WHISTLER OLYMPIC PARK, BC (Feb. 25) – Norway’s Marit Bjoergen pulled well ahead of the Italian team to coast to her third gold of these Games in the women’s 4x5K relay on Thursday. Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) led the U.S. Ski Team into 12th place, with the sprint specialist gritting out a fourth-place first leg.
"I've been on the World Cup a few years now and I knew that if I could put together a good race that I could bring our team in near the front," Randall said. "It's fun to be ahead of those teams that you know can win medals, and we'll just have to keep working on our depth."
Randall (Anchorage) was just 10.4 seconds back of leaders Sweden when teammate Holly Brooks (Anchorage) took over for the second leg of classic racing and dropped the pace.
"I'm just not feeling 100 percent," Brooks said. "I don't know if I have some underlying sickness. My head was hurting a lot at the end of the race and my legs kind of fluttered at the end of the race."
Morgan Arritola (Ketchum, ID) raced the third leg of free, with Caitlin Compton (Minneapolis) racing the anchor leg.
"I struggled to find the speed in the snow, the glide," Compton said. "I felt like the body wanted to be faster than the snow was letting it go. Kind of a weird feeling out there."
Randall said the "sky's the limit" for the U.S. Team after significant improvements in recent years.
"We have to take small steps," Randall said. "We're not going to do it overnight. We've made huge leaps and bounds since 2002 and 2006, and we're getting closer all the time and expecting more and more. I know some of our skiers didn't race as well as they wanted to these two weeks, but I'm pretty happy with some of my performances, and I think we're just going to get better and better."
2010 WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES
Whistler Olympic Park, BC – Feb. 25
Ladies 4x5K Relay Classic/Free
Gold – Norway, 55:19.5
Silver – Germany, +24.6
Bronze – Finland, +30.4
4. Italy, +45.4
5. Sweden, +59.4
12. United States, +3:38.0