WHISTLER OLYMPIC PARK, BC (Feb. 22) – Caitlin Compton (Minneapolis) and Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) joined forces for a strong performance in Monday's team sprint, finishing sixth – up four spots from 10th in Torino.
"It all kind of came together at the last minute," Randall said. "We have a really strong women's team all together and we didn't pick our team until the last two days, but Caitlin's really strong and it's great to have a partner that's going to keep me in the race."
The pair fought from sixth to third on the last three rounds of the semifinals, a clutch drive into the final. It was more of the same in the final, with Randall mustering the power on her last sprint to bring them from eighth to sixth.
"Kikkan's last lap was phenomenal," Compton said. "You couldn't ask a person to have a better lap."
The U.S. had been behind the eight ball from the start, falling into ninth when Compton got tripped up by fallen skiers.
"I noticed some girls bogging down to the right and I saw an opening so I went left and sure enough the group to the right went down," she said. "As they were clearing their pileup, one of the girls just stepped right out in front of me on my ski and I went down."
Randall was preparing for her first lap and didn’t see the accident, but she could tell from the spread-out field that something had happened.
"I was hoping Caitlin got the good end of that, but she did get caught up in it, so I knew that our game plan just changed a little bit and that we were going to have to try to make up some ground every lap," she said.
"Overall I felt strong every round and still had a lot left at the finish."
Germany eked out a .6-second win over Sweden, with Russia claiming the bronze just four seconds back.
Compton said the format – six grueling sprints for semifinals, an hour break, and six more sprints – suited the duo perfectly.
"It was a great race for the two of us and I think just having an hour in between really plays to our strengths so I think we were ready to go out there and give it everything we have."
The women's team 4X5K relay is Thursday at 11 a.m. PT.
2010 WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES
Whistler Olympic Park, BC (Feb. 22)
Women's Team Sprint
Gold – Germany, 18:03.7
Silver – Sweden, +0.6
Bronze – Russia, +4.0
4. Italy, +10.5
5. Norway, +29.1
6. United States, +47.9