If Kikkan Randall had noticed that the laces on her ski boots had come loose in the middle of her sprint qualifying round, she probably would have had time to stop and re-tie them without losing a single spot on the result sheet.
On a cold morning at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Randall demonstrated the blazing speed that earned her second place at the World Ski Championships last year in the Czech Republic, winning the women’s qualifying round here by a whopping 8.35 seconds over APU’S Laura Valaas.
The rest of the women finished in a tighter group. Caitlin Compton was another second behind Valaas, with APU’s Holly Brooks another half-second back. For complete results for both men and women, visit FasterSkier’s Youtube page.
On the men’s side, Sun Valley’s Simi Hamilton cruised to a half-second win over the U.S. Ski Team’s Garrott Kuzzy, with Hamilton’s teammate Mike Sinnott far back in third, four and a half seconds behind.
With skis running fast over the hard-packed course, Steinbock Racing’s Chris Cook told FasterSkier that being quick off the line will be important in the heats.
“If you get the hole shot, you’re going to be able to control the race pretty well,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a lot of drag finishes here in the last 100 meters.”
Hamilton has demonstrated good speed in the qualifying rounds of sprint races on the SuperTour early this winter, but hasn’t been able to sustain it through the heats. He’ll be hard pressed to hold his lead against the lanky Kuzzy.
Updates from the heats to follow.
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.