The U.S. Cross-Country Ski Team continues to make history leading up to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Led by veteran Kikkan Randall, the team saw success in every 2012-13 world cup before the end of 2012, and the results are expected to continue throughout the remainder of the season and on to the Sochi Games.
The veteran squad’s time and dedication is starting to show results. Randall and Liz Stephen have been working toward a top-three finish their entire career and finally made the podium, along with teammates Jessie Diggins and Holly Brooks. The squad finished third in the team relay at the start of the season. Individually, Randall consistently finds real estate on the podium.
The atmosphere among teammates is positive, and the recent success is fostering even greater achievement. Each time athletes have strong performances, their teammates are at the finish line to congratulate them, and when a teammate is having an off day, the athletes rally even more for encouragement.
All eyes will be on the team as the Sochi Games approach. Randall's favorite event – the freestyle sprint – will be featured, and the Americans have already shown strong contention in the team events.
The cross-country skiing discipline comprises 12 events, including sprint, team sprint, individual start, pursuit, mass start and relay events. The individual interval start race is the traditional race format, where skiers compete against the clock. The top-ranked skier starts last and the winner of the race is the skier with the fastest time.
The sprint competition will consist of 30 skiers competing in elimination heats with the top-six finishers advancing to the medal round. In the team sprint, two skiers combine for a total of six, 1.5-kilometer legs, with the top-10 teams qualifying for the final.
The pursuit is an exciting mass start race where skiers ski the first half using the classic technique before switching to the free technique for the second half inside the stadium. The skiers are required to change skis at the halfway point, during which time the clock continues to run.
The individual mass start races are the longest cross-country events at the Games, and include large groups of athletes using strategy and tactics to gain an advantage during the course of the race, and then demonstrating their sprinting abilities at the finish. Short loops allow spectators in the stadium to see the contestants every 10-12 minutes.
The relay format features teams of four skiers, with the first two legs using the classic technique and the last two using the free technique. Skiers take turns competing, and tag their teammate in an exchange zone at the end of each leg.
At the Sochi Games, skiers will showcase their skills at the Laura Cross-Country Ski & Biathlon Center. The center is located on the crest and slopes of the Psekhako Ridge and includes a 9,600-seat stadium.
- Kikkan Randall is dominating the freestyle sprint, which propelled her to five podium appearances – including two wins – during the first part of the 2012-13 season. She showcased her consistency in sprinting during the 2011-12 season, winning the sprint title. With all her success, the freestyle sprint is Randall’s favorite event heading into the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
- The strength and depth of the newcomers is a staple on the women's team. Randall has teamed up with Sadie Bjornsen and Jessie Diggins to notch multiple world cup podium appearances in 2012-13.
ATHLETES TO WATCH
Diggins took the world cup by storm, winning all four titles at the 2012 U.S. Championships. In just her third world cup start, the 21-year-old teamed up with Randall to medal in a team sprint. She then followed it up at the start of the 2013 season with a team sprint win. Diggins is hitting her stride as the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games approach.
Newell has brought a new style and excitement to cross-country skiing, and along the way, recorded the best U.S. men’s results since the era of his childhood hero Bill Koch. As a junior competitor more than 10 years ago, he was ranked among the top sprinters in the world. As he began building experience and confidence, he went on to post the best international results by an American, including the first U.S. podium in more than two decades in 2006.
Over the last decade, Randall has slowly and methodically built a career as the best U.S. women’s cross-country skier in history. She parlayed five world cup podiums – including two wins – into the world cup sprint title in 2012. This marked a first for an American woman. Her winning ways continued into 2013, with multiple podium appearances.
Athletes with a maximum of 100 distance FIS points are eligible to participate in the distance and/or sprint events at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Competitors with a maximum of 120 sprint FIS points shall be allowed to participate in the sprint events, while athletes with less than 300 FIS distance points will be eligible to compete in the distance (men’s 15-kilometer, women’s 10-kilometer) events.
Athletes ranking in the top 50 in the distance world cup standings or the sprint world cup standings as of Jan. 12, 2014 shall be nominated to the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team, unless application of these criteria would result in a total of more than the maximum number of nominations allowed by the FIS. If team positions remain open, the USSA cross-country head coach may use discretion to determine remaining team nominations.
|Feb. 16-17||FIS Cross Country World Cup||Davos, Switzerland|
|Feb. 20-March 3||World Championships||Val di Fiemme, Italy|
|March 9-10||FIS Cross Country World Cup||Lahti, Finland|
|March 13||FIS Cross Country World Cup||Drammen, Norway|
|March 16-17||FIS Cross Country World Cup||Oslo, Norway|
|March 20||FIS Cross Country World Cup||Stockholm, Sweden|
|March 22-24||FIS Cross Country World Cup||Falun, Sweden|
|Jan. 14||Olympic Team announced|