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.
In a dominant display today, Kikkan Randall won the first ever World Cup for an American woman. She finished 2nd in qualifying and consistently distanced herself from the field in her heats. In the final, Randall came out of the pack on the climb and had a couple meters on Astrid Jacobson at the top. She held onto that advantage into the finishing lanes and crossed the line a ski length in front of Jacobson and Natalia Korosteleva of Russia. Randall looked explosive all day and stood out in the qualifying heats with her tempo and power of her stride. Even before the final there was a lot of buzz in the crowds about the American skier, and Randall was in a class of her own in the final. Obviously ecstatic, she said she really enjoys the Rybinsk course and felt this helped her today. The consensus was that the US also had outstanding skis, as both Randall and Andy Newell said they had rockets. In all of the heats, Newell and Randall skied away from their respective fields on the downhill. (Author’s note: There has been a lot of criticism by people posting on Krisfreeman.net the past two weeks regarding the US waxing. I would like to say that the US had noticeably superior skis, even in comparison to the Norwegians and Russians). The conditions were similar to yesterday, although slightly more humid and only -1C at race time.
When asked if she thought there was a benefit to competing against the Europeans outside their comfort zone, Randall said she thought that might have played some role and is therefore even more excited for Canmore. Randall, along with the rest of the US team, will not be competing in the Tour de Ski and will be looking toward the World Cup in Canmore for another top result.
She also echoed the sentiment expressed by all of the athletes this weekend that the Russian fans are unbelievably energetic and the resulting atmosphere was very motivating. The official estimate is at 35,000 fans over the two days of competition.
When asked about competing with Randall in the final, Jacobson said, â€œI recovered well from yesterday, but I didn’t have a chance against Kikkan in the final.â€ However, Jacobson’s second was good enough to earn her the overall World Cup leader’s bib.
Chandra Crawford (CAN), the defending Olympic Gold Medalist in the sprint, qualified third today and looked to have advanced from her heat, however, she was subsequently disqualified. She finished 16th on the day.
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.
Kikkan in 1st Round
Kikkan in 1st Round