SZKLARSKA POREBA, Poland – World Cup champion Kikkan Randall topped every one of her heats Saturday (Jan. 18) to take the victory in the Szlarska Poreba World Cup sprints. It was the second win in a week for Randall, moving her up from third to second in the World Cup sprint standings just behind Denise Herrmann of Germany, who took second in today’s race.
“The focus of the season has always been on getting in peak shape for the Olympics,” said Randall. “We planned to use these last two races and the next races in Toblach to sharpen my race gear and the plan seems to be working just as we had hoped. I’m really happy to be feeling healthy and strong with just three weeks to go now.”
Five U.S. women qualified for the sprints with one going into each quarterfinal heat, including Jessie Diggins, Sophie Caldwell, Ida Sargent, and Liz Stephen. Randall, Caldwell and Diggins won their quarterfinal heats, while Sargent finished 13th and Stephen 15th. Randall finished the semifinal in first ahead of Caldwell in third, who didn’t advance and ultimately finished seventh.
Diggins advanced in third as the lucky loser in her semifinal. She spent most of the race in fourth, strategically tucked into Kikkan’s slipstream, but coming into the final corner she crashed and finished fifth.
“It was really fun to have so many teammates in the rounds today. The energy level on the whole team just jumps up a few notches and it’s great to be able to talk strategy and encourage each other on. Great to see the younger girls ski strong and confident through the semi finals and fun to have Jessie in the final with me,” added Randall. “My heart goes out to Andy (Newell), he was looking the best I’ve seen all season and was in a good position to challenge for the podium when he went down. Sprint racing can be tough that way sometimes.”
In the men’s sprints, Newell took the top finish for the USA in sixth while Canadian Alex Harvey won. Both the men and women take on a 15k/10k classic mass start race on Sunday in Szklarska Poreba.
Release courtesy of USSA