Alaska’s Kikkan Randall had a memorable finish for her 100th World Cup start at the FIS Cross Country World Cup sprint in Lahti, Finland. Saturday’s race was full of intensity between World Champion Marit Bjoergen and Randall. However, it was Randall who stood on top and dominated all three heats. Randall took the title for the second consecutive time. After her sixth World Cup win of the season, Randall has a 488-280 lead over Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk with only two classical sprints remaining.
Kikkan Randall takes the FIS Cross Country World Cup sprint title! | Photo: Getty Images/AFP-Markku Ulander
Through the short and hard turns of the course of the final matchup, Finland’s Riikka Lilja-Sarasoja took an early lead before Bjoergen sped her way to the head of the pack on the primary hill while Randall stayed close behind. Just a few hundred meters to the finish, Randall squeezed her way through on a short hill to take the lead and the title.
Kikkan Randall commented on her amazing performance, “Today was my 100th World Cup start so I was really hoping to make it a special one. It turned out to be a great day. I felt strong and was able to make good tactical moves in all my heats. I was really psyched to be going up against Bjoergen in the final. She hadn’t raced any of the other skate sprints this season and it’s always fun to be able to go head to head with one of our sport’s greatest athletes.”
Randall continued, “I knew I wanted to be leading coming off the final turn as it’s really fast and short finish stretch. I could feel Marit coming up beside me in those final meters and knew I needed to be prepared for the lunge. Timed it just right today and am super happy to win the final skate sprint of the season. It’s a really good feeling to have locked up the overall World Cup sprint title today. When I was injured this fall I thought I might have to take the sprint title off my goals list. But then the season started so strong for me and it was great feeling to be back in the red bib again. I was really anxious to see if I could hold my shape all the way to the end of the season. Now, I can really enjoy the final two classic sprints in Drammen and Stockholm.”
Kikkan Randall stated, “The best part of winning these races is seeing the cheer and enthusiasm in the faces of our awesome staff and my teammates who are work so hard to help us be competitive. My skis were awesome today and it’s really cool to see what a well oiled machine we have become. It feels good to be contributing more Cross Country hardware to the awesome haul of awards that the USSA teams have been collecting this year!”
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