FALUN, Sweden (March 22) - Dario Cologna of Italy and Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland finished atop the podium after the final freestyle race of the cross country season Sunday in Sweden. The pursuit race placed athletes in a start order according to their standings from the past three days of competitions with the first person to cross the finish line getting the prize.
Cologna and Kowalczyk also walked away with the World Cup overall titles. Cologna's win put him 1,344 points ahead of Norwegian Petter Northug who tallied 1,217. On the women's side, Kowalczyk took the overall with 1,810 points over sprinter Petra Majdic of Slovenia with 1,730.
Skiers with the fastest raw time in Sunday's races were Russia's Sergey Shiriaev, who skied the 15k in 35:23.0, and Kristin Stoermer Steira of Norway, skiing the women's 10k in 28:13.3.
U.S. Skiers Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) and Torin Koos (Leavenworth, WA) finished the World Cup Finals in 55th and 75th overall. Randall finished the skate race 46th fastest, while Koos was last among the men's field in 80th.
Though he did not race in the final event, Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) ended up 15th in the season's final sprint standings. Koos was 24th. Randall finished 28th in the women's field.
"It was a close to a good season," U.S. Cross Country Head Coach Pete Vordenberg said as he and other coaches packed up the wax room in Falun. "Each of them did as well as they could do today, but in distance we feel our weaknesses and we have a lot to work on."
Vordenberg said the Team would begin training on snow, on foot and on roller skis, almost immediately to build their endurance.
"We have a task ahead of us and we'll be starting right away," he said.
Even though many of the field's sprint racers finish near the back in distance races Vordenberg said there is a connection between finishing inside the top 30 of a distance race and having the endurance to make it into the sprint finals on a regular basis.
"Kikkan has been in the top 30 in distance and she's also our best sprinter and World Championship medalist. That's no coincidence. She's a little bit more of the full package," Vordenberg said.
Next, the U.S. athletes will head to Fairbanks, Alaska for distance nationals March 24-29.
2009 VIESSMANN CROSS COUNTRY FIS WORLD CUP
Falun, Sweden - March 21, 2009
15K/10K Free Pursuit
1. Dario Cologna, Switzerland, 35:57.2
2. Vincent Vittoz, France, 36:38.5
3. Alexander Legkov, Russia, 37:02.6
4. Petter Northug, Norway, 37:07.7
5. Jean Marc Gaillard, France, 37:08.2
75. Torin Koos, Leavenworth, WA, 45:07.1
1. Justyna Kowalczyk, Poland, 27:48.6
2. Therese Johaug, Norway, 28.08.6
3. Charlotte Kalla, Sweden, 28:12.0
4. Kristin Stoermer, Norway, 28:13.3
5. Anna Olsson, Sweden, 28.23.0
50. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, 33:19.0