Kikkan Randall and Sadie Bjornsen celebrate their podium finish in the team sprint in Duesseldorf. (Getty Images/Bongarts)
DUESSELDORF, Germany (Dec. 4) - The U.S. Ski Team's Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) and Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) combined for an historic FIS World Cup podium Sunday in a sprint relay in Duesseldorf. The U.S. team turned in a strong performance, finishing just 1.6 seconds behind Norway in the freestyle sprint. The podium came just a day after Randall won her fourth career World Cup.
The podium from Kikkan Randall and Sadie Bjornsen was the first in history for the USA. (previous best fourth for women in Jan. 2009 Olympic test event at Whistler Olympic Park and Dec. 2008 Duesseldorf for men).
Randall won the individual sprint a day earlier; Bjornsen narrowly missed qualifying.
The USA 2 team of Holly Brooks and Ida Sargent were a strong 15th.
Randall, Bjornsen and Brooks all train with APU Nordic.
The sprinters will now rejoin their teammates for training in Davos, Switzerland before next weekend's World Cup.
QUOTES Kikkan Randall Today even tops yesterday! I've always known that we could put together a podium-capable relay team, and we did it! Sadie skied really well - being patient when needed, skiing smarty and gutsy, and keeping us right in there!
We skied strong in the semi-final and that gave us good confidence for the final. We knew we just needed to stay in contention early in the race and that we would be stronger near the end. I was definitely a little tired from the long day yesterday but I found it felt better as the day went on.
Our final tag was a good one and I was able to work my way past a couple teams on the first corner. I just reminded myself to stay relaxed and be patient. Coming down the back stretch I could tell some of the other girls were looking tired.
I pushed hard over the top of Mt. Dusseldorf and got into fourth going into the final turn. With the podium in reach, I pulled a similar move to yesterday and swung wide and free skated into the finish lanes. I don't even remember passing anyone but just before the line I realized we were in second and celebrated. Getting that hug from Sadie right after was awesome.
It's always such a bigger feeling of satisfaction when you have success in a team effort. All of our teammates were on course cheering us on and our service team did a top-notch job once again on the skis.
Sadie Bjornsen Today was amazing. What a feeling. Now I can truly understand why people keep coming back year after year. I think I can safely say today was one of the best days of my life. In fact, I still can't stop smiling!
It was an amazing day - not just because Kikkan and I had success today but because the two other U.S. ladies (Holly Brooks and Ida Sargent) who raced could have been standing in the same place as me. It's a real testament to the team effort that has been going in the U.S. There is nothing like sharing a great feeling with the ladies you are training with 350 days of the year!!
The race was crazy. Having almost no experience skiing within the heats on the World Cup circuit, I am just not used to how fast and aggressive everyone is. I had no problem being aggressive and pushing back, but sometimes it catches you by surprise. I knew that as long as I stayed on my feet, skied strong and raced my heart out to the line, Kikkan would complete the magic.
The atmosphere was incredible. There was so many fans, and somehow I still managed to hear my teammates and coaches out there screaming for us. That is a feeling that I won't forget for a long time!