’s a tough course with no recovery,” said Koos. “And in this type of snow, you have to do a lot of work the whole time. There are some tough boys in this cross country ski race.”
“I wish we could have had a better show but the finals are where we should be, no problem,” said Newell. “The final was hard for me. I was really struggling before we started. I had pushed really hard in the semifinal and I had a hard time recovering.”
World Championship cross country action continues Thursday with the women’s 4x5k relay.
Gold: Canada (Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey),19:10.0
Silver: Norway (Petter Northug, Ola Vigen Hattestad), +0.2
Bronze: Russia (Alexander Panzhinskiy, Nikita Kriukov), +0.5
10. USA (Andy Newell, Torin Koos), +51.6
Gold: Sweden (Ida Ingemarsdotter, Charlotte Kalla), 19:25.0
Silver: Finland (Aino Kaisa Saarinen, Krista Lahteenmaki), +3.3
Bronze: Norway (Maiken Caspersen Falla, Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen), +4.1
9. USA (Kikkan Randall, Sadie Bjornsen), +56.5
For complete results: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?cal_suchsector=CC&event_id=28397