Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk celebrates her third straight Tour de Ski stage win. American Kikkan Randall was matching up with Kowalczyk in the semifinals before crashing on the final hill. (Getty Images/AFP).
OBERSTDORF, Germany (Dec. 31) - A fall on the final climb in the classic sprint semifinals cost Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) a spot in the finals as she finished ninth in stage three of the Tour de Ski in Oberstdorf. Justyna Kowalczyk won her third straight stage while Russian Nikita Kriukov won the men's sprint. Randall retained her World Cup sprint lead and moved into fifth in the Tour de Ski rankings.
Birthday girl Kikkan Randall finished ninth in the classic sprint.
The finish moved Randall from sixth to fifth in the Tour de Ski standings after three stages.
Randall remains in the World Cup sprint lead by 56 points over Russian Natalia Matveeva.
Russian Nikita Kriukov won the men's sprint.
Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) qualified 28th and finished 25th
Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) just missed the cut at 34; Kris Freeman 2as 43rd.
Holly Brooks (Anchorage) was 40th, Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) 58th).
Freeman is the top American man in the Tour de Ski standings in 30th.
QUOTES Kikkan Randall First heat you battled with Charlotte Kalla most of the way for a close victory. Talk about your strategy and strength to hold her off at the finish. Charlotte was strong in the quarterfinal and my wax wasn't as solid as it had been in the qualifying round. So I just tried to keep it close and made sure to finish strong. I wanted to make sure I was in solid qualifying position but not waste too much energy.
Tough semi going up against Kowalczyk but you seemed to be holding your own and setting yourself up for a finals spot. Talk about what happened on the final hill. . Ah man, the semi felt so good. I felt in total control and really strong. My strategy was to be in qualifying position again and save a little energy for the final, so that is why I didn't try to stay right on Kowalczyk.
As for the fall, I'm not really sure what happened, it was a total surprise! I think my wax may have caught, causing one ski to cross the other and then I launched into the air. It was super frustrating because I was in a great position and I really wanted to have a chance in the final.
While a ninth wasn't what you were hoping for, you did move up a spot in the tour standings and still have a strong lead in the sprint World Cup. Talk about the stages ahead until the next the next sprint leg. The nice thing about the tour is that you immediately have the next race to look forward to. I'm really psyched about my overall standing right now and I think tomorrow could be another good stage for me. After tomorrow we have a rest day and then I think another prologue before the sprint. All good events for me. I'm still feeling really strong and I hope to just keep charging and moving my way up. I'm definitely looking forward to the next sprint!
Chris Grover, Head Coach A frustrating and wet day for us for sure. Kikkan looked fantastic, had good skis, and was on her way to yet another classic sprint final before the crash. But that is sprinting. There were many crashes today. Andy was feeling a bit better today but we made his skis too slick and he couldn't get through the quarters. Simi looked great and was so close to making the rounds. Kris and Holly also skied very well. It was a second very hard classic wax day for our staff. The day started with heavy snowfall and changed to rain about the time of the qualification. The nice thing about the Tour is that tomorrow is a new day!!!