SAPPORO, Japan (Feb. 22) - Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) earned the
best U.S. sprint finish, men's or women's, at the Worlds or Olympic
Thursday night, finishing fifth in the1.4K classic technique sprint to
open the 2007 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.
Three other U.S. skiers - Torin Koos (Leavenworth, WA), Kikkan
Randall (Anchorage, AK) and Laura Valaas (Wenatchee, WA) - reached the
but none moved past the quarterfinals. The team event (with Newell and
Koos for the men, Randall and Valaas for the women) is the next cross
event - Friday, over the same loops but in freestyle technique. Live
timing is available at http://livetiming.usskiteam.com
beginning at 2
Norway swept both gold medals, Astrid Johansen winning the women's race
in a close finish with Slovenian Petra Majdic while Jens Arne Svartedal
the men's champion by a stride over Mats Larsson of Sweden.
Newell posted the fastest qualifying time for the men with Torin Koos
(Leavenworth, WA) 13th fastest after two disqualifications. Chris Cook
(Rhinelander, WI), starting to emerge from sickness, which kept him out
of the last World Cup a week ago in China, was 32nd, less than a
away from qualifying, while Lars Flora (also Anchorage) was 49th.
In the final, Newell couldn't get past a Scandinavian roadblock - two
Norwegians and two Swedes - despite jumping lanes several times in
harder snow conditions as the temperatures moved into the upper 30s.
Still, it was the highest U.S. result at Worlds or the Olympics since
sprints were added with the 2001 World Championships in Lahti, Finland.
Scandinavian roadblock nothing new
"I'm used to getting ganged-up on by the Swedes and Norwegians in the
final heat," Newell said, "so that wasn't new...or a big problem, but I
could've been there at the [finish] line with them. I was just a few
meters out, but...
"Part of it was the tracks were getting so skied in on the uphill and I
was just trying to find the best track, the one that wasn't as wet as
others...so I was changing tracks a lot. And it was pretty windy, so it
helped to tuck in behind someone sometimes," he said.
The course began inside the Sapporo Dome, which prior to the heats had
been the scene of Opening Ceremonies with 30,000 people filling the
through the qualifying round. After the opening 125 meters, the
athletes skied outside, up and over two small hills, and went back into
the Dome for
the last 250 meters.
In the sprint, the field skis the race loop for a time, and the top 30
finishers move into the quarterfinals, racing in five six-skier heats.
two automatically advance to the next round and the two fastest times
from among the other skiers are used to complete the semifinal field
more six-skier heats; again, the top two skiers in each heat advance
and the two fastest losing times fill the medal round.
"I was feeling good all day and definitely felt strong in the
qualifier, and felt I could ski the hills faster than anybody. My
tactics for the day
were to hang in on the hills and then have a fast final 200 meters."
In quarterfinals, Newell got out of the prepared track with about 250
meters left and finished with a flourish, one-tenth of a second ahead
Josef Wenzel. In semis, he was third - behind Svartedal and Larsson -
but his fast time pushed him into the final round.
On the women's side, Randall and Valaas qualified for finals, but
Randall missed a pole plant at the start of her quarterfinal heat and
up as she finished 22nd while Valaas lost ground on the final short
downhill and came in 24th overall.
Coach: "stoked" with first race
"It was disappointing," Randall said. "I just didn't plant my poles as
deeply as I needed to. It was a fast heat and I skied hard to get back
there [with the leaders]. I got close but couldn't catch 'em."
"It was a great effort, not just with Andy," said Head Coach Pete
Vordenberg. "Koos was in there and Chris was so close, but he's not 100
yet, so that made it even more impressive to get that close...and those
were good ladies' results, although we were looking for more."
Waxing as it can be in classic races, was not an issue, even with
temperatures in the mid to upper 30s outside. "It was humid inside the
with that crowd, but it wasn't a problem," he said. "This is one of the
coolest venues, just so creative...
"I'm stoked with this start. It was awesome - Andy [was] so near a
medal, and Laura moving right in there, into the top 30. She wasn't
all. It's a little strange, having someone fifth and saying 'We
could've done better.'
"The team sprint will be fun to watch," Vordenberg went on, "because
all four of 'em are ready to go. The girls left the Dome saying they
to race tonight as much as they wanted [because they were out after the
quarters] and Andy and Torin know they can be in there."
The next cross country title race is the two-man team sprint Friday,
with its tag-team format in freestyle technique. All teams ski a
round with the 10 fastest teams advancing to the medal round.
Photos from Sapporo are available at http://ussa.smugmug.com
Audio of Newell, Randall, Valaas and sprint Coach Chris Grover is available at www.ussamedia.com
2007 FIS NORDIC WORLD SKI CHAMPIONSHIPS
Sapporo, JPN - Feb. 22, 2007
Men's Classic Technique Sprint
(6 make medal round)
1. Jens Arne Svartedal, Norway
2. Mats Larsson, Sweden
3. Eldar Roenning, Norway
4. Bjoern Lind, Sweden
5. Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT
6. Emil Joensson, Sweden
22. Torin Koos, Leavenworth, WA
32. Chris Cook, Rhinelander, WI
49. Lars Flora, Anchorage, AK
Women's CL Sprint
1. Astrid Johansen, Norway
2. Petra Majdic, Slovenia
3. Virpi Kuitunen, Finland
4. Anna Dahlberg, Sweden
5. Madoka Natsumi, Japan
6. Lina Andersson, Sweden
22. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, AK
24. Laura Valaas, Wenatchee, WA
For complete results: