Kikkan Randall, shown here after her sprint win in Drammen, Norway last season, had a career best distance finish in the Sjusjoen opener. (Getty Images)
SJUSJOEN, Norway (Nov. 19) – The U.S. Ski Team's Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) scored a career best non-sprint finish as the FIS Cross Country World Cup opened in Sjusjoen. Randall, who was third in the season-long World Cup sprint standings last year, was eighth in the opening 10k freestyle technique race. Liz Stephen (Montpelier, VT) matched her career best in 18th. Norway's Marit Bjoergen won the women's 10k while Swede Johan Olsson won the men's 15k. The World Cup openers were moved to Sjusjoen, near the 1994 Olympic city of Lillehammer, because of low early season snow in Beitostolen. The weekend continues Sunday with relays.
Career best non-sprint World Cup finish for Randall in 8th
Liz Stephen matches career best World Cup finish in 18th
Kris Freeman 55th to lead U.S. men
Kikkan Randall The plan going into today was to just put a bib on and race, and not think too much about it. Both Erik (my coach) and I looked at this first race as a chance to get the engine going and test out a faster pace from the start. All I wanted to do was start hard and try to maintain it.
I did end up starting my first lap pretty aggressively. The course was deceptively hard because although the hills weren't so long, there really wasn't a lot of rest out there, you had to be working the whole time. The snow was really fast and I think our skis were incredible today. A little icy and hard to balance in places but overall the snow was in great shape considering the lack of natural stuff!
Results wise I wanted to be close to or a little ahead of where I was at this point last season, knowing that I usually get stronger as I race. So it's nice to be ahead of that goal, and right in where I would like to be racing the whole season.
I had a feeling that my summer and fall preparation had gone really well this year and so it's nice to get the confirmation that those inklings were correct! Since we don't have nice lap times to compare with like in running on the track, it's always hard to know where you're at until you race.
Great to see Liz (Stephen) and Holly (Brooks) ski strong today as well. Really bodes well for our relay tomorrow and we're all psyched!!
Matt Whitcomb Kikkan and Liz were each happy with their races today. It was a career best distance race for Kikkan. She was only 25 seconds out of the medals. Liz tied her best from La Clusaz last season as she was just 18 seconds out of top 10.
We have some exciting options for relay teams right now. Relays are a big focus for this team and I know these girls take a lot of pride in their teammates and skiing hard for one another.