Kikkan Randall reaches for the sky at the finish line after outsprinting Natalia Vedeeva of Russia for her four career World Cup win in Duesseldorf. (Getty Images/AFP)
DUESSELDORF, Germany (Dec. 3) - The U.S. Ski Team's Kikkan Randall skied a brilliant final in the freestyle sprint, making a critical pass in the homestretch to win her fourth career FIS World Cup sprint. Randall had to fight her way back after a slow start, but showed great strength through to the finish line for the victory. Ola Viga Hattestad of Norway won the men's sprint while American Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) was 16th. The win moved Randall into the World Cup sprint lead.
Fourth career World Cup win for Kikkan Randall
Qualifying 10th, Randall was second in her quarter-final heat and dominated her semi-final.
In the championship round, Randall had a slow start and had to take some risks skating through the pack to settle in behind Russian Natalia Matveeva. Randall was clearly the stronger skier as she made her move in the final hundred meters.
The win boosted Randall into fifth in the FIS World Cup overall and first in the sprint standings.
Andy Newell qualified 14th but missed out by one-tenth from moving on in the first heat after breaking a pole.
Action wraps up in Duesseldorf Sunday with a two-person team sprint.
QUOTES Kikkan Randall There was a lot of moving around out there today. I was glad I had a little left in my legs at the end. It was so loud out there I couldn't even hear myself breathing hard. It was really fun here today.
The course was fast and furious out there. Conditions were pretty warm and rainy early in the day which made the snow really fast and almost icy in places. It was tough to balance!!
I had my full gears today and was able to make a couple of decisive moves at important points.
In the final, I didn't get off to a very good start and had to fight my way up. Chandra Crawford and I exchanged contact a little bit and so I backed off and let her in front around the first corner. I went for an opening through the middle of Crawford and Matveeva coming into Mt. Dusseldorf and made it up into second.
Coming off the final turn I just put my head down and skated with all I had. I was a little off balance but was able to carry good speed in the free skate technique and came up beside Matveeva. I was carrying so much speed, it was crazy!
Last year when I went up on stage to accept the second place award and listened to them play the Italian National Anthem for Arianna Follis, I told myself I wanted to hear the Star Spangled Banner this year. It was pretty special to hear the anthem played out loud and I sung every word of it!!!
I had amazing skis today and our team did a fantastic job of making sure all I had to do was focus on racing. My favorite part of the day was high fiving everybody right after the finish. This victory goes out to them.
Really fired up to race the team sprint tomorrow with Sadie (Bjornsen). I think we can be in the mix!
Chris Grover, Cross Country Head Coach Another great skate sprint for Kikkan. She has actually won the last three World Cup skate sprints that she has entered (Liberec, Drammen, and Dusseldorf). She was so determined out there. Dusseldorf is such a short sprint for women (circa 900 meters and 1:45) that you can't afford to be in the back in your heat. She did not exactly have the start that she wanted in the finals and she absolutely fought her way up to second place by the back side of the course (coming off of "Mt. Dusseldorf") and eventually to the win in the finish stretch.
Andy had a bit of a rough day breaking a pole in the quarterfinals, getting a new pole from our staff, fighting his way back up to second place on the second lap, but getting out-lunged at the finish line by Norwegian Thomas Northug. I believe his form is really coming though and expect better things from him next weekend in Davos.
We were also very excited about Sadie Bjornsen's result: 0.3 seconds from making the rounds as a U23 athlete. She and Kikkan will make up our number one women's team sprint squad tomorrow.