Norway’s Marit Bjoergen claimed victory in the ladies’ 10km classic during today’s FIS World Cup cross-country skiing event at Toblach, Italy, while Olympic medal threat Kikkan Randall (pictured) of the U.S. finished 15th as she tuned up for Sochi.
Elizabeth Stephen was the top American finisher in the race, coming home just outside the Top 10 in 11th place. Two more Americans finished in the Top 20, with Sadie Bjornsen in 17th and Ida Sargent in 20th.
The U.S. cross-country team has just completed a week-long training session in Italy, and Randall said in a U.S. team release that the session “went exactly as we had planned.”
“It was great to get back to racing today after another training break,” she said about today’s proceedings. “I haven’t done so much distance racing since Christmas, so it’s taking a little bit to get the feeling back…Today’s race was a great effort to kick my body back into race gear and I’m looking forward to another skate sprint tomorrow.”
Those sprint events on Sunday will serve as the final races for the team before heading off to Sochi for the Olympics.
Randall leads the way for the team, as she aims to become the first U.S. woman to win a cross-country medal and the first American, man or woman, to win cross-country gold.
To do that, she may have to go through Bjoergen, who is the defending Olympic champion in the individual sprint and is a seven-time Olympic medalist overall.
Bjoergen is also aiming for big things in Sochi, as she looks to close in on fellow Norwegian and 12-time Olympic medalist Bjorn Daehlie in her bid to become the most decorated Winter Olympian ever.