PARK CITY, UT (Jan. 19) – World Championship medalist Kikkan Randall (Anchorage), along with Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) and Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) headline a group of eight athletes announced Tuesday by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) for the 2010 Olympic Cross Country Ski Team.
USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt, together with the U.S. Olympic Committee and Team partner Visa, announced the roster of athletes to compete in the cross country events at the Whistler Olympic Park north of Vancouver.
"This is a Team that goes to Vancouver well-prepared, with proven success in major international competitions," said U.S. Nordic Director John Farra.
Randall, who will be taking part in her third Olympics, became the first American woman to win a World Championships silver medal in the freestyle sprint last year. Her focus this season has been to expand her skills in the classic sprint and distance races. The individual Olympic sprint will be classic technique, with the team sprint freestyle.
Newell, who has skied to World Cup podiums in the past, will be making his second Olympic appearance. He has been consistently among the top qualifiers in World Cup sprints this season in both classic and freestyle technique and is considered one of the sport's fastest skiers.
Freeman, who will become another three-time Olympian, has twice finished fourth in the 15K classic event at World Championships. He is also a diabetic and has worked with USSA Sport Science on the management of the disease in race conditions. After surgery last spring for compartment syndrome, he's come back stronger than ever and was just off the podium in an early season World Cup.
The Olympic Team coaching staff will be headed by two-time Olympian Pete Vordenberg.
The 2010 Team is smaller than in the past, the result of a new Olympic quota system. U.S. officials are also optimistic of the possibility of additional quota spots becoming available later in January. "While the Team is smaller, we're also still confident of both having the athletes to challenge for top results while at the same time preparing first-time Olympians for the future," said Vordenberg.
Randall, Newell and Freeman all made the Team based on World Cup results. The remaining five athletes qualified through results scored on the USSA National Ranking List.
Other past Olympians include Torin Koos (Leavenworth, WA), who has skied to a World Cup podium and is competing in his third Olympics, and 2006 Team member James Southam (Anchorage). First time Olympians making the 2010 squad are Morgan Arritola (Ketchum, ID), Caitlin Compton (Minneapolis) and Liz Stephen (Montpelier, VT).
Athletes are presently training around the country, preparing for a pre-Olympic camp and World Cup on the 1988 Olympic trails in Canmore, AB Feb. 1-8. The team will arrive in Vancouver on Feb. 9 to prepare for a schedule that includes 12 medal events.
The Team is subject to final review by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
2010 U.S. OLYMPIC CROSS COUNTRY SKI TEAM
(name, hometown, age as of opening ceremonies, birthdate, (past Olympics))
Morgan Arritola, Ketchum, ID, 23, 5/13/86
Caitlin Compton, Minneapolis, 29, 11/7/80
Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, 29, 10/14/80 (2002, 2006)
Torin Koos, Leavenworth, 29, 7/19/80 (2002, 2006)
Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT, 25, 11/30/84 (2006)
Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, 27, 12/31/82 (2002, 2006)
James Southam, Anchorage, 31, 6/5/78 (2006)
Liz Stephen, Montpelier, VT, 22, 1/12/87
Team Announcement Press Conference Audio