World CupRandall, Kershaw Repeat as FS XC Skiers of the Year, Harvey Joins the Party

Avatar Topher SabotMay 20, 2011

FasterSkier Cross-Country Skier of the Year

Cross-Country Skier of the Year (women):

Kikkan Randall (USA/USST) Randall has now won the FasterSkier Cross-Country Skier of the Year Award every season since its inception, and 2011 is no different. The choice is easy, as Randall just keeps getting better. She is not just the best woman in North America, she is one of the best skiers in the world.

At this point in her career Randall is the best American woman ever to compete in the sport, and second only to Canadian Beckie Scott in North American history. Randall’s 2011 season was the best American campaign since Bill Koch back in the early 80’s.

The Anchorage, Alaska native won two World Cup races and finished on the podium two other times. Her efforts led her to a historic third place in the FIS Sprint Cup.

And while her top finishes came in her preferred event – skate sprinting, Randall continued to improve in classic sprinting and distance racing.

She placed 10th in the classic sprint in Stockholm, her first time in the semifinals in a European World Cup in a classic sprint, and regularly cracked the top-30 in longer races, including a career-best 11th in the 10km pursuit in Lahti.

Add in the a 21st in her Tour de Ski, and Randall ended the season ranked 10th in the overall World Cup, another American record.

A full international schedule kept Randall plenty busy, but she did find some time for late season domestic racing.

She won every event at the SuperTour Finals in Sun Valley, including the 30km US National Championship.

The only disappointment came at World Championships. Fresh off a victory the weekend before in the Drammen, Norway World Cup, Randall entered the Championship skate sprint as the favorite. But she tangled with another skier on the big downhill, crashing in her quarterfinal.

But the professionalism with which Randall handled the disappointment may have been more impressive than a medal. While another skier in the same heat, who also crashed, cried and cursed in the finish area, Randall maintained her composure.

She took time to talk to the press in the mixed zone, thoughtfully answering all questions. While she later admitted that the sprint day was a huge challenge to recover from, her public handling of the situation should be a model for young skiers everywhere.

And she bounced back to finish the season with some incredible results, including the classic sprint 10th and the distance 11th mentioned above.

While there are plenty of strong up and comers in the US, and the Canadian women are skiing very well, Randall is one of those special athletes who come along rarely – especially in this sport. Like Beckie Scott’s great run earlier in the decade, we should enjoy every one of Randall’s accomplishments while they occur, and not take anything for granted.

Kikkan Randall battling Maiken Caspersen Falla in the Drammen Sprint.

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Cross-Country Skier of the Year (men):

Devon Kershaw (CAN/CNST) and Alex Harvey (CAN/CNST) Like Randall, Kershaw has now been a winner of this award every year, though last year he shared it with teammate Ivan Babikov and American Andy Newell.

We have another joint ceremony this time around. When Kershaw and Harvey won gold in the team sprint at World Championships, the idea of picking one over the other became untenable.

The rest of the  season supports the dual recipients. While the gold was historic, and the obvious high point, the two Canadian men combined for a magical year.

Kershaw finally stayed healthy for an entire Tour de Ski, and the rest of the ski world paid a price. He won one race, finished second in two others, and took a third as well. He ended the Tour in seventh and finished the season ranked eight in the overall World Cup.

In addition to the gold in the team sprint, Kershaw also placed ninth in the 30km pursuit at World Championships.

Harvey also skied extremely well at the Tour de Ski with four top ten results and a tenth place overall.

He was tenth in the overall World Cup standings and had an excellent World Championships. He took fifth in the 50km skate, seventh in the skate sprint and 12th in the pursuit along with the gold in the team sprint.

He also placed a surprising second in the Drammen World Cup sprint just prior to Worlds.

Every race that one of this dominant duo entered presented an opportunity for a podium finish – a level of excitement in North American men’s skiing that we have not seen for quite some time.

Harvey and Kershaw (center) at the World Championship team sprint flower ceremony.

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Previous Winners:

2010
Kikkan Randall (USA)
Devon Kershaw (CAN)
Andy Newell (USA)
Ivan Babikov (CAN)

2009
Kikkan Randall (USA)
Devon Kershaw (CAN)

2008
Kikkan Randall (USA)
Devon Kershaw (CAN)

FasterSkier Awards 2011:

Rookie of the Year
Breakthrough Skier of the Year
Collegiate Skier of the Year
Adaptive Skier of the Year
Continental Skier of the Year
Biathlete of the Year
Nordic Combined Skier of the Year
Performance of the Year (cross-country, biathlon, nordic combined)
Cross-Country Skier of the Year

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Topher Sabot

Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.

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