USSA names cross country World Champs team
World Championship silver medalist Kikkan Randall will lead the 2011 U.S. Cross Country World Championship Team to compete at Holmenkollen in Oslo beginning Feb. 24. Randall is one of 14 athletes named Wednesday (Jan 12.) to compete in the biennial Championships.
The International Ski Federation's 2011 Nordic World Ski Championships are especially important this year, taking place in the heart of nordic skiing and in its most prestigious venue, Holmenkollen. The Feb. 24-Mar. 6 Championships will captivate the heart of Norway, the birthplace of nordic skiing and home of the sport's most passionate fans.
Randall will be joined by U.S. Ski Team veterans Andy Newell and Kris Freeman, who are all expected to be in the medal hunt in Oslo.
"We will be going to Norway with a group of athletes who have all earned this honor with strong performances this season," said Nordic Program Director John Farra. "It's a special honor for each of these athletes to be able to compete in Norway."
Among the 14 athletes named to the Team are nine Olympians as well as several U.S. champions. Randall, who is currently ranked third in the World Cup sprint standings, will lead the group with the Championships opening with her best event, a free technique sprint. Olympian Newell, who sits in seventh in the World Cup sprint standings, will also be going head-to-head with the world's best sprinters as he looks to earn his first World Championship medal.
"We are naming a Team for Oslo blending veterans and promising young talent. And everyone is skiing fast," said Head Coach Chris Grover. "We've had a great start to the World Cup season and had strong performances by athletes at our U.S. Championships in Maine."
The recently-concluded U.S. Cross Country Championships in Rumford, ME were an important element of team selection. Veteran Torin Koos led with two titles, while Olympians Liz Stephen, Holly Brooks and Lars Flora , along with Sadie Bjornsen, Jessie Diggins and Tad Elliott all raced their way to U.S. titles and spots on the Team.
While Randall and Newell will be among favorites in the sprints, Freeman, ranked 14th in World Cup distance standings, will have his sights set on the 15k classic. The three-time Olympian has finished one spot out of the medals twice in the event at World Championships (2003, 2009) and is hoping third time is a charm.
"This Oslo World Championship team clearly represents the future of U.S. cross country ski racing," said Grover. "We have a great combination of athletes who will be looking to make their first mark on the World Championship stage and those who are in the hunt for a medal at Holmenkollen."
The USA athletes will compete in Oslo over the course of 11 days with 10 races. Event techniques, classic or free, will flip from those used at the Olympics in Vancouver. The Championships will close March 6 with the men's 50k free.
U.S. teams for ski jumping and nordic combined will be named next week.
2011 U.S. Cross Country Ski World Championships Team
(both hometown and ski club indicated)
* Indicates Olympian
** Indicates student in U.S. Ski Team partnership with Westminster College
Tad Elliott (2/7/1988; Durango, CO) Central Cross Country
Lars Flora (1/6/1978; Anchorage) Alaska Pacific University *
Kris Freeman (10/14/1980; Andover, NH) Andover Outing Club *
Simi Hamilton (5/14/1987; Aspen, CO) Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation *
Noah Hoffman (8/1/1989; Aspen, CO) Aspen Valley Ski Club **
Torin Koos (7/19/1980; Wenatchee, WA) Methow Olympic Development *
Andy Newell (11/30/1983; Shaftsbury, VT) Stratton Mountain School *
Morgan Arritola (5/13/1986; Fairfield, ID) Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation *
Holly Brooks (4/17/1982; Anchorage) Alaska Pacific University *
Sadie Bjornsen (11/21/1989; Methow, WA) Alaska Pacific University
Jessie Diggins (8/26/1991; Afton, MN) Central Cross Country
Kikkan Randall (12/31/1982; Anchorage) Alaska Pacific University *
Ida Sargent (1/25/1988; Orleans, VT) Craftsbury Green Racing Project
Liz Stephen (1/12/1987; East Montpellier, VT) Burke Mountain Academy * **
2011 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships Cross Country Schedule
Holmenkollen Ski Stadium
Thurs., Feb. 24 - Men's and women's free sprint
Sat., Feb. 26 - Women's 15k pursuit
Sun., Feb 27 - Men's 30k pursuit
Mon., Feb. 28 - Women's 10k classic
Tues., Mar. 1 - Men's 15k classic
Wed., Mar. 2 - Men's and women's team classic sprint
Thurs., Mar. 3 - Women's 4x5k relay
Fri., Mar. 4 - Men's 4x10k relay
Sat., Mar. 5 - Women's 30k free
Sun., Mar. 6 - Men's 50k free