The first World Cup sprint race of the 2010 season left the U.S. Ski Team (USST) with one strong result, but still looking for more.
FasterSkier caught up with USST Sprint Coach Chris Grover right after the race. He said that Andy Newell—who finished seventh—had a very strong day, dominating his quarterfinal heat and only just missing out on a spot in the finals after battling with the eventual winner, Ola Vigen Hattestad.
“He led most of his semifinal with Hattestad, but he had some big slips,” Grover said. “He lost some meters coming into the stadium and wasn’t able to make it up.”
For Kikkan Randall and Torin Koos, the USST’s other sprinters, the short course left them little margin for error, and both found themselves just out of the heats.
“They both feel like they’re really fit—they just technically made some missteps out there today,” Grover said. “In a short sprint, there’s no room for mistakes whatsoever.”
As for the rest of the team, Grover said that Kris Freeman had a good day—especially since he hadn’t contested a classic sprint in at least two years. And for Liz Stephen and Morgan Arritola, both finished in the same place as their bib numbers.
“They were just out there for experience,” Grover said. “The weren’t looking for any specific result.”
All of the US skiers will race in tomorrow’s 10/15km classic.
The USST’s sprinters will head to Dusseldorf, Germany, next weekend where they will contest an individual skate and a team sprint around short loop in the city. Newell, Koos, and Randall will all enter the individual sprint, while the men will join forces for the team sprint.
Grover said that Newell and Koos have the potential for a good result in the team event, as “they know a lot about racing” in Dusseldorf.
Randall, meanwhile, will only be able to do the individual race. Stephen, Randall’s normal counterpart in the team sprint, is better on hillier courses, Grover said—and the Dusseldorf loop is quite flat. Instead, Stephen will be training that weekend, and will presumably be back in action the next weekend in Davos.
Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for FasterSkier, who also covers city government for the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. You can follow him on twitter @nat_herz.