OTEPAA, Estonia (Jan. 18, 2015) – Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT) and Rosie Brennan (Park City, UT) skied to a sixth place in today’s World Cup freestyle team sprint. Brennan, fresh from two wins in both the classic and freestyle sprints at the U.S. Cross Country Championships was teamed with Sargent without much warning after Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK) left the World Cup to recover from fatigue.
“This was only my second team sprint in my life and the last one was about six years ago so I certainly didn't have expectations,” Brennan explained. “I didn't even expect to be racing so I tried to make the most of the opportunity.”
Brennan and Sargent qualified out of the second of two semi-final heats that included teammates, Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT) and Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA), who were slowed after an early crash in the opening two hundred meters. Brennan sprinted past Sophie for a position in the final. Furthermore, of the two semifinal heats, conditions slowed considerably for the second allowing for very few qualifiers from that particular heat.
Ida Sargent, shown racing at the Sochi Olympic Games, teamed with Rosie Brennan to finish sixth at the Otepää World Cup freestyle feam sprint. (Getty Images/Harry How)
“The slowing conditions today made it very hard for teams to qualify out of the second semi-final for both men and women, and that Sophie and Sadie missed by a little over a tenth of a second indicates that they were skiing well and are ready for a great skate sprint on Saturday in Russia,” explained coach Matt Whitcomb.
Conditions in Otepää throughout the day soft and slushy.
“Far from my best,” admitted Brennan. Sargent, who missed qualifying in yesterday’s classic sprint took the team out strongly in the first two laps. The U.S. duo were as high as fourth place before ultimately slipping to seventh in the last laps of the six lap event. The men’s team of Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) and Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) was similarly affected by conditions when Hamilton vying for a strong finish with Swedish sprint star Emil Joennsson was taken down by a crash in the final descent caused by Baptist Gros of France. World Cup racing continues next weekend with a freestyle sprint in Rybinsk, Russia.
I am very happy with the day! This was only my second team sprint of my life and the last one was about 6 years ago so I certainly didn't have expectations. In fact, I didn't even expect to be racing. It wasn't until Kikkan decided not to come that I got a spot so I tried to make the most of the opportunity.
It was really slushy and there were some deep trenches out there. Those are far from my best conditions, but I thought I did a good job hanging in there anyway and trying to make the most of it. I am happy with the way I skied and thought we both did a good job of hanging in there and reading the race.
It was a great day. I think team sprints are one of the hardest races but most exciting races. I was really impressed with Rosie today as she jumped into her first team sprint in six years and killed it. My strategy for team sprints is always to stay relaxed and conservative for the first two laps and then go for it on the last lap so that's what I did today and I felt really good.
I had a lot of excitement and frustration built up after falling in the qualifier yesterday so I was psyched for another race today. At the beginning of the semifinal I felt like I was stuck in traffic and had trouble moving up but I was happy to stay on my feet for once and had some gaps open on the last lap and tried to go for it then and tag Rosie in the best place I could and she skied the last leg really well with an awesome finish to secure a spot in the final.
Then in the final I felt really good, better than I was expecting and it was just fun to be in the mix the whole time.
We had awesome skis today that felt really fast in every heat!
Today our day was saved by the team of Ida Sargent and Rosie Brennan who represented the team with a 6th-place finish. While both athletes are capable of world-class skiing like this, Rosie's recent arrival to Europe directly from a frigid U.S. Championships did make it unexpected. To be in Europe for only a few days and to post a result like that is outstanding. The cards were stacked against her and she just knocked them out of the way. Rosie can have a great weekend in Russia, and I look forward to everything the rest of the season holds for her.
Both Brennan and Sargent made key tactical moves on several occasions in both the semis and finals to move up through the field, and we are proud of what they accomplished today.
The Bjornsen /Caldwell team was bogged down by a crash by Sadie in the first 200 meters of the race. Sadie did a remarkable job maintaining composure after the crash and closed the gap quickly, while Sophie posted the fastest lap of the second leg to close the gap completely. That put them back in the race, but at a high physical cost. Even still, Sadie skied the fastest fifth lap. The slowing conditions today made it very hard for teams to qualify out of the second semi-final for both men and women, and that Sophie and Sadie missed by a little over a tenth of a second indicates that they were skiing well and are ready for a great skate sprint on Saturday in Russia.
The team of Andy and Simi looked to be cruising their way into the finals when Baptiste Gros crashed on the final descent into the stadium, taking out both Joensson and Simi with him.
Erik Bjornsen and Matt Gelso skied very well today. Erik posted the fastest time on the fifth lap, but their time was not fast enough for lucky loser.