Kikkan Randall (USA) finished 37th, an improvement on last week's 44th in the same event. More importantly, Randall went from 3:22 behind the winner to 1:59 back. Randall, who has seen significant international success as a sprinter, is showing she could develop into a competitive distance skier as well.
Finland's Virpi Kuitunen, who has not raced since the opening weekend in October due to illness, showed no ill effects due to the long lay-off. She posted an 11 second victory over Norway's Vibeke Skofterud. Skofterud held the advantage at 6.6km, but Kuitunen showed the form that allowed her to dominate the women's circuit last season, putting an impressive 22 seconds on the Norweigan over the last 3.4 kilometers. A tie for third added both another Finn and Norweigan to the podium. Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) and Kristin Stoermer Steria (NOR) finished with an identical time of 27:50.8 – 23.5 seconds behind the Kuitunen.
Said Kuitunen, “I started slowly but I felt good. I’m very, very satisfied with my victory, because I didn’t know where I was after my illness. It is amazing to come back with a victory. ”
Skofterud blamed a mental lapse for losing her lead – “I felt that I started slow but that I had good technique. That was my goal – to have continuously good technique. The last kilometer, I think, it was more mental that I lost so many seconds to Virpi. But I’m very happy to be the leader of the distance World Cup ranking.”
Randall finished one place ahead of Canadian Olympic medalist Sara Renner who is coming back from a year off to have a child. This was Renner's first World Cup start of the season. She skied a consistent race, passing each checkpoint in 37th before finishing 38th. Randall, on the other hand, started slowly and moved up throughout the race.
– World Cup Leader Marit Bjoergen (NOR) did not race due to illness
– Russia and Italy were unable to crack the top ten with top finishes of 11th and 15th respectively
– As in the men's race, the host Swiss did not have a strong day with a top finish of 24th
The World Cup continues tomorrow with a 4x5km relay