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Randall Earns Best Worlds Pursuit Finish

FIS Nordic World Ski Championships

Sun, Feb  25, 2007 - By US Ski Team

SAPPORO, Japan (Feb. 25) - Russian Olga Savialova edged Czech Katerina Neumannova by a half-second Sunday in the women's 15K (7.5K CL+7.5K FR) pursuit at the 2007 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK) was 41st and Lindsey Weier (Mahtomedi, MN) 52nd.
 
Kikkan Randall powers to the finish in the women's pursuit (credit: Doug Haney/U.S. Ski Team)
 
Savialova's winning time was 41.27.5 with Neumannova taking the silver medal in 41:28.0. Kristin Stoermer Steira of Norway was third in 41:29.6.

Head Coach Pete Vordenberg was pleased with Randall's effort, noting sometimes it's not about the result but the experience gained for a young skier. In the 24-year-old Randall's case, she's looking to grow beyond her traditional strength in sprinting and her performance in the pursuit was one more step in that growth.

"This is someone who's been on the podium [third in a World Cup sprint in Russia last month] and to improve she needs to improve at [racing] distance and she's working on that. People who win these things with consistency, or are consistently on the podium, are in good control through the early rounds [of sprint heats] and don't have to stretch themselves. That means they're fit enough to ski through those," Vordenberg explained.

"Yeah, the sprint is a sprint because you have to go fast, but it's also a long day of racing and you need that distance experience, too."

The mass start race for 59 skiers, with 7.5 kilometers of classic technique skiing and then a 7.5K race in freestyle, was the first pursuit for Randall since she finished 54th in the 2003 World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy, when it was a 10K (5+5) format.

"First lap today I wasn't too concerned about being conservative. I just wanted to get in there and ski with people," she said. I had myself well into the top 30 and that was fun. From there, I just tried to experience the rest...

"I went into today not with any big goals. I just wanted to experience the race, and I certainly did. I had a great time in first lap just making moves on people. I passed 15 girls on that hairy downhill just because they were snowplowing. I took a smooth outside line and started whizzing past...

"I wanted to ski in the top 50," Randall said. "This is a big improvement on my 54th (from 2003).

"There was not a goal of being on the podium in this race. That's a totally unrealistic thing to achieve, but we're looking at 2010 - at the sprint, and this is good, in general. When she says she's having fun, that's not the same as going to the amusement park," Vordenberg said.

"Maybe only a cross country racer can understand, but it's some pain and definitely battling it out with other people...not a bowl of popcorn with friends or going to the movies. It's competing against someone else."

Weier, he noted, is still a student at Northern Michigan University "and she's still young. She has steps to take if she's going to contend, and she's starting to take them now."

The next women's cross country race is Tuesday, the 10K freestyle technique.

Multimedia:
Photos from Sapporo are available at http://ussa.smugmug.com.

Audio of Kikkan Randall from the pursuit is available at www.ussamedia.com.

2007 FIS NORDIC WORLD SKI CHAMPIONSHIPS
Shirahata
Sapporo, JPN - Feb. 25, 2007
Women's 15K (7.5K CL+75K FR) Pursuit
1, Olga Savialova, Russia, 41:27.5
2. Katerina Neumannova, Czech Republic, 41:28.0
3. Kristin Stoermer Steira, Norway, 41:29.6
4. Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, Germany, 41:32.1
5. Riitta Liisa Roponen, Finland, 41:51.5
-
41. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, AK, 45:07.6
52. Lindsey Weir, Mahtomedi, MN, 47:54.7

For complete results:
http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?cal_suchsector=CC&event_id=22246