PRAGUE, Czech Republic (Jan. 4) - The U.S. Ski Team's Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) wrapped up his time on the Tour de Ski Monday, qualifying for finals for the second time this year and finishing sixth in the freestyle sprint in the Czech Republic. With the finish, Newell boosted himself to third in the World Cup sprint standings.
"I made it to the final, which is always the goal, but unfortunately I ran out of gas by the end," Newell said. "I didn't make any tactical errors, I was just tired, which is frustrating."
Emil Joensson of Sweden won the race, which took place on the city streets of Prague, followed in second by Marcus Hellner, also of Sweden, and Norway's Simen Oestensen in third.
According to U.S. Cross Country Coach Chris Grover, racing in the Tour, which crosses three nations in the eight-event, 10-day stage race, is a challenge given the amount of miles athletes are putting in day-to-day.
"He's disappointed. He was having a good day and he dominated his quarterfinal. He's had a lot of races like that this year. The podium has been a little bit elusive for him," Grover said. "But at the same time it's a special event that we are in. This is the fourth day of racing in a row, so Andy's tired. When we go to a sprint he's usually fresh, but he's drained."
For Newell, having fatigue hold him back was frustrating.
"To make it to the final and get wiped out was hard," Newell said. "The conditions made it tough. It was easy to get tired because the snow was so deep in certain parts of the course."
The Tour's length was never in the season's plans, but a change in Newell's Christmas plans landed the athlete in the stage race for what Grover called 'good preparation'.
"When we went into the year this was not a part of our plan. But Andy wanted to spend Christmas in Europe so he didn't have to travel and have to acclimate," Grover said. "We figured if he was going to stay, we may as well do the first few stages of the tour."
Despite some frustration with the day's race, Newell hopes to return to the Tour for competition next year.
"It was cool. It was a neat experience to be racing so many days in a row, which is something that we don't normally do. We're always used to racing when we're 100 percent rested. You can't do that here on the tour," Newell said. "It was fun and I'm hoping to be back next year, hopefully as a better distance skier and able to place higher in the overall."
The Cross Country Team now heads to Otepaa in Estonia for women's 10K and men's 15K classic races, as well as a classic sprint.
"I head to Estonia for my last World Cup before going home to get ready to compete in the Olympics," Newell said.
2010 Viessman FIS Tour de Ski
Prague, Czech Republic – Jan. 4, 2010
1. Emil Joensson, Sweden
2. Marcus Hellner, Sweden
3. Simen Oestensen, Norway
4. Dussan Kozisek, Czech Republic
5. Teodor Peterson, Sweden
6. Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT
1. Natalia Korosteleva, Russia
2. Celine Brun-Lie, Norway
3. Alena Prochazkova, Slovakia
4. Arianna Follis, Italy
5. Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, Finland