DAVOS, Switzerland (Dec. 13) - World Championship silver medalist Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) got her sprint legs heated up Sunday, landing a seventh-place finish during a World Cup sprint in Davos, Switzerland.
Slovenia's Petra Majdic won the women's freestyle sprint, followed in second by Marit Bjoergen of Norway in second and Finland's Aino-Kaisa Saarinen in third.
With some great pacing and fitness in her arsenal, Randall was well on her way to making the final heat when an uphill crash ahead of her brought things to a halt.
"I took an outside line there because that worked really well for me in the quarterfinals. I was about to make a good move when all of a sudden the two skiers in front of me got tangled in each other's poles and skis. Everything came to a standstill and I was totally blocked," Randall said. "I made up as much ground as I could, but unfortunately because we stalled on the hill, I just missed being the lucky loser."
However, it was Randall's best sprint finish thus far this season and that, along with the way she was feeling, left her wishing she could have gone further in the race.
"Every heat was getting better and better for me. In the semifinals I felt really good. I'm happy. I felt a little flat all week and yesterday was a disappointing race. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel today, but I felt better and better," Randall said. "I'm bummed I didn't get a chance to go for it in the finals because I think it could have been good today."
For now, Randall plans on taking the day's successes and carrying them over the next World Cup sprint.
"It gives me confidence that I'm on track and that training is going well. The next race will be a classic sprint and I look forward to another shot."
Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT) and Morgan Arritola (Ketchum, ID) also raced for U.S. women, finishing 51st and 77th, respectively. According to U.S. Cross Country Coach Chris Grover, the racing serves as great experience for the two.
"Liz and Morgan raced, but sprinting is not what their focus is. They are focusing on distance but we are putting them in the sprint in order to get them some more World Cup experience - more practice going to the line and knocking heads with the ladies," Grover said. "They both raced great and improved their sprint points a little."
On the men's side, Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) was gunning for the podium in Sunday's race, but some bad luck got the better of him, landing him in 22nd.
"When Andy started his quarterfinal he had his pole broken right away," Grover said. "He got a new pole pretty quickly and was able to get back on to the group, but when they saw he broke the pole, they put the hammer down."
The team races next in Slovenia Dec. 19-20 in mid distance and sprint.
2010 Viessmann FIS Cross Country World Cup
Davos, Switzerland - Dec. 13, 2009
1. John Kristian Dahl, Norway
2. Petter Northug, Norway
3. Alexey Petukhov, Russia
4. Matias Strandvall, Finland
5. Oeystein Pettersen, Norway
22. Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT
32. Torin Koos, Leavenworth, WA
57. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH
73. Lars Flora, Anchorage
1. Petra Majdic, Slovenia
2. Marit Bjoergen, Norway
3. Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, Finland
4. Vesna Fabjan, Slovenia
5. Marianna Longa, Italy
7. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage
51. Liz Stephen, East Montpelier, VT
77. Morgan Arritola, Ketchum, ID