DRAMMEN, Norway (March 11) - Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) sprinted to his first World Cup podium in two years, finishing third in a classic sprint Thursday in front of thousands on the streets of Drammen, Norway.
"To have that kind of energy and get up there on the podium for the first time ever in a classic race was pretty sweet," Newell said. "I'm really psyched. It's been way too long. It's taken me two years, so this feels good."
Newell qualified 11th and worked his way through the sprints on a rugged course with snow packed onto the streets of Drammen. He worked his lines carefully through the heats, narrowly avoiding disaster in the quarterfinals, before finishing second in the semis to make the final round of six.
"It's a really scrappy race and the snow is always kind of soft. There's not really any other race like it," Newell said. "It's super scrappy on some of the corners. I was taking some tight lines. In the quarterfinal I got tangled up with a guy in the downhill and ended up cruising down it on one ski. I was lucky enough to not crash in there."
It was Newell's first classic podium, after a pair of top threes in skating sprints the most recent two years ago. It was also a bit of redemption after a disappointing Olympics.
"I was really bummed to have not been able to do this during the Olympics, so I was kind of out for revenge today," Newell said. "I was disappointed with the sprint at the Olympics because I had been feeling great all of February. My fitness was really good and to crash out was pretty frustrating.
"I was disappointed and I'm sure the rest of the ski fans in the U.S. were disappointed, so it was good to show people that we have the potential to be on the podium."
According to Newell, the race was hard fought, and until he crossed the finish line, he was unaware of how he had done.
"It's always a really tough race because the times are always really close. Out of any World Cup, it's one of the toughest fields," Newell said. "I was so psyched when I crossed the finish line. When you're racing like that you're so in the zone that you almost don't realize that you're in a podium position. When I crossed the finish line it was such a relief to be up there with some of those great skiers."
Adding to the excitement of the day for Newell was being able to race in front of such a large crowd in the race that took place on the city streets.
"It's such a cool course because there's 70,000 people out there or something like that," Newell said.
Now, Newell's focus shifts to the upcoming races where he says he hopes he will be able to finish out the season strong.
"The focus for me is on the next two sprints. We're going to race again on Sunday so it's a pretty quick turnaround. But it's my favorite time of year because you're not doing any training, you're just racing and that's what it's all about," Newell said. "I'll hopefully finish out the season strong and do the best that I can in the season's sprint World Cup standings. That's my goal."
The cross country team races again in Norway on Saturday for the prestigious Holmenkollen Ski Festival with a men's 50K and women's 30K mass start.
2010 Viewsmann FIS Cross Country World Cup
Drammen, Finland – March 11, 2010
1. Emil Joensson, Sweden
2. Petter Northug, Norway
3. Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT
4. Eirik Brandsdal, Norway
5. Yuichi Onda, Japan
53. Simi Hamilton, Aspen, CO
65. Brian Gregg
1. Marit Bjoergen, Norway
2. Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, Finland
3. Pirjo Muranen, Finland
4. Magdalena Pajala, Sweden
5. Karianne Bjellaanes, Norway
34. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage