DAVOS, Switzerland – World Cup sprint champion Kikkan Randall finished second in the cross country skate sprint on Sunday after a fierce head-to-head battle with Norway’s Marit Bjoergen in the last stretch, which came down to a photo finish. The 1.5k sprint was won by only an inch or two as Bjoergen timed a spectacular lunge to steal away the victory.
“While I really wanted to win here today, this close finish is really good for my motivation and training focus from now until Sochi. I doubt Bjoergen and I will line up again before then so I have to work hard and be ready to ski faster on the finish stretch next time,” said Randall.
Randall started just to the left of Bjoergen and made a brilliant move at the start to skate ahead of Bjoergen and take the lead into the first corner. Then two Swedes made a move ahead and set the initial pace with Randall settling back into fourth.
Randall made a somewhat dangerous move ahead of Stina Nilsson of Sweden while coming through the stadium at the halfway mark. The track narrowed as she passed and she ran out of room, tangling skis with Nilsson and almost falling. But she squeezed ahead and then the Swedes dropped back.
“It’s a tough lane that Kikkan chose, to come inside there as the course bends left a little bit. So definitely, as it was happening, we saw it happening. It would have been nice to have a little more room there, but at the same time, rubbing is racing, and I’m really proud of how Kikkan was able to sustain a few taps and blows out there,” said head coach Matt Whitcomb.
Bjoergen and fastest qualifier Denise Hermann of Germany then moved up behind Randall. Randall kept a torrid pace up the hill into the stadium, when she and Bjoergen went head-to-head in the final sprint with Hermann coming up hard behind. Sunday’s race put Randall first in the World Cup sprint standings, six points over Bjoergen, and fifth in the overall standings.
Four U.S. women cracked the top 30 with Sophie Caldwell ninth, Jessie Diggins 12th and Sadie Bjornsen 27th.
“It’s awesome to have the team ski so well today, too,” added Randall. “It was a super tight qualification so it was awesome to get four girls in the top 30. I almost thought we might have more than one American in the final. Just a little more experience for those girls and they’ll be right in there.”
In the men’s sprint, Simi Hamilton took the top spot for the U.S. in 14th while Norway’s Anders Gloeersen won the race. Next the World Cup moves to Asiago, Italy for men’s and women’s classic and team sprints Dec. 21-22.
Release courtesy of USSA