ROGLA, Slovenia (Dec. 19) – American Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) made his first final group of the World Cup season in the men’s sprint on Saturday in Rogla. Newell, seventh in Dusseldorf, Germany, and Kuusamo, Finland, already this year, led all racers in qualifying and won his quarter final heat before advancing as a lucky loser in the semifinals to make the final round, finishing sixth.
"It was a fun day," Newell said. "Really epic conditions; snowing super hard, super cold.
"I just didn’t quite have enough for it at the end of the race."
Norway’s Peter Northug prevailed in the final round, but sixth marks Newell’s best finish since January, even if the 26-year-old failed to get an elusive first World Cup victory.
Newell dominated the qualifying round and was similarly impressive in the quarter final, in which he could have won by more but chose to conserve himself for future rounds.
"It was a great qualifying race," said U.S. World Cup Coach Justin Wadsworth. "When somebody wins qualifying by two seconds, you’re skiing very quickly.
"We knew it would be a big day for him from the start," he added.
Wadsworth said the trying circumstances favored distance skiers with superior endurance, and the leaders pulled away from Newell in the final 150 meters of the final.
Still, skier and coach were happy for a good result in an endurance racer’s sprint.
"I think he’s feeling pretty good about everything right now," Wadsworth said.
Newell said he’s excited to have finishes of sixth and seventh in the season’s two Classic sprint events (the format at the Olympics in Vancouver), despite having room for progress.
"I’m not trying to be at peak fitness right now," Newell said. "Hopefully in February, the training will pay off."
Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) failed to advance past qualifying on the women’s side, as did Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) Lars Flora (Bend, OR), Torin Koos (Leavenworth, WA) on the men’s.
2010 Viessmann FIS Cross Country World Cup
Rogla, Slovenia - Dec. 19, 2009
1. Peter Northug, Norway, 4:09.9
2. Tobias Angerer, Germany, +1.2
3. Jesper Modin, Sweden, +1.8
4. Nikita Kriukov, Russia, +2.4
5. Dario Cologna, Switzerland, +2.5
6. Andrew Newell, Shaftsbury, VT, +6.1
DNQ – 28. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH; 41. Lars Flora, Bend, OR; 42. Torin Koos, Leavenworth, WA
1. Marit Bjoergen, Norway, 4:28.8
2. Justyna Kowalczyk, Poland, +0.4
3. Petra Majdic, Slovenia, +3.4
4. Anna Haag, Sweden, +4.8
5. Aino Kaisa Saarinen, Finland, +7.5
6. Lina Andersson, Sweden, +55.2
DNQ – 38. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage