Marit Bjoergen, Kristin Stoemer Steira, Therese
Johaug and Vibeke Skofterud celebrate the win in
the women’s 4 x 5K relay in Sweden.
The U.S. fielded a women’s team, with Dartmouth senior Ida
Sargent making her first World Cup start, tagging off to Randall,
who posted the fourth fastest time. Third was Morgan Arritola, followed by Liz Stephen, who posted the seventh-quickest leg time
of 12: 24,70 and crossed the line a photo finish with Japan, moving
the U.S. up to 13th place with a time of 53:09.20.
Coach Pete Vordenberg said it was a fine day for both Randall
and Stephen. “Kikkan is picking up a step ahead of where she left
off last year,” he said. “And it’s really cool for Liz to have some
good races because last year was really tough. She can be really
Sweden won the men’s 4 x 10K event in 1:29:56.30.
For the U.S. men’s relay team, Sprinter Andy Newell ran the
scramble leg, finishing a strong 10th before handing off to Kris
Freeman. Storming through the competition with the third-fastest
leg time, Freeman put the Yanks into a solid fifth place. Noah Hoffman took over the third leg, only one spot off the pace for sixth
place. Chris Cook ran the anchor leg, and the total U.S. time was
1:33: 18.90, good for 17th place.
newcomer Chris Jespersen impressed with a fourth place.
“What a dream start this is,” said Hellner. “Keep in mind that I was
successful at home in front of an incredible audience; this awesome crowd was just overwhelming by wake of its energy.”
Kris Freeman led the American men with an eye-popping ninth-place result, just a scant 30 seconds behind Hellner. Noah Hoffman
of Aspen, Colo., who posted a superb early race sprint, finished in
31st place, just two seconds shy of scoring World Cup points.
U.S. Ski Team head coach Chris Grover was elated with the early
season results. “This is the best start to the season we have had
in the ten years I have been with the team,” he said. “We had three
athletes take World Cup points in this race, which has traditionally
been a tough one for us.”
On Sunday at Gaellivare, the Norwegian women dominated the 4
x 5K relay. The same quartet that won the gold in the relay in Van-
couver — Bjoergen, Kristin Stoemer Steira, Therese Johaug and
Vibeke Skofterud — won again,. Sweden was in second place, 30
Olympic champion and overall world cup winner Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland took the early lead, but it was simply all Norway
Kuusamo, Finland, Nov. 26-28
It sure was a cold one at Kuusamo.
Located above the Arctic Circle, it’s a mountainous, rolling area
with tough ski trails and a ski jump prone to turbulent winds, all set
a stone’s throw from a huge Finnish lake that makes the cold even
colder — replete with high humidity. And it’s the kind of wind that
goes right through you. It marked the only time this season that all
the nordic disciplines were together until Oslo in February.
Against the backdrop of another day of unrelenting cold temperatures (minus 19 degrees Celsius), the U.S. Ski Team’s Kris Freeman continued to turn in yet another solid result, finishing 12th in
the men’s 15K free technique handicap pursuit race. It was the
final event of this year’s “Ruka Triple” World Cup event, which
was won by Lukas Bauer of Croatia in a six-lap race on a 2.5K
Kikkan Randall again turned in the top U.S. performance in the
women’s 10K, finishing 19th, while Norway’s Therese Johaug took