Often the full story behind a race does not come out until well after the official results have been published. Coming off a successful day of sprinting the weekend before in Finland where Andy Newell was seconds and Kikkan Randall was 5th, hopes were high for the classic sprint in downtown Drammen. At the least, the narrow twisty streets would make for an action packed day of racing.
Unfortunately, the first starter for the day, Randall, ran into immediate trouble. One of her velcro pole straps came undone, forcing her to ski most of the race with tightly gripping the pole in her fist. Randall missed out on qualifying for the heats by less than half a second.
You can read her full account of the race at http://blogs.fasterskier.com/kikkanrandall
The men's race got off to a more promising start – with both Newell and teammate Torin Koos advancing to the heats. After his podium finish last weekend, Newell expressed his goal of showing the Norweigans he could double-pole with the best of them – he was now in a position to do so.
He never really had a shot, tripping less than a third of the way into his quarterfinal. “Andy fell when his wax caught and he was down maybe 300 meters into the course,” US Sprint Coach Chris Grover said. “He was actually able to catch back up to the leaders but he faded at the end because he had spent so much energy getting back.”
Koos had the best day of the three – battling to the line in his quarterfinal he was edged by the smallest of margins for the final “lucky loser” spot in the semis. “The guy who was third in his heat was the lucky loser and there was probably only a ski boot length between the two,” said Grover. “He had a good round, but just narrowly missed advancing. It was disappointing given how our guys have skied in the past few weeks.”
The top 30 skiers make the sprint finals out of the qualifying rounds, which are six-skier heats. The top two skiers in each round move on as well as the two “lucky losers,” the fastest two sprint times across each round not in the top two in his or her heat
“It started off as a good day, but we had a bit of bad luck,” Grover said. “The Drammen sprint is always a challenge because some people do it in skate gear and other people use classic technique. It's really tough to get through in Drammen.”
World Cup action continues tomorrow with the famed Holmenkollen Ski Festival in Oslo, Norway. The men will race 50km, the women 30km in the freestyle technique. Kris Freeman and Garrott Kuzzy will start for the US.
Complete Coverage of the women's sprints in Drammen:
Kuitunen Wins Drammen Sprint
Complete Coverage of the men's sprints in Drammen:
Norway Takes 13 of 15 Spots in Drammen