Editor's Note: FasterSkier's roving reporter Tucker Sawin is reporting from Rybinsk, Russia this weekend, giving us first-hand information on the World Cup Cross-Country races.
Andy Newell had an outstanding day today, unfortunately, a tangle-up at the top of the hill in the semifinals robbed him of the chance to produce a matching result. Newell qualified 10th, but went on to dominate his quarterfinal heat, exploding out of the pack mid-way up the climb. In the semis, Newell once again accelerated out of the field at the base of the climb, but became tangled with the skiers behind him as he crested the hill and went from 2nd to 5th. When asked what happened, Newell said it was just bad luck and that he didn’t fall down completely but had to put his hands down, which cost him a chance to advance. In the B-final, Newell completely outclassed the field, winning by open snow and never being challenged after the first 10 meters of the climb. Newell and Justin Wadsworth were clearly disappointed to see Andy robbed of a chance in the A-finals on a day when he had great fitness and skis. However, Randall’s success made this disappointment much easier to bear. Speculating on his and Randall’s strong skiing today, Newell said the course suited Americans with its steep uphill and â€œscreaming fastâ€ downhill.
In the A-final, Norwegian Anders Gloerson, in his first World Cup outside of Norway, took a surprise win over fellow Norwegians Ola Vigen Hattestad and Oystein Pettersen. Gloerson qualified 1st and looked strong all day. Although he was only in 3rd position entering the stadium in the finals, Gloerson overpowered the field in the straightaway and took the win by a meter or so. Gloerson said his success demonstrates how tough it is to qualify for the Norwegian World Cup squad; if you are good enough to qualify, then you are good enough to win a Word Cup. Finshing fourth today following a win yesterday, Tor Arne Hetland moved into a close second in the World Cup Overall. He is only 26 points behind Axel Teichmann for the lead.
Sean Crooks was the only other North American to qualify (19th) for the heats and was eliminated after being put in a brutal heat against Hetland and four Swedish skiers. He ended up 22nd overall. Drew Goldsack and Torin Koos finished 40th and 41st respectively, but were only 0.7 seconds from qualifying. Chris Cook (46th), Devon Kershaw (53rd), Lars Flora (63rd) and Kris Freeman (66th) rounded out the North American contingent.
The author is a recent graduate of Williams College where he was a four year member of the ski team. He currently lives in Moscow, Russia doing a 5-month internship.