Athletes collapse in the finish area as dusk settles over Oberhof in the opening prologue stage of the Tour de Ski. (Getty Images/Bongarts-Dennis Grombkowski)
OBERHOF, Germany (Dec. 29) - The U.S. Ski Team's Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) set the pace for the USA in the opening leg of the 11-day Tour de Ski. Randall was tenth in the 2.5k freestyle prologue, 7.2 seconds behind Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk. Andy Newell was 29th in the men's 3.75k behind winner Petter Northug of Norway.
Six U.S. athletes are entered in the 11-day, nine-stage Tour de Ski in Germany and Italy.
Kikkan Randall's finish just seven seconds back from the leader will keep her in good position heading into the next stages.
Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) was 37th, Holly Brooks 53rd.
Andy Newell is now 35 seconds back
Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) was 63rd, Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) 64th - both around 52 seconds back.
Action continues Friday with pursuits in Oberhof before the tour heads to Oberstdorf, Germany
QUOTES Chris Gover, Head Coach Liz and Kikkan were both satisfied with their races. That was the first prologue ever for Liz! It takes some experience in this event before one can typically be successful in it. I know that all three men and Holly were left wanting more and everyone is already looking forward to tomorrow's 10/15 C Pursuit.