Three-time Olympian Carl Swenson (Park City, UT) was the top U.S. finisher in 40th in Sunday's Cross Country 30km Pursuit.
Swenson finished the course in 1:21:08.0, 4:07.2 behind Dementiev. Andrew Johnson (Greensboro, VT) was 43rd (1:21:16.8), James Southam (Anchorage, AK) was just behind in 44th (1:22:05.8) and Lars Flora (Anchorage, AK) was 49th (1:22:31.2).
â€œIt was tough, I would have liked to have been up with the lead pack but I think I can build on this and move up as the week goes on,” said Swenson. “I’m really looking at the 50k at the end of the Olympics.â€
â€œIt’s a great course, perfect conditions,” said Swenson. “But it’s the Olympics and everybody wants to be there in a big pack, so it was pretty messy there at the beginning. When the crashes start coming, all you can do is stay light on your feet and keep looking ahead. I managed to move around three crashes in the first two kilometers.â€
Southam, competing at his first Olympics, got caught up in some traffic and crashes very near the start of the race.
“The course was good, the corners on the classic part were a little tight,” said Southam. “People were getting thrown and there were a lot of crashes out there. There were probably four crashes in the first lap. There were about three different crashes in front of me. I caught my shin in a guy’s armpit and I went down. It was a rough first 200 meters.â€
In the first cross country race of the Torino Olympics, Rebecca Dussault (Gunnison, CO) was the top American finisher in 48th in the 15km Pursuit.
Dussault crossed the finish line in 47:53.7, 5:05 behind Smigun. Lindsey Weier (Mahtomedi, MN) was 55th in 48:45.0, Abigail Larson (Bozeman, MT) came in 56th in 48:47.5 and Lindsay Williams (Hastings, MN) placed 62nd in 50:49.7.
All four American women are competing in their first Olympics.
â€œI love the course,” said Dussault. “The climbs are hard and the downhills are so fast. Most of the course I can make up time on but the stadium laps just killed me. I love the race but I hang on by the skin of my teeth in the classic and I pour it on in the skate and I always make up places in the skate.â€
â€œThe conditions were perfect and I had awesome skis,” said Weier. “The classic leg was awesome. I felt pretty good on that. I got a little tired on the second half of the skate. The course was hard but that’s what I expected. I felt like I was right in there during the classic portion. It’s a big climb but there is a lot of recovery on the other side.â€
“I was so good at the beginning of the season and the change (in technique) was perfect,” said Smigun. I have been skiing for more than 10 years but every time I make a change it is not easy, but this was perfect.”