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Alaska's Kikkan Randall on podium in team sprint

Posted: December 5, 2011 - 1:02am
Martin Meissner / The Associated Press
Kikkan Randall, right, wins the Free Sprint Final in front of Russia’s Natalia Matveeva, left, during the Cross Country World Cup in Duesseldorf, Germany, on Saturday.

DUESSELDORF, Germany - The U.S. Ski Team’s Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) and Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) combined for an historic FIS World Cup podium Sunday in a sprint relay in Duesseldorf. The U.S. team turned in a strong performance, finishing just 1.6 seconds behind Norway in the freestyle sprint. The podium came just a day after Randall won her fourth career World Cup.

“It’s always such a bigger feeling of satisfaction when you have success in a team effort,” Randall said. “All of our teammates were on course cheering us on and our service team did a top-notch job once again on the skis.”

The podium win for Randall and Bjornsen was the first in history for the USA. The previous best was fourth for women in a Jan. 2009 Olympic test event at Whistler Olympic Park and the men’s previous best was Dec. 2008 at Duesseldorf.

Randall won the individual sprint a day earlier and Bjornsen narrowly missed qualifying.

“Today even tops yesterday,” Randall said. “I’ve always known that we could put together a podium-capable relay team, and we did it. Sadie skied really well. She was being patient when needed, skiing smarty and gutsy, and keeping us right in there. We skied strong in the semi-final and that gave us good confidence for the final. We knew we just needed to stay in contention early in the race and that we would be stronger near the end. I was definitely a little tired from the long day yesterday but I found it felt better as the day went on. Our final tag was a good one and I was able to work my way past a couple teams on the first corner. I just reminded myself to stay relaxed and be patient. Coming down the back stretch I could tell some of the other girls were looking tired. I pushed hard over the top of Mt. Dusseldorf and got into fourth going into the final turn. Getting that hug from Sadie right after was awesome.”

The USA 2 team of Holly Brooks and Ida Sargent were a strong 15th. Randall, Bjornsen and Brooks all train with APU Nordic.

The sprinters will now rejoin their teammates for training in Davos, Switzerland before next weekend’s World Cup.

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