Randall Wins to Take Cross Country World Cup Lead

LIBEREC, Czech Republic (Jan. 15)- The U.S. Ski Team’s Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) skied to an impressive victory Saturday in the free technique sprints for a second career World Cup win, taking over the World Cup sprint lead. It was her third World Cup podium of the season.

On the same venue where she won silver at the 2009 World Championships, Randall dominated both the semis and final heats with savvy skiing and the two fastest times of the day. Her last win came in December of 2007 in Rybinsk, Russia.

“It was a tough race, as always, but I felt I skied well tactically and it just feels great,” said Randall. “This is some amazing validation that we are doing things right. It’s paying off. 10 years ago we didn’t always expect these kind of results, now we have built up a strong program and it will happen more often.”

After qualifying third, Randall went up against both 2009 champion Arianna Follis of Italy and Petra Majdic of Slovenia in the quarterfinals. Majdic took the win with Randall beating out Follis to make the semis. In the semis,

In her semifinal heat, Randall took on Majdic for a six-tenths-of-a-second victory with a heat time a full three seconds faster than the other semi. Randall was also able to take advantage of the fact that ski queen of Norway, Marit Bjoergen, got knocked out of the semis.

In the finals, Randall dominated again setting another blistering pace. She edged out Hanna Falk of Sweden and Celine Brun-Lie of Norway for the win.

Randall said knowing the course was a big plus. “I’ve done well here before, and knowing the course – its twists and turns – was a huge help,” she said. “I am now very confident that I have a good plan in place to get ready for the World Championships.”

American sprinter Andy Newell (Shaftsbury,VT) was 13th overall in a race that saw last year’s winner Norwegian Ola Vigen Hattestad claim the victory for a second year. Italy’s newcomer continued to show his talent potential as Federico Pellegrino was second while Duzan Kozisek of Croatiawas third.

The racers were challenged not only by each other but also battling rain – heavy at times – that affected the course. Organizers kept salting the track which helps maintain the firmness of the bed. Conditions were the best of the day for the finals.

Randall’s win was a welcome end to a trip that began with the opening World Cups in November and has produced benchmark results nearly every weekend. It was Randall’s third podium of the season. Newell and Randall will return to the states Sunday for approximately three weeks of training and recovery. They have been in Europe for over two months.

“Boy, talk about ending this on a high note,” Head US Coach Chris Grover smiled, “Kikkan skied smart and relaxed and was smiling and waving for the TV cameras when being introduced at the start. She seems just unstoppable now.”

Grover said Randall knows the Liverec course well and especially where not to get pinched on the turns. She has been a dominant figure in sprinting this season. In four World Cup sprints she has placed no worse than fifth.

Randall plans to return to Norway a few days prior to the FIS World Nordic Championships in Oslo, to take part in a World Cup sprint event in Drammen, Norway.

Jan. 15, 2011 –
Liberec, Czech Republic
Individual  Free Technique Sprints

Men’s 1.6k Sprint

1. Ola Vigen Hattestad, Norway
2. Federico Pellegrino, Italy
3. Dusan Kozisek, Czech Republic
4. Renato Pasini, Italy
5. Matias Strandvall, Finland

13.   Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT

Women’s 1.3k Sprint
1. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage
2. Hanna Falk, Sweden
3. Celine Brun-Lie, Norway
4. Petra Majdic, Slovenia
5. Caspersen Falla, Norway