Justyna Kowalczyk and Dario
Cologna win Tour de Ski, but
Kikkan Randall’s 21st-place
finish is still a triumph for
By Tim Reynolds
Photos by GEPA
The Tour de Ski has become the premier event on the nordic World Cup.
After eight stages, two rest days, and more than 60
kilometers of total racing at five venues in Germany
and Italy, Kikkan Randall became the first American
to complete the Tour de Ski. She crested the finish
line at the top of the Alpe Cermis in 21st place overall
after almost three hours of elapsed racing time in the
previous 10 days.
“It just felt pretty good to lay in the snow after all
that,” she said after the final hill climb.
Randall headlined a successful debut campaign for
the U.S. Ski Team, which sent three athletes and a full coaching and
service staff to the Tour de Ski, now in its fifth year and the premier
event of the World Cup circuit. Kris Freeman finished the Tour in
28th overall while Andy Newell, struggling with the distance races,
dropped out after the fifth stage.
“Overall, I’m happy with the performance of the U.S. Team,” said
head Coach Chris Grover. “We had the right three athletes here
and all stayed healthy through the whole Tour, including Andy who
stopped after Stage 5. We were able to fight each day with good energy and the logistics of travel worked well, which is a big challenge
in an event of this nature.”
Grover pointed to Andy’s 14th place finish in the opening stage, a
3.75K freestyle prologue, as one of the highlights of the Tour. The
result counted as Newell’s career-first World Cup points in a distance
event. Freeman, a distance specialist, was quick to counter Andy’s
switch-hitting by qualifying for the heats in both sprint stages in the
Tour, a career first for him as well.
While Freeman impressed on some days, his overall standing was
a disappointment. Bad skis in the penultimate stage of the Tour, a
20K classic mass start with significant opportunities to pick up bonus
seconds at intermediary sprints; and a rough day in stage six, the
35K pursuit from Cortina to Toblach, dropped him out of the top 20 to
33rd place overall. He came back nonetheless in the final stage climb
up the Alpe Cermis, posting his top finish of the Tour with a seventh
place in one of the most brutal races on the World Cup circuit.