Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) led the U.S. Ski Team in Canmore Thursday after clinching the sixth spot at the FIS World Cup 10k classic mass start. Randall fought in a ruthless battle with the pack, but finished behind a commanding win by Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk. Randall attained a career best classic distance finish and landed herself the third spot in the FIS Cross Country World Cup overall standings and fifth in distance. Kris Freeman (Andover, N.H.) finished 14th in the men’s 15k behind the winner, German Tom Tscharnke.
Randall commented on her performance saying, “It was a good hard effort and that was my number one goal for today. I definitely had to dig deep there at the end and I didn't play my cards right in the finish but overall I'm happy with the race.” Randall was unable to catch Kowalczyk, who had a 14 second win over Finland’s Anne Kylloenen.
“We knew Kowalczyk
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was going to set a hard pace at the beginning and then the Norwegians kind of went with her. I just tried to make sure to start the race at my own pace knowing that things would come back together in the middle hopefully. I'm really glad I did that because I even felt a little flooded on the first lap but then felt a lot better on the second and third laps,” stated Randall.
Randall is excited about her standing so far, as she exclaimed, “I'm really happy with the effort. The season started out stronger than I thought and I'm really enjoying being considered one of the top distance skiers now. I still have to remember that I'm making small increments. It was really fun starting bib number one today and I wanted to go out and ski with what I had and know that winning could have been a possibility. I'm happy with the race. It was right in line with where I think I am right now.”
Thursday’s races were a neck-and-neck battle across the board as U.S. Ski Team member, Kris Freeman, also said, “It's a solid race. I would have loved to have been able to hang with the leaders but the last little bit wasn't there – I got loaded up.”
Look out for the U.S. Ski Team on Saturday as the action continues with the individual sprint racing that will be broadcast live on the USSA Network starting at 2:30 p.m. EST at www.usskiteam.com.