U.S. Ski Team athlete Ida Sargent, shown here at last year's World Championships, led the USA finishing 10th in a classic sprint in Asiago. (U.S. Ski Team - Sarah Brunson)
ASIAGO, Italy (Dec. 21) - Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT) led the USA Saturday with a strong 10th in a classic sprint in Asiago. Four American women and two men qualifed for finals including Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT), who was fifth fastest. Only Sargent advanced past the quarterfinals. Russia's Nikita Kruikov took the men's win with Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk powering to victory for the women. A team sprint is set for Sunday.
Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT) finished 10th to lead the USA in a classic sprint in Asiago.
The USA qualified an impressive four women into the heats including Sargent plus Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) in 16th, Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) 20th and Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT) 24th.
Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) qualified fifth but lost a ski in the opening heat and ended up 26th. Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) was 23rd.
Russian Nikita Kruikov won for the men, Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk for the women.
Hamilton and Newell were leading their quarterfinal heat mid-race when Newell lost a ski after his binding popped on a corner and caused him to crash.
Sargent advanced into semifinals as one of two lucky losers in the quarterfinals. Randall was well back in her opening heat.
The victory vaulted Kowalczyk, the overall World Cup leader, into the sprint lead. Randall is now fifth in the overall, third in sprint.
A team sprint is set for Sunday before a brief holiday break leading into the Tour de Ski plus U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships at Soldier Hollow beginning Jan. 4.
QUOTES Ida Sargent Today was fun and a good confidence booster. I had felt like my fitness was stronger than my results were showing, so it was nice to get back in the top 10 today.
I had a couple horrible starts in both the quarterfinal and the semifinal. In the semifinal I caught skis with Saarinen from Finland and almost went down. I had to sprint to catch up and it might have been too much for me because I got pretty tired toward the finish of the heat and lost some ground there. It was a pretty flat course which isn't usually my strength but I felt good today. There were lots of narrow turns though and there was a mix of striding on classic skis and double poling on skate skis though so it was an exciting race. All the U.S. girls went with classic skis and we had great wax and I was really happy with that choice. I'm looking forward to the team sprint tomorrow!
Kikkan Randall I'm not happy with the result today. I wanted more. But I tried hard with what I had in the body today and it just wasn't quite enough. With classic for me there is a certain zone both with intensity and body position. If I get in that zone I am really strong but if I sit just below it I struggle. Today I was just below that optimal zone.
It was definitely a good course to lead from the front if you were able. I had an okay start but didn't carry my speed well across the flats. I pulled myself back up to the leaders a couple times on the uphills but was scrambling too much and not able to match their pace. As I started to get tired in the last double-poling sections I didn't do a very good job of putting my power into my poles. I was in the fastest heat so if I could have kept myself a little closer I might have been able to sneak through as lucky loser. Just didn't quite have the gas today.
Really great to see all my teammates ski so strong again today. It definitely helps my spirits when I didn't advance past the quarterfinals to see that USA still had some strong chances!
Matt Whitcomb, Women's Head Coach Qualifying all four women is hugely successful for us, and that impressive start to the day was backed by Newell (qualifying 5th) and Hamilton (qualifying 26th) making the rounds.
The sprint course in Asiago proved to be a race of tactics and ski selection strategy, especially for the men. While a few women chose to double pole on skate gear, including the fastest qualifier and the fourth place finisher in the final, nearly all men double poled the course.
We had very good skis for both men and women, and decided to have our women stride the qualifier and heats and our men double pole everything. Looking back on our decision, we feel it was the right one for the team.
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