World Cup sprint champion Kikkan Randall topped every one of her heats Saturday to take her 10th World Cup victory in the Szlarska Poreba sprints. (Getty Images/AFP/Bartek Wrzesniowski)
SZKLARSKA POREBA, Poland (Jan. 18) – World Cup sprint champion Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) topped every one of her heats Saturday to take the victory in the Szlarska Poreba World Cup sprints. It was the second win in a week for Randall, moving her up from third to second in the World Cup sprint standings just behind Denise Herrmann of Germany, who took second. In the men’s sprints, Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) took the top finish for the USA in sixth. The men and women take on a 15k/10k classic mass start race on Sunday in Szklarska Poreba.
World Cup champion Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) topped every one of her heats Saturday to take her 10th World Cup victory in the Szlarska Poreba sprints.
It was the second win in a week for Randall, moving her up from third to second in the World Cup sprint standings just behind Denise Herrmann of Germany, who took second.
Five U.S. women qualified for the sprints with one going into each quarterfinal heat, including Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN), Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT), Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT) and Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT).
Randall, Caldwell and Diggins won their quarterfinal heats, while Sargent finished 13th and Stephen 15th.
Randall finished the semifinal in first ahead of Caldwell in third, who didn’t advance and finished seventh. Diggins advanced in third as the lucky loser in her semifinal.
Diggins spent most of the race in fourth, strategically tucked into Kikkan's slipstream, but coming into the final corner she crashed and finished fifth.
Randall settled behind Herrmann for most of the final, taking the lead on a downhill corner coming into the stadium. She finished with a comfortable lead.
In the men’s sprints, Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) took the top finish for the USA in sixth, while Canadian Alex Harvey won for the men.
The men and women take on a 15k/10k classic mass start race on Sunday in Szklarska Poreba.
QUOTES Kikkan Randall The focus of the season has always been on getting in peak shape for the Olympics. We planned to use these last two races and the next races in Toblach to sharpen my race gear and the plan seems to be working just as we had hoped. I'm really happy to be feeling healthy and strong with just three weeks to go now.
It was really fun to have so many teammates in the rounds today. The energy level on the whole team just jumps up a few notches and it's great to be able to talk strategy and encourage each other on. Great to see the younger girls ski strong and confident through the semi finals and fun to have Jessie in the final with me. My heart goes out to Andy, he was looking the best I've seen all season and was in a good position to challenge for the podium when he went down. Sprint racing can be tough that way sometimes.
While the sprint overall is a secondary goal to the Olympics, I still very much want to fight to bring home another crystal globe if I can. The competition is tough this year and I'm going to have to continue to be up at the top in the remaining four sprints to win the globe.
Chris Grover, Head Cross Country Coach It was great to see Kikkan once again in total control, making moves at will and ending up in the lead coming around the final corner into the finishing stretch each round. Kikkan is making her own luck out there in each sprint and it has led to the kind of unbelievable consistency she has in skate sprinting.
It was exciting to see both Jessie Diggins and Andy Newell in the final. Both put themselves in contention for the podium today by being in the right place coming around the final corner, but both unfortunately got tangled up and fell on that corner. It was another super strong day for Sophie Caldwell as well with a smokin' fast qualification and nearly getting through to the finals as a lucky-loser. Overall, it was a great day with six men and women in the top-15 and four athletes in the top 7. And this also is a day when we were missing two of our best sprinters (Simi Hamilton and Sadie Bjornsen) due to minor illness.