SESTRIERE, Italy — The U.S. cross-country squad took to the trails in the relay events today at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games.
The men’s team of Chris Klebl (Heber City, Utah), Mike Crenshaw (Boulder, Colo.) and 2006 Paralympic double-gold medalist Steve Cook (Salt Lake City, Utah) finished sixth with a time of 40:58.0
The gold medal went to Norway, who finished with a time of 39:58.5. Russia I took the silver medal in 40:00.1, and Ukraine claimed the bronze medal with a time of 40:06.9.
Klebl, who competes in the sitting class, led the relay off with a 3.75K classic leg, coming in ninth with a split of 11:36.8. Crenshaw took it from there, skiing the 5K classic style leg. He had a powerful race, kicking it in on the second lap to make up ground and brought the team into seventh place. Crenshaw’s 5K split was 15:48.8. Cook, racing the 5K skate leg, was the anchor. He passed the French team to put the U.S. squad into sixth place. After battling back and forth with Russia II anchor, Kirill Mikhaylov, Cook maintained position and crossed the finish line with a 13:32.4 split, and the overall team time of 40:58.0, for sixth place.
Overall, Cook had the third-fastest skating time for the day and Crenshaw had the fourth-fastest classic time. Following the race, the U.S. team was impressed with the competition and pleased with their finish.
â€œIt was a tough race,â€ Cook said. â€œThere was quite a bit of a gap for us to make up if we wanted to win a medal. Honestly, we did as well as we could have. I think each of us gave it everything we had, and that just shows how deep the other teams are. It was fun, team events are always a lot of fun and very competitive.â€
Crenshaw, 51, had a similar response. â€œThese relays are great, but they’re just so fast. The 5K is short. If we had more distance, I think we would have crept up there a little bit. We made up a lot of ground and put it all on the line,â€ he said.
The women’s team of Monica Bascio (Evergreen, Colo.), Candace Cable (Truckee, Calif.) and Kelly Underkofler (St. Paul, Minn.) finished seventh in the women’s race. They finished the 3 x 2.5K course with a total time of 27:36.8.
Bascio was the lead leg, racing sit-ski classic style. With a split time of 9:22.5, she came into the exchange area in sixth place. Cable was next, also racing sit-ski, classic style. She pulled off a 10:26.9 split, and was in seventh place when she reached the exchange, leaving Underkofler as the anchor. Underkofler, a standing athlete, skied the freestyle leg in 7:47.4 and crossed the finish line in seventh place.
The gold medal in the women’s relay was won by Russia, with a time of 23:31.4. Belarus claimed the silver medal in 24:10.1, and Ukraine took bronze in 24:54.5.
It was the fifth race of the week for Underkofler, who is enjoying her second Paralympic Winter Games.
When asked how she felt about the race, she responded, â€œIt was fun. The relays are great because they have so much energy and you feel the team working together. It would have been nice to do a little better, but there were some really fast girls out there. I am really impressed with the competition. It is a really tough field of athletes.â€
Just two days of racing remain for the U.S. Nordic team. The long distance cross country races are next, with the men’s and women’s sitting events on Saturday and the men’s and women’s standing events on Sunday.
Results/Schedule of Events for U.S. Nordic Ski Team
Women’s 12.5K Standing (Kelly Underkofler, 4th place)
Women’s 10K Sitting (Monica Bascio, 6th place)
Men’s 5K Standing (Steve Cook, 1st place/Gold Medal; Dan Perkins, 26th place; Mike Crenshaw, 28th place)
Men’s 5K Sitting (Bob Balk, 11th place; Chris Klebl, 23rd place; Greg Mallory, 24th place)
Women’s 5K Standing (Kelly Underkofler, 8th place)
Women’s 2.5K Sitting (Candace Cable, 8th place; Monica Bascio, 9th place)
Men’s 7.5K (Dan Perkins, 20th place)
Women’s 7.5K Standing (Kelly Underkofler, 7th place)
Women’s 7.5K Sitting (Monica Bascio, 6th place)
Men’s 10K Standing (Steve Cook 1st place/Gold Medal; Mike Crenshaw, 7th place; Dan Perkins, 16th place)
Men’s 10K Sitting (Chris Klebl, 18th place; Bob Balk, 20th place; Greg Mallory, 22nd place)
Women’s 10K Standing (Kelly Underkofler, 11th place)
Women’s 5K Sitting (Monica Bascio, 7th place; Candace Cable, 10th place)
Women’s Relay (3 x 2.5K: Monica Bascio, Candace Cable, Kelly Underkofler, 7th place)
Men’s Relay (1 x 3.75K + 2 x 5K: Chris Klebl, Mike Crenshaw, Steve Cook, 6th place)
Men’s 15K Sitting (Bob Balk, Chris Klebl, Greg Mallory)
Women’s 10K Sitting (Monica Bascio, Candace Cable)
Men’s 20K Standing (Steve Cook, Mike Crenshaw, Dan Perkins)
Women’s 15K Standing (Kelly Underkofler)