Athletes ski through the stadium in the darkness at the Ruka Triple in Kuusamo. (Ruka/Teemu Lahtinen)
KUUSAMO, Finland (Nov. 27) - Another strong early season performance Sunday by the U.S. Ski Team's Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) put her in sixth place in the Ruka Triple mini stage race in Kuusamo. Randall was 16th fastest in the finale pursuit to finish strongly among the powerhouse athletes of the sport in the three-day event, also keeping her in sixth place in the FIS Cross Country World Cup standings after four races. Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) was the top American man in 43rd. Norway's Marit Bjoergen continued undefeated in taking the women's title while countryman Petter Northug won the men's. The World Cup is now scheduled to head to Central Europe for weekend sprints in Duesseldorf, Germany.
Kikkan Randall came into the final 10k classic pursuit fifth and dropped only one spot to take sixth overall in the three-day Ruka Triple
Randall was 16th fastest in the 10k classic pursuit
Holly Brooks skied up from 28th to 22nd
Liz Stephen skied up from 48th to 35th
QUOTES Kikkan Randall I'm feeling super psyched and satisfied with my Ruka mini-tour this weekend. Today was definitely a hard race. I ended up skiing most of the race by myself and had to hold off a hard charging pack in the last 2k. I was really happy to hold on to 6th place. My skis were great. My body was feeling a little tired after the previous two days but I was still able to put up a good fight.
Last year I was happy to finish in the top 20 here, so to be 6th today is a real breakthrough for me.
I'm also super fired up about our women's team results as a whole. Holly had another incredible day and Liz, Ida and Sadie all skied really strong as well.
We've got some incredible momentum going right now and it's so fun to be a part of it.
Now I am looking forward to a few easy days, maybe some central European sun and coffee, and then getting fired up again for the sprints in Ddorf next weekend!
Head Cross Country Coach Chris Grover It was obviously a breakthrough weekend for Kikkan and for the women in general. Kikkan skied super tough to only drop one place today and to hold off charges coming from behind from Saarinen and company.
Another personal best for Holly (Brooks) and best classic World Cup finish. Also had personal best World Cup classic distance results from Liz (Stephen) and Ida (Sargent) in 36th and 37th. We had great skis.
The men had an up and down day. Kris was disappointed in his race and felt like he selected the wrong pair of skis. Noah Hoffman had the USA's fastest race of the day and skied with a lot more energy than he did yesterday. Andy Newell also had a much better day and both he and Noah moved up about 20 places in the standings.