Kikkan Randall became the first American woman in history to break into the top three overall in the FIS Cross Country World Cup on Sunday. (Getty Images/AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand)
FALUN, Sweden (March 24) – Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) became the first American woman in history to break into the top three overall in the FIS Cross Country World Cup on Sunday. Randall finished seventh in the Falun 10k freestyle pursuit, the fourth stage of this week’s mini-tour, cementing her into the number three spot. She started 15th, 2:52 back from the leader, Marit Bjoergen of Norway, who ran away with the win. Randall needed to at least maintain her 15th position in order to secure her third overall position and she easily moved up the field with the day’s second fastest time.
Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) broke into the top three overall in the FIS Cross Country World Cup on Sunday.
Before Sunday, no American woman had ever finished in the top three overall. Randall was fifth last year.
Previously, only one American had ever finished in the top three. Bill Koch won the title in 1982 and was third in 1983.
Randall won the World Cup sprint title for the second year in a row last week and also placed 10th in the distance standings.
Randall finished seventh in the Falun 10k freestyle pursuit Sunday, the fourth and final stage of this week’s mini-tour, cementing her into the number three spot.
She started 15th, 2:52 back from leader Marit Bjoergen of Norway.
Randall was able to move up quickly, skating up to 12th and juggling with Finland's Krista Lahteenmaki for most of the race in 12th and 13th place.
They built a good gap ahead of the next pack and stayed well ahead of the 15th spot Kikkan needed to clinch third.
With two kilometers to go, Randall started to move up through the field. From the eight to nine kilometer marks, she moved from 12th up to eighth, and then picked up another spot in the final kilometer to finish seventh.
Randall earned the second fastest time of the day, just behind Norwegian Therese Johaug, who finished second.
Stephen took 20th in the cross country overall and also 15th in distance standings. Last year she was 42nd overall and 28th in distance.
Marit Bjoergen ran away with the win on Sunday.
Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk, who had clinched the World Cup title, withdrew before the start.
In a 10k freestyle pursuit, skiers are seeded at the start by their mini-tour time differential, so that every stage builds up to the final.
In the men’s 15k pursuit, Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO) finished 27th, the top spot for U.S. men.
Petter Northug Jr. led the Norwegian sweep.
Sunday’s race was the final race of the FIS Cross Country World Cup, one of the strongest seasons ever for the U.S. team.
QUOTES Kikkan Randall I knew going into the final race that I needed to finish in the top 15 to maintain my third place standing in the overall. There were several skiers starting a few seconds ahead and it was only 13 seconds to the top 10. So my strategy was to burn some energy early in the race to move up and have some skiers to race with. With 1.5km to go I made a move up the "mini-mordarbakan" to try and break the pack apart. I felt strong in the finish and nabbed 7th place at the line. It was an incredibly satisfying feeling to end the world cup season with a strong performance and really earn that 3rd place in the overall.
To finish in the top 3 overall is an accomplishment that I had really only dreamed about. I've been focusing on improving my performance steadily season after season and it's kind of funny to take a step back now and realize how far we've come. It was exciting to be standing so close to the big globe and I look forward to chasing that as the next challenge.
Matt Whitcomb, Women’s U.S. Ski Team Coach It’s unbelievable. It’s so cool that she had both distance and sprint podiums and be able to finish it with what’s rumored to be a podium time today [it was]. It’s just a great way to finish it, having one of her strongest races and performances to complement the other great results.
HELP THE TEAM U.S. Ski Team athletes rely on the support of the American public - the U.S. Ski Team has no government support. It's a year out to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games with 12 months of vital preparation ahead. If you believe in helping athletes achieve their goals, click here to support the team.