Japan (Feb. 24) - Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK) will bring her
pink-dyed hair to the women's 15K pursuit (7.5K CL+7.5K FR) Saturday
and Lindsey Weier (Mahtomedi, MN), her teammate on the 2002 and '06
Olympic Team, will make her first start of the 2007 FIS Nordic World
Head Coach Pete Vordenberg said Caitlin
Compton (Minneapolis) had been penciled-in as a potential starter for
the mass start, but she's "trying to hold off a cold and she's got a
couple of races next week," so she was scratched from the lineup.
Randall, 24 and the first U.S. woman to step onto a World Cup podium
when she finished third in a freestyle sprint last month in Rybinsk,
Russia, is better known for her sprinting. However, Vordenberg said,
"This will be a bit of a stretch for her, but as she looks to get
beyond just sprinting, this is a good start. She's very competitive and
the mass start should give her a boost right away. Kikkan's got one
game plan: go as fast as you can for as long as you can."
Weier, 22, is a student at Northern Michigan University. She won the 5K
classic technique title last month at the U.S. championships at
Michigan Tech in Houghton, MI.
Randall was pleased to see photos from a couple of junior racers in
Alaska, who followed through on a bet. The bet: if she reached a World
Cup podium, they would dye their hair pink like she's done during parts
of the last couple of seasons.
Randall completed her part of the bargain with that top-3 finish Jan.
21 in Rybinsk and the photos confirmed the juniors fulfilled their part
of the deal, despite some speed bumps in the bleaching process...and
despite strange looks at school. "I'm tired of explaining to people why
I did it," junior skier Don Haerring wrote to Randall in an e-mail with
the photos, "but the reactions I get make it all worth it."
Haerring said there also has been a second proposal - if Randall hits
another World Cup podium, her fans should shave their heads. "I don't
see it happening," he said.
Former sprint world champion Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO)
says his left shoulder is feeling better and he'll take part Sunday in
the nordic combined team event at Worlds.
The other members of the U.S. foursome: Bill Demong (Vermontville, NY),
Eric Camerota (Park City, UT) and international rookie Bryan Fletcher
(also Steamboat). Each skier jumps twice and then skis a 5K loop in
relay fashion with team race starts determined by the jumping results.
"We checked with Johnny and the doc [Dr. Jon Finoff] and the PT [physio
Scott Blair], and we were going back and forth. So, to make sure, we
went out and skied today with Johnny to do some testing," Head Coach
Lasse Ottesen said. "It's not 100 percent, but he's 90 percent and he
told me, 'I can do it. I did it last year before the surgery [last
spring] and it hurt more than now. It's gonna hurt a little, but I can
do it.' So, he'll compete."
How did the combined team prep for the team event? By watching a couple
of episodes of NBC's popular comedy, "The Office," which Johnny
Spillane downloaded from the Internet.
"We do it every Friday or Saturday night," Coach Lasse Ottesen
explained. "When new episodes are posted online, Johnny gets 'em and we
all watch...staff and athletes, too. It's a fun show, it's good for
team dynamics...and it's an easy way to spend the night."--
junior Don Haerring and a fellow skier dyed their hair red in honor of
Kikkan Randall's sprint podium finish a few weeks ago.