FALUN, Sweden (March 21) - Italy's Dario Cologna bested the field Saturday in a 10K pursuit in Sweden. He skied the total 20K race in 54:59.5 seconds, nearly two seconds faster than second-place finisher Marcus Hellner of Sweden. German Tobias Angerer finished third, 2.4 seconds off the pace.
Torin Koos (Leavenworth, WA) finished 63rd in 59:03.4, turning in the 47th fastest classic portion and 74th fastest skate.
Finland's Riitta Liisa Roponen won the women's pursuit in 29:24.7. She came from 18th after the classic race to ski the third fastest 5k skate, winning over Norwegian Therese Johaug and World Cup leader Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland.
Warm conditions, about five degrees Celsius, made for a klister wax classic race and a mushy skate, U.S. Cross Country Coach Chris Grover said.
"Coming in here with three sprinters we knew our best day would be the first. Now that the sprints are over Kikkan [Randall; Anchorage], Torin and Andy [Newell; Shaftsbury, VT] are getting some good experience racing distance," Grover said.
Newell pulled out of the race because after a long, hard season he couldn't find that extra gear needed.
"He's been tired and today was the longest distance he's attempted. He's ready for vacation time. He had a good starting spot, but he was hurting right from the get go and didn't feel like he could dig deep," Grover reported.
He said Koos had a strong race and felt good, while Randall finished but with heavy legs from the grueling prologue Friday.
"She did a good job, but there was probably a little carry over from the "murder hill." In today's race there were a couple good classic climb, and they had to ski murder hill again in the skate portion," he said.
Both Randall and Koos will start in Sunday's respective 10K and 15K skate, which will start similar to a Gundersen event. Athletes will go off in order of their standings during the final World Cup series, so the first to cross the line will win the series and a hefty sum of cash.
"Kikkan and Torin aren't in a place to strike, but it's a good chance to do some distance. It really feels like spring here," Grover said.
2009 VIESSMANN CROSS COUNTRY FIS WORLD CUP
Falun, Sweden - March 21, 2009
1. Dario Cologna, Switzerland, 54:59.5
2. Marcus Hellner, Sweden, 55.01.2
3. Tobias Angerer, Germany, 55:01.9
4. Pietro Piller Cottrer, Italy, 55:02.2
5. Vincent Vittoz, France, 55:03.2
63. Torin Koos, Leavenworth, WA, 59:03.4
DNF: Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT
1. Riitta-Liisa Roponen, Finland, 29:24.7
2. Therese Johaug, Norway, 29:26.0
3. Justyna Kowalczyk, Poland, 29:28.9
4. Claudia Nystad, Germany, 29:39.9
5. Kristin Stoermer, Norway, 29:40.0
55. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, 32:10.9
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