STOCKHOLM, Sweden (March 16) - U.S. skier Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) led the American squad taking a strong fifth in the final World Cup sprint of the season Wednesday in Stockholm. Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) finished third in the World Cup sprint standings.
In front of the Royal Palace in downtown Stockholm, a huge crowd witnessed some of the most aggressive sprints of the season under bright sunshine and with good clean snow that was trucked in to the venue.
Newell took a ninth in the qualification round and was joined in qualifying by Randall who was 13th. Newell went out in heat four in the qualies and placed a powerful second to Norwegian Petter Northug to move to the semifinals. In that heat Newell was third yet made the finals with a time that was fast enough to place him in the lucky loser bracket.
Newell finished fifth with Swedish star Emil Joensson taking the win. The result was Newell’s best finish of the season. He skied the entire day on skating gear and relayed heavily on his double pole skills. He started with kick wax, but did the finals with only glide wax.
"It was a tough decision for me and you don’t have a lot of time to think about it. But I sure got my double pole on. I missed a little on the last hill. But I’m happy with fifth," Newell said. He finished eighth in the World Cup sprint standings. "I’ve had some ups and downs this season and I know I can do better. These are still stepping stones in my career."
Randall was fifth coming out of semifinal second heat and finished 10th. Petra Majdic of Slovenia took the win in 2:28.4 and clinched the women’s World Cup sprint title, with Arianna Follis second and Randall in an impressive third, only seven points behind Follis.
"I am just ecstatic," said Randall, who was already on a bus headed to Falun some 230k north. "To shoot for the overall title in sprints wasn’t even on my radar screen last year—I have never been in the top 10 overall before—and now this. I am just thrilled. It’s already got me looking forward to next year.”
U.S. Ski Team coach Matt Whitcomb called it a great day.
"Kikkan and Andy did what they needed to do and we all feel great about it, said Whitcomb. "This was a terrific way to start off the World Cup Finals. The course was tough with some significant climbs. Now we head to Falun."
Competition will move north on Friday to the famed Falun Ski Center in Sweden as part of a three-day mini tour that will conclude the FIS World Cup calendar at the site of the 2015 FIS World Nordic Ski Championships.
FIS World Cup Finals
Stockholm, Sweden - March 16, 2011
Classic 1k Sprint Technique
1. Emil Joensson, Sweden
2. Peter Northug, Norway
3. Ola Vigen Hattestad, Norway
5. Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT
37. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH
1. Petra Majdic, Slovenia
2. Marit Bjoergen, Norway
3. Maiken Caspersen Falla, Norway
10. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage
44. Holly Brooks, Anchorage
For complete results: www.fis-ski.com
Final World Cup Sprint Standings
1. Emil Joensson, Sweden, 580
2. Ola Vigen Hattestad, Norway, 407
3. Jesper Modin, Sweden, 300
1. Petra Majdic, Slovenia, 480
2. Arianna Follis, Italy, 434
3. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, 427
For Overall results visit: www.fis-ski.com