All 2012 FIS World Cup Finals coverage is brought to you through the generous support of Fischer Sports USA, proud sponsors of Kikkan Randall, 2012 overall Sprint Cup Champion.
STOCKHOLM, Sweden – The US qualified two and Canada six as North America advance eight skiers to the heats in Stockholm.
Kikkan Randall, the lone American woman to advance said her double pole felt good but in striding she “wasn’t skiing technically as well as I would like.”
Her energy is good, however, and she was happy with her ski choice despite a short testing window in the hour before the start.
Canadian Lenny Valjas, who barely squeaked in, placing 30th, .03 ahead of 31st wasn’t overly ocnfident in his choice to double pole.
“I felt pretty good. It was tough to decide between double pole and stride,” Valjas said. “I ‘m still not sure if I made the right call.”
At that point, there were many men yet to come, so Valjas, who placed second in the Drammen city sprint a week ago, did not know he would advance.
Regardless, he had already decided to switch to classic if he did move through.
His goal? To get back on the podium.
“It is a pretty good feeling to be on the podium and I’m hoping I can stride my way back to the final today,” Valjas told FasterSkier.
Andy Newell (USA) qualified 16th and also chose to double pole. He was fine with that decision, but made a mistake in track choice, picking a slower sun-soaked one.
He moved on anyway, and hadn’t yet decided whether he would stride or double pole.
The decision, he said, would be made in part based on who else was in his heat. A group of double polers would likely result in a fast time and more potential for lucky losers, but double poling with striders could mean trouble on the final hill
Devon Kershaw, currently second in the overall World Cup, advanced in 20th, and was on skate gear as well.
Like Newell this worked well for him, but he didn’t feel he skied the course to his best ability.
He was out of the tracks on the flat down by the water to pick up a little more speed in the sun, and hit the final climb on the far left where the track was shaded by the course fence.
Heats start at 3:45.
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Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.