Liberec, Czech Republic – Arianna Follis (ITA) won the women’s 1.3km freestyle sprint at the World Championships. American Kikkan Randall finished second, just ahead of Pirjo Muranen (FIN).
Follis, who posted the second fastest qualifying time behind Russian Natalia Matveeva, claimed her firs World Championship Gold Medal. She also won a bronze in 2005 in Sapporo.
“It is an incredible day. I have a gold medal and I am the World Champion! I used the same tactics to stay second or first and then in the last uphill go faster and faster to finish. My husband prepared my skis and all servicemen worked very hard and did good job. It is a nice track here, very hard, very tough. Especially the last uphill was difficult. I am going to race tomorrow and also two others races.”
Randall looked strong throughout, but Follis had more left in the finish stretch. Muranen finished only .1 seconds behind Randall, but that time makes the race seem closer than it was as she was not in a position to challenge the American.
“The medal means a lot for me,” said Muranen. “It has been a long time since I had an individual triumph – it was in Lahti in 2001. A lot has happened during these years. I am very proud of this medal!”
Randall became the first American woman to win a World Championship medal in cross-country skiing.
“It feels amazing. I’ve known in the back of my heart all along that it was possible,” Randall said. “Considering where I was eight months ago – in the hospital with a blood clot – it feels incredible. I’m just so happy.”
Randall’s teammates Liz Stephen, Laura Valaas, and Morgan Smyth finished 40, 42 and 53 respectively. Stephen was just over two seconds outside the top-30.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.