Kikkan Randall, shown here in Saturday's snowy 10k, went down hard in a crash just after the start of Sunday's World Cup sprint finals. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom)
ROGLA, Slovenia (Dec. 18) - FIS Cross Country World Cup leader Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) set the pace in the opening heats but went down hard in a start crash that took her out of Sunday's finals, finishing sixth. Norway's Maiken Caspersen Falla, who challenged Randall hard in the semifinals, won her first World Cup while Dario Cologna of Switzerland won the men's.
Four Americans qualified into the heats including Kikkan Randall, Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT), Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) and Andy Newell (Aspen, CO).
Randall maintained her World Cup sprint lead, as well as fourth in the overall ranking.
It was the first time Sargent made the heats, going out in the quarter finals.
Andy Newell qualified 10th but went out in quarterfinals.
Simi Hamilton survived as the top lucky loser in quarterfinals but lost out in a photo finish in semifinals and did not advance.
QUOTES Kikkan Randall Yeah, kind of an unlucky day. Just got to see some footage of the final. Still not quite sure what happened but it looks like Korostelva's pole or ski just nipped the tip of my ski at the wrong time, causing my legs to split and down I went. I tried to get up right away and then my pole broke. I kept chasing for a while hoping maybe there would be a tangle up and I could get back in it but unfortunately the course was too short and fast and I couldn't get back in the race.
It was a real bummer because I was feeling strong again and had skied well in the quarters and semis. I know I could have been strong in the finish! But hey, that's sprint racing! It's still great to know that I felt strong today and I get to keep the red jersey over Christmas!
Awesome to be joined in the rounds by Ida, Simi and Andy today. Simi had a great day, first time in the semis. And of course it was great to see our North American buddy Chandra take the silver!
Really looking forward to the Christmas break now. It's been a really fun first period but having raced everything, a little rest and recovery will be good. We've got an awesome crew going to Ramsau for the holiday and my husband is here, so it's going to be a home away from home Christmas!!
Simi Hamilton I am super fired up with how today went. I knew that the qualifier would go well because of the nature of the course. The technical corners and short length suited me well and I am again feeling 100% healthy after a bit of a battle with some illnesses.
I am probably most encouraged with how my energy felt in the quarterfinals. World Cup sprint heats are usually super high paced and I've generally found myself red-lining in the quarters. So the fact that I qualified as the first lucky loser in the quarters and felt fairly comfortable doing it is a good sign. It means that both my fitness and sprint speed are at higher levels than they've been in the years past.
I'm really looking forward to the many sprint and distance race opportunities left this season.