Andy Newell skis to seventh in classic sprint qualifying at the opening of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Val di Fiemme. (U.S. Ski Team - Sarah Brunson)
VAL DI FIEMME, Italy (Feb. 21) - The U.S. Ski Team qualified three skiers into the heats but all fell victim in the quarterfinals as the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships got underway in Val di Fiemme with classic sprints. Russia's Nikita Kruikuv and Norway's Marit Bjoergen took gold. Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) finished 19th, Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT) 20th in her World Championships debut and Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) 21st. Canadian Alex Harvey took bronze. Action continues Friday with nordic combined and women's ski jumping, with cross country back Saturday with skiathlon.
The U.S. Ski Team qualified three into the quarterfinals in the opening classic sprints at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, but all three failed to advance from their heats.
World Cup sprint leader Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) survived a scare but qualified 28th before going out in the quarterfinals. She was sluggish in her heat but made a strategic and risk move on a 180-degree turn about 400 meters from the finish to move into third but didn't have the gas down the stretch.
Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT), getting her first World Championships start, qualified in the final spot and skied strongly in her heat, moving up to challenge the leaders midway before dropping to fourth.
Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) was strong qualifying seventh. He was well positioned in his quarterfinal heat but missed a pole plant out of the start and had to expend valuable energy to get himself back into contention. He challenged the leaders before dropping back to fifth at the finish.
Cross country has the day off Friday before going with skiathlon Saturday and team sprints Sunday.
QUOTES Kikkan Randall I wanted more out of today, for sure. I'm happy with the way I skied that last round. I think I skied with what I had today. We've been at altitude for a long time now and maybe just haven't done quite enough of this really hard stuff, but I think today will be really good for Sunday. I was skiing all out the whole time. I didn't feel like I could really access that sprint gear today. I felt like I was going as hard as I could and not really even hanging on but I got myself back in there a couple of times. I was happy with the way I skied that 180 degree corner and thought I was back in contention but I don't think I should have gone in my own lane before the bump to the finish. I think I should have stayed in the draft. I was pretty maxed out. I didn't have a ton of gas in the finish.
Sophie Caldwell I'm really happy – I just look at this as I can only go up from 30th place. I fight for every spot I can. Right before I went, Chris Grover was telling me that a lot of times heat number one is usually fast with bib number 1 in it so I really had to fight for every spot. I got passed by someone in the finish. Double poling is not my strength, so I was happy to hang on to fourth place. This was an awesome experience on the world's stage. I'm very happy to be here.
Andy Newell I had a bad start, obviously. I missed a pole or something. I got back into it and I was in a good enough position to get my own track on the second hill which was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be able to punch up the hill but I just didn't quite have the kick today. I struggled for kick on the first hill and also on the second in the heats for some reason. My skis were good in qualification- lots of kick. It's a little bit tricky waxing today. I didn't ski the best finish. I came out of the draft too early. It was a bad slingshot. It could have been a better. I should have at least slingshotted up past a few people.
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