LAHTI, Finland (March 1) - The U.S. Ski Team's Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) captured the second podium of his career Saturday, finishing second as both he and Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) made finals in a cross country World Cup. Randall finished fifth in the 1.2K sprint of the Lahti Ski Games.
It was Newell's best World Cup finish since he was third in a World Cup sprint in China in 2006.
"Today, to be first by nearly two seconds in qualification and then to go on and have his best World Cup finish was really gratifying," said Sprint Head Coach Chris Grover. "It's Andy's best sprint ever."
"It was awesome today to be able to get second. That's my best World Cup finish in my career so far so I can't complain," Newell said. "In the back of my head I knew I had what it took to get on the podium." Newell Draws Inspiration for Race
Newell was inspired by several recent events that helped him reach the podium Saturday.
"I kept thinking about a few things. One was the fact that I had a bad race last weekend and I wanted to prove to myself that I could get on the podium again. Second, I was inspired by our girls' results at the U23's yesterday with Liz Stephen on the podium," Newell said. "Third, I was thinking about Paul Robbins coming into the final. I wanted to win and dedicate it to Paul because he's been such a good friend to us and to the U.S. Ski Team. Those three things were keeping me motivated today."
Sprint finals include the top 30 skiers, men and women, from qualifying rounds matched in six-skier heats. The top two skiers in each heat move on as well as the two "lucky losers," the fastest two sprint times across each round not in the top two in his or her heat.
After qualifications, Newell won his quarter-final heat in a three-way photo finish with Oli-Pekka Tolvanen of Finland and Michail Devjatiarov of Russia. In the semi-finals, He was second in another photo finish with Norway's Anders Gloersen, putting him into the six-skier finals for the second time this year. Gloersen went on to win by a margin of .4 over Newell in the finals with Norway's Ola Vigen Hattestad third. Randall Makes It Through to Final
After having the 15th fastest time in qualifications, Randall won her quarter-final heat, also in a photo finish over Norway's Marit Bjoergenwas. Randall was the "lucky loser” in her semi-final heat to make the final. She was headed for a second place podium when she got caught up with other skiers 100 meters from the finish.
"Kikkan looked great. She had a little bit of trouble in her final round," Grover said. "She was coming into the finish in second place but she got tangled with a couple other skiers right at the top and she lost a lot of momentum. That knocked her back to fifth place."
The cross country team continues competition in Lahti on Sunday with a men's 15K and women's 10K before moving on to Drammen, Norway for sprints on Wednesday.
"I'm looking to Drammen next week as being the hardest sprint of the year because of the Norwegians," added Newell. "It's a big goal for me next week to make the finals and prove to the world that I can double pole.
"I think the level of sprinting on the World Cup is so high and there are so many top sprinters that not all can make the top 30. The level of competition seems to be building each year. It's tough competition, especially in the classic sprints."
The Drammen World Cup Wednesday leads up to the biggest event in nordic skiing, the Holmenkollen Ski Festival outside Oslo on March 8. OFFICIAL RESULTS
2008 VIESSMANN FIS WORLD CUP CROSS COUNTRY
Lahti Ski Games
Lahti, FIN - March 1, 2008
Freestyle Sprints Men's 1.4K
1. Anders Gloersen, Norway
2. Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT
3. Ola Vigen Hattestad, Norway
4. Bjoern Lind, Sweden
5. Devon Kershaw, Canada
63. Garrott Kuzzy, Hayward, WI
65. Torin Koos, Leavenworth, WA
72. Chris Cook, Rhinelander, WI
78. Leif Zimmermann, Bozeman, MT Women's 1.2K
1. Chandra Crawford, Canada
2. Natalia Matveeva, Russia
3. Evi Sachenbacher Stehle, Germany
4. Petra Majdic, Slovenia
5. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage
60. Laura Valaas, Wentachee, WA
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For complete results click here