Randall Now Seventh in Tour (Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty Images)
TOBLACH, Italy (Jan. 3) - It was a tough day for the U.S. Ski Team in stage five of the Tour de Ski in Toblach. Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) was 29th in a tightly fought 3.3k classic prologue to the three stages in Toblach, dropping to seventh in the overall. Norway's Marit Bjoergen took the win but remains second in the Tour behind Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk. Russian Alexander Legkov took the men's win while Swiss Dario Cologna charged into the Tour lead.
Kikkan Randall was 29th, 43 seconds behind winner Marit Bjoergen.
Randall dropped from fourth to seventh in Tour de Ski standings, but is less than eight seconds out of fourth.
Holly Brooks (Anchorage) was 53rd, Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) 56th.
Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) became ill overnight and was forced to drop out of the Tour. Teammate Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) dropped out in stage four due to a cold.
QUOTES Kikkan Randall Today was a tough race but I felt I skied better than the result looked. I felt good, fought hard and skied technically pretty well. I may have been a little flat from our unexpected long day in the van yesterday, but the race feeling was still good.
Regardless of the result today I think this sets me up well for tomorrow's skate sprint!
There was both a lot of flat and gradual striding. My strategy was to start out aggressive - really work the opening flats - then hit the gradual climbs with a smooth but urgent stride. I felt like I executed this pretty well and was definitely feeling the burn at the tops of each climb and on the double pole in the last kilometer.
It was another challenging waxing day. I tested both hard wax and zeros and chose to go on the hardwax for better kick. The field seemed to be split pretty evenly between wax and no wax. I think my skis were pretty good. I had pretty solid kick but may have been a tad slow on glide. I didn't really ski near anyone though so it's hard to tell. Having good skis was definitely important today with times so tight.
I am focusing on the sprint tomorrow and then I'll start thinking about the overall again for the next day. At this point I am psyched to still be so close to fourth. I just want to keep fighting every day!