Randall and Golberg win Lahti Ski Games sprints
Historic day in Lahti with two US women on the sprint podium with Kikkan Randall taking the win and Sophie Caldwell in third. Katja Visnar of Slovenia took second. In the men's sprint competition Paal Golberg (NOR) recorded his second ever World Cup victory to go along with his 15 km classic win earlier in the season in December. Alexey Petukhov (RUS) was second and Eirik Brandsdal (NOR) in third.
Both the men's and ladies' finals had two of the six athletes go down in crashes. Olympic silver medalist Vesna Fabjan (SLO) and Olympic gold medalist Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR) went down together early in the ladies' final. In the men's event Olympic gold medalist Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR) and Matias Strandvall (FIN) both fell separately.
Despite having three of the Olympic sprint medalists in the finals the podiums in both events were new from Sochi.
It was a historic day for the US ski team. Kikkan Randall was the only US woman to ever make a World Cup podium, and now Sophie Caldwell has become the second to do so and both shared the podium today. For Visnar it was her first World Cup podium since Rybinsk in 2011.
On the men's side Golberg joins a small group to have won both a 15 km classic competition and a skate sprint. It's believed that only Eldar Roenning, also of Norway has achieved the same. For Petukhov it was his second podium this season, following up on his third place finish in Nove Mesto in January.
With Randall's win and Brandsdal's podium both have now taken over the lead in the Overall World Cup sprint standings. Randall now leads German'y Denise Herrmann by 36 points and Brandsdal over Joseph Wenzl (GER) by just 4 points, with Hattestad just 30 points back. With just two sprint events remaining it will be an exciting battle to the end.
Kikkan Randall USA
It’s good to be back on the top of the podium. It’s great to win and to share the podium with a teammate. I like the course in Lahti. It was a tactical competition.
Katja Visnar SLO
I am happy to be second today. I have been quite fast in qualification but I have often ended in quarterfinal or semifinal. I am glad it was not the case today. The snow was soft and it was challenging to find a good balance and rhythm. We have a strong ladies team especially in free technique sprints. It was great that four Slovenian skiers qualified today.
Sophie Caldwell USA
It is a very special day for me. I cannot believe I won third place. I trained lunges with my coach and I think it was my best lunge ever. It is great feeling for me to be on the podium with Kikkan.
Pål Golberg NOR
It’s been a while since I won in Lillehammer. I was sick afterwards and out for almost a month. The Games did now work out well so I am happy to be back on the top of podium today. It was a crazy final with two falls. I was bit lucky I could avoid a crash, but luck belongs to sport. For tomorrow I do not know what to expect from myself as I have not raced 15 km free a while.
Alexey Petukhov RUS
Last two season have been quite difficult for me. Of course I am a bit disappointed I could not win but I am happy for the second place. The organisers did a great job with the course. It was quite soft but so it was also in other venues. I have to congratulate to Pål and Eirik. They are great athletes.
OFFICIAL RESULTS - Free technique sprint
1. RANDALL Kikkan 1982 USA
2. VISNAR Katja 1984 SLO
3. CALDWELL Sophie 1990 USA
4. VUERICH Gaia 1991 ITA
5. FALLA Maiken Caspersen 1990 NOR
6. FABJAN Vesna 1985 SLO
1. GOLBERG Paal 1990 NOR
2. PETUKHOV Alexey 1983 RUS
3. BRANDSDAL Eirik 1986 NOR
4. PETERSON Teodor 1988 SWE
5. STRANDVALL Matias 1985 FIN
6. HATTESTAD Ola Vigen 1982 NOR
Complete results are available HERE.
Sprint Cup standing ladies
1. Kikkan Randall USA 482 pts
2. Denise Herrmann GER 446 pts
3. Ingvild Flugstad Østberg NOR 330 pts
Sprint Cup standing men
1. Eirik Brandsdal NOR 292 pts
2. Josef Wenzl GER 288 pts
3. Ola Vigen Hattestad NOR 262 pts