Alaska's Kemppel becomes first four-time Olympian for U.S. in cross-country skiing

Posted: Sunday, December 30, 2001

MIDWAY, Utah -- Nina Kemppel of Anchorage won the Nordic Gold Cup on Saturday, becoming the first women's cross-country skier to qualify for four U.S. Olympic teams.

Kemppel carried a 35-second lead into the second 5K race Saturday and won the dual event with a combined time of 28 minutes, 50.4 seconds. The victory clinched an automatic berth to the Salt Lake City Games.

Kemppel, who first qualified for the games in 1992, felt energized by winning a race at the 2002 Winter Games venue.

"This type of race at this venue helps you figure out your game plan. I'm out there by myself, so it's tough to gauge," Kemppel said. "But I'm planning to make these my best Olympics."

In the men's competition, Justin Wadsworth outlasted Kris Freeman in the stretch of the final race.

Wadsworth, who qualified for his third Olympics with the victory, acknowledged he was pressured by Freeman throughout the race.

"My legs couldn't hold off many attacks," Wadsworth said. "I'm 33 years old, and experience pays off every now and then. If I don't have it figured out now, I'll never get it figured out."

Wadsworth started the second of two 10K races six seconds behind the leader and won in a time of 49 minutes, 10.7 seconds.

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