DUSSELDORF, Germany (Dec. 21) - Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) and Torin Koos (Leavenworth, WA) laid to rest a string of bad luck and sprinted to fourth place in the men's freestyle team sprint in Dusseldorf, Sunday. The finish is the best performance by an American sprint team on the World Cup.
"They were due this and today our bad luck with the crashes turned around. It was a great way to end the first phase of races so far this season," Cross Country Sprint Head Coach Chris Grover said.
In Davos, Newell crashed out of the individual quarterfinals and Koos failed to qualify. During Saturday's race along the Rhein, Newell was spun around in the semi-finals and eliminated despite winning his quarterfinal heat. Koos just missed qualifying. Sunday's result bettered the pair's performance in the team sprint last year at Dusseldorf when they came in ninth.
In the team sprint format, the field is divided in two and the top three teams advance, plus two "lucky losers," who qualify based on time. Newell and Koos made it to the finals after nabbing the lucky loser spot in the semis.
"Torin fell in the second exchange of the semis, but Andy was able to ski them back up in his leg. They weren't automatic but they had a fast enough time to advance," Grover said.
The finals were a chaotic blaze of action. Grover said there were several big crashes, a product of the fatigued athletes pushing themselves beyond the limits.
"Andy went off course in a crash but he was up out of it first. From there he skied well and had a good tag," Grover said.
Then Koos took his lap and Newell's final lap was what sealed fourth place for the Americans.
"They skied really well. It's the best finish for us in this event by far," Grover said. "Andy was on the losing end of some crashes earlier and today he was on the winning end."
Next, the Americans head home for a break over the holidays.
Newell and Koos will opt out of the 2009 ColocoPhillips U.S. Cross Country Nationals in order to prepare for the next phase of World Cups, which begin with an individual and team sprint in Vancouver at the Whistler Olympic Park, where the Olympics will be held in 2010.
"We really want to focus on the pre-Olympic World Cups," Grover said.
Experience on the course, he said, is very important for the tactical component of sprinting.
The Vancouver World Cups take place Jan. 16-18 and include men's and women's individual and team sprints along with a 15K and 30K pursuit.
2009 VIESSMANN CROSS COUNTRY FIS WORLD CUP
Dusseldorf, Germany - Dec. 21, 2008
Men's Team Freestyle Sprint
1. Norway, Tor Arne Hetland, Ola Vigen Hattestad,17:37.0
2. Sweden, Bjoern Lind, Thobias Fredriksson,17.37.0
3. Russia, Alexei Petukhov, Nikolay Morilov,17.37.7
4. USA, Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT), Torin Koos (Leavenworth, WA), 17.41.1
5. Italy, David Hofer, Fabio Pasini,17.41.4
Women's Team Freestyle Sprint
1. Russia, Natalia Korosteleva, Natalia Matveeva 9:35.5
2. Norway, Celine Brun-Lie, Maiken Caspersen Falla 9:35.7
3. Germany, Stefanie Boehler, Claudia Nystad 9:37.3
4. Sweden, Britta Norgren, Ingrid Vikman 9:44.9
5. Finland, Kirsi Peraelae, Riikka Sarasoja 9:46.6
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For complete results click here.