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Strong USSA XC Ski team named

Anchorage's Randall heads the list

Posted: January 20, 2013 - 1:18am
The U.S. Ski Team's women's relay team, shown here after an historic podium in Sweden earlier this season, is expected to challenge for a medal at the FIS Nordic Ski World Championships in Val di Fiemme.
The U.S. Ski Team's women's relay team, shown here after an historic podium in Sweden earlier this season, is expected to challenge for a medal at the FIS Nordic Ski World Championships in Val di Fiemme.

PARK CITY, UT – Anchorage’s Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Team member Kikkan Randall heads a team of 13 cross country athletes named by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association to compete in the FIS Nordic Ski World Championships Feb. 20-March 3 in Val di Fiemme, Italy. Randall, a silver medalist in the World Championship sprint four years ago, leads a team that mixes youth with some of the strongest experience ever on a U.S. World Championships Team.

Current World Cup sprint leader Randall will be her seventh Worlds.

“This Team will be lean but focused on bringing home a medal from the World Championships,” head coach Chris Grover said. “We have a history of success in Val di Fiemme and come to the Championships in the midst of a strong season. The women’s relay teams in the 4x5k and team sprint will be among the favorites.”

Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) will mark a seventh World Championship Team, including memories of Val di Fiemme in 2003 when he missed a medal in the 15k by just two seconds, finishing fourth.

Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) will come to his sixth World Championships on the heels of a strong sprinting season. Newell was fifth at Worlds in 2007 at Sapporo in the classic sprint.

The seven U.S. women named bring the most depth ever in a World Championships Team including an historic podium earlier this season in a 4x5k relay.

Making their first World Championships Team were Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) and Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT).

The World Cup squad will remain busy up until the Championships with races this weekend in La Clusaz, France before a one week break leading up to Olympic test events in Sochi, Russia Feb. 1-3.

The World Championships Team will train in Davos, Switzerland with a final World Cup Feb. 16-17 before traveling to Val di Fiemme in the Dolomites west of Cortina.

2013 U.S. World Championship Cross Country Team

Men

(Name, hometown, birthdate, USSA club, past World Champs)

Erik Bjornsen, Winthrop, WA, 7/14/91, U.S. Ski Team/Alaska Pacific University

Tad Elliott, Durango, CO, 7/2/88, U.S. Ski Team/Ski and Snowboard Club Vail (2011)

Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, 10/14/80, Maine Winter Sports Club (2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011)

Simi Hamilton, Aspen, CO, 5/14/87, U.S. Ski Team/Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (2011)

Noah Hoffman, Aspen, CO, 8/1/89, U.S. Ski Team/Ski and Snowboard Club Vail (2011)

Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT, 11/30/83, U.S. Ski Team/SMS T2 (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011)

Women

Sadie Bjornsen, Winthrop, WA, 11/21/89, U.S. Ski Team/APU Nordic (2011)

Holly Brooks, Anchorage, 4/17/82, U.S. Ski Team/APU Nordic (2011)

Sophie Caldwell, Peru, VT, 3/22/96, SMS T2

Jessie Diggins, Afton, MN, 8/26/91, U.S. Ski Team/SMS T2, (2011)

Kikkan Randall, Anchorage 12/31/82, U.S. Ski Team/APU Nordic (2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011)

Ida Sargent, Orleans, VT, 1/25/88, U.S. Ski Team/Craftsbury Nordic (2011)

Liz Stephen, E. Montpelier, VT, 1/12/87, U.S. Ski Team/Burke Mountain Academy (2009, 2011)

SCHEDULE

FIS Nordic Ski World Championships

Val di Fiemme, Italy

Feb. 20 – Opening Ceremony

Feb. 21 – Classic sprint

Feb. 23 – Skiathlon (men 15k CL/15k FS; women 7.5k CL/7.5k FS)

Feb. 24 – Freestyle team sprint

Feb. 26 – Women’s 10k freestyle

Feb. 27 – Men’s 15k freestyle

Feb. 28 – Women’s 4x5k relay (CL/FS)

Mar. 1 – Men’s 4x10k relay (CL/FS)

Mar. 2 – Women’s 30k classic

Mar. 3 – Men’s 50k classic

LA CLUSAZ, France - Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) led a strong U.S. Ski Team surge with four women in the top 30 in a 10k classic mass start World Cup in La Clusaz. Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) was 28th to lead the men in a 15k. Norway’s Marit Bjoergen won the women’s race in her first race back since before the Tour de Ski while Alexey Poltoranin won for the men. Relays are on tap in La Clusaz for Sunday. Stephen was 15th to lead the USA in a 10k classic mass start, a career best classic.

“I tried to get a good start and, as we are at altitude here, not work too hard on the first lap and blow up on the next two,” Stephen said. “There are a lot of places to pass on this course, but with the conditions being what they were, staying in the track was best for not icing on the uphills. So, I forced myself to stay in the tracks as much as I could, which was easy with the rollerski kick I had. I made most of my moves on the uphills, just consistent turning up the speed throughout the race and staying relaxed, trying to ski smooth and controlled and hang tough.”

Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) was 28th for the U.S. men, his second top 30 classic distance finish and notable as it came at altitude.

Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) was 24th, Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) 28th and Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT) 29th.

Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) had challenges with skis and finished 32nd. She is third in the overall World Cup standings.

“The race was going relatively well through two laps and my skis ended up being a major distracting factor today,” Randall said. “The conditions were surprisingly tricky and variable. Ski testing before the race went relatively smooth and I headed to the start feeling pretty confident about my skis. First lap they worked great, second lap was a little bit of icing and then third lap was a big battle.”

A team event is on tap for Sunday with the U.S. women looking to repeat their historic first podium from earlier this year. The men will go with Newell, Hoffman, Tad Elliott (Durango, CO) and Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO). The women will run with Holly Brooks (Anchorage), Randall, Stephen and Diggins - same team that took third in Sweden.

Next week the team is planning to train on the nearby 1992 Olympic trails in Les Saisies before heading to Sochi for Olympic test events the following week.

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