Led by Kikkan Randall in 16th place, the US qualified two athletes for the sprint heats, and Canada, four. Randall was 7.73 seconds in back of the leader, Alena Prochazkova of Slovakia. Prochazkova’s time of 3:15.10 was 1.28 seconds ahead of the second finisher, Justyna Kowalczyk (POL). Arianna Follis (ITA) was another two seconds back in 3rd.
Morgan Smyth was the only other US qualifier, just squeaking through in 30th place. Smyth edged Finland’s Mona-Lisa Mlavalehto by .11 seconds. Rosei Brennan, in 35th, was the third American finisher. She was 2.5 seconds out of qualifying.
Canada was led by Perianne Jones in 17th, just .15 seconds behind Randall. Jones was closely followed by veteran Sara Renner in 18th. This is Jones’ second trip to the heats this season – she advanced in Dusseldorf, ultimately finishing 28th.
Shayla Swanson, has guaranteed her best-ever World Cup result, qualifying in 24th. She has never finished inside the top 40 in eight World Cup starts.
Daria Gaiazova rounded out the Canadian qualifiers in 29th, +13.69 seconds.
American Laura Valaas, the runnerup to Randall at US Nationals in this event, finishes 57th out of 58th, 25.03 seconds. It is unclear whether she crashed or just struggled today.
The course appeared challenging with significant climbs – definitely not a pure speed course.