Kikkan Randall skates up a hill during the prologue at World Cup Finals in Falun. (Getty Images/AFP-Jonathan Nackstrand)
FALUN, Sweden (March 16) - Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) led a strong U.S. women's push in the 2.2k prologue event in Falun at World Cup Finals. Randall was seventh with Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) eighth and Liz Stephen 13th. Randall now stands fifth in the Finals mini-tour after the opening sprint in Stockholm Wednesday and Friday's prologue. Marit Bjoergen of Norway won the women's race with Canadian Alex Harvey taking the men's.
Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) was seventh to lead three U.S. women into the top 13 in the World Cup Finals prologue in Falun.
Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) was eighth and Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) 13th
The course featured a massive hill climb up Mördarbacken, or "murderbacken" as the athletes called it. Conditions were warm but a salted course held up well.
Randall now stands fifth in the Finals mini-tour.
Charlotte Kalla of Sweden was second to close the gap to just three points on Randall who is holding onto fourth in the World Cup overall rankings.
Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) was 30th in the men's 3.3k
Action continues Saturday in Falun with men's 15k and women's 10k mass starts
QUOTES Kikkan Randall My skis were awesome today. I'm pretty satisfied.
The hill climb is a pretty fun hill to ski. It changes grades a couple of times and it's packed with fans and then gets nice and steep at the top. But I felt good through that part so I could power through the top and know that there was an exciting downhill waiting for you on the other side.
I tried to think of the first half of the race as just wanting to shift gears – getting into a little higher of a gear as I went. I started off a little more conservative as I would than in a sprint but then build the pace up the uphill. And I felt like it worked just great because I had good energy to make a good punch at the end.
Jessie Diggins It felt really good. The skis were really fast. The hill is really hard to keep your tempo up it just kind of pitches up. I feel like maybe there were a few places where I could have tucked a little lower, or just not rocked back on my heels. But I feel like I gave it everything I had. It was really cool to try because I've always heard about the "murderbacken" [Mördarbacken] and how's it's the demon hill. So it was really cool to just be here and give it a try and race against such amazing people.
Liz Stephen I was really psyched for today because this is a big hill and if any prologue course is going to be good for me, it's one with a hill like this. I wanted to go out and go as hard as I possibly could. It's one lap so you can't blow up and if you do it's like you're going to go just as slow as if you didn't blow up. I just wanted to go really hard and see if I could get a top-10 or top-15 today. Doing a few hill climbs this year has helped. I think I skied well. I felt good and I still have some energy in the tank for the next couple of days.