LAHTI, Finland (March 6) - World Championship silver medalist Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) got back into the World Cup season Saturday, leading the U.S. in 24th during the women's 15K and men's 30K pursuits in Finland.
The women's race was won by Marit Bjoergen of Norway, followed by Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk in second and Therese Johaug of Norway in third.
According to U.S. Cross Country Head Coach Pete Vordenberg, the result is an encouraging one for Randall's future in the sport.
"She definitely hasn't done a lot of pursuits, but this year I think her distance racing has come a long way," Vordenberg said. "For her, 24th is a pretty encouraging result. It wasn't too long ago when there was just no way she was going to get in the top 30. I think she's still rolling well."
Morgan Arritola (Ketchum, ID) had a landmark for the year, landing in the top 30 of the World Cup for the first time this season.
In the men's race, which was won by Maurice Manificat of France, James Southam (Anchorage) led the U.S. in 36th.
For Vordenberg, a key to the team's success will be figuring out how they can make improvements.
"We're just a notch or two down from where we could be at this time and we're thinking hard about what's going on with the team, why that is and where we could have done things better," Vordenberg said.
But, the team still has one more World Cup this season and Vordenberg said they will keep their focus.
"We have Oslo coming up, and our thing is just to keep our head down and keep hammering away every day and that's what we'll do until the end," Vordenberg said.
The World Cup in Finland continues Sunday with a team sprint event.
2010 Viessmann FIS Cross Country World Cup
Lahti, Finland - March 6, 2010
1. Maurice Manificat, France, 1:11:44.2
2. Lukas Bauer, Czech Republic, 1:11:47.8
3. Ilia Chernousov, Russia, 1:12:30.4
4. Maxim Vylegzhanin, Russia, 1:12:30.4
5. Valerio Checchi, Italy, 1:12:31.1
36. James Southam, Anchorage, 1:15:51.0
46. Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT, 1:18:28.6
1. Marit Bjoergen, Norway, 40:10.8
2. Justyna Kowalczyk, Poland, 40:21.9
3. Therese Johaug, Norway, 40:28.6
4. Riitta-Liisa Roponen, Finland, 40:59.3
5. Marthe Kristoffersen, Norway, 41:00.3
24. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, 42:49.5
29. Morgan Arritola, Ketchum, ID, 43:18.2
40. Liz Stephen, East Montpelier, VT, 44:52.5