WHISTLER OLYMPIC PARK, BC (Feb. 27) – Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) had her best-ever distance finish in the women's 30K mass start classic on Saturday. Known primarily as a sprinter, Randall finished 24th, while Holly Brooks (Anchorage) also had a strong showing for the U.S. in 36th.
"Today was a really solid race for me," Randall said. "I haven't done a 30K at a major championship before. It was nice to get in and ski with a bunch of really fast women."
Randall, who competed in four events at these Games with an eighth-place classic sprint finish, opted not to change her skis at lap intervals, pushing straight through.
"It was nice coming through the stadium and getting a little bit of an advantage on people," she said. "I cramped up pretty bad on the last lap, but I managed to hold it together, so I'm pretty happy with it."
"The Olympics overall have been a fantastic two weeks for me. I hit my goals in the sprint and the team spring and finished it off with a solid race today, so overall I'm really happy with it."
Brooks struggled in the 4x5K relay, feeling less than 100 percent, but she felt great toward the finish of Saturday's race.
"Today I really skied within myself," Brooks said. "I almost wish that I had 10 more K to go, because I felt like I was catching a bunch of girls in front of me."
Brooks said she came in knowing that she had to start slow after she "punched" the uphills and couldn't recover on the downhill portions of earlier races. She only changed skis once.
"I'm really happy that I did it," Brooks said. "Yesterday I wasn't going to, but I'm glad I did. I was so excited for the Olympics and I felt like I almost had an obligation."
2010 WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES
Whistler Olympic Park, BC – Feb. 27
Women's 30K Mass Start Classic
Gold – Justyna Kowalczyk, Poland, 1:30:33.7
Silver – Marit Bjoergen, Norway, +0.3
Bronze – Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, Finland, +1:05.0
4. Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, Germany, +1:19.2
5. Masako Ishida, Japan, +1:22.8
24. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, +4:25.3
36. Holly Brooks, Anchorage, +7:40.8
DNF – Morgan Arritola, Ketchum, ID