Randall, Zimmerman Win Sprints In Arctic Weather

FasterSkierJanuary 8, 2004


FasterSkier coverage of US Nationals is <sponsored by Atomic skis.

RUMFORD, Maine (Jan. 8) – Leif Zimmerman (Bozeman, MT) shot past defending champ Carl Swenson (Park City, UT) in the final 100 meters despite Arctic wind gusts Thursday to win the men's sprint title at the Chevrolet U.S. Cross Country Championships while Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK) led all the way for the women's title. It was Randall's second U.S. title, Zimmerman's first.

On a day in which the qualifying round was postponed 90 minutes — to 11 a.m. — because of sub-zero cold and gusting winds, both Swenson and Rebecca Dussault (Gunnison, CO), who had won all three previous race for men and women, saw their victory strings cut. Zimmerman's win ended Swenson's bid for six consecutive titles; he won the last two a year ago at Black Mountain and the first three races this year.

“I think this might hold a candle to Alaska,” said Randall, the 2002 sprint champion. “It felt like skiing across Antarctica in that first straightaway.”

Swenson added, “It was a little slick and the wind was gusting so much it really threw us off in the last heat. It was really hard to keep our feet under us.”

In fact, Zimmerman said he and fellow U.S. Development Team member Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT), who led the qualifying round, got a break when Swenson was smacked by a burst of wind as they headed toward the final downhill. When they got the bottom, making a long righthand curve into the final 200 meters, Zimmerman made his move and pulled past Swenson and scrambled home first.

“It was a free-for-all…”


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