March 16th, 2012
FALUN, Sweden – Marit Bjoergen (NOR) was the fastest in the ladies’ 2.5km freestyle prologue this afternoon, crossing the finish line in 6:54.4. With the warm temperatures and sunny skies it was all smiles for the Norwegian after she crossed finish line and had conquered the infamous Mördarbacken.
Following Bjoergen was Sweden’s own Charlotte Kalla (+6.2), who seems to be coming into top form, much to the delight of the passionate Swedish fans that lined the Mördarbacken. The third fastest in the prologue was Mathe Kristohhersen (NOR), who crossed the line in 7:05.8.
For the United States it was a brilliant day in the sun, as Kikkan Randall led the way in 7th place, finishing in a time of 7:10.0. “I felt really good, I think the skis were just awesome today,” she said immediately following the race.
As for the challenges of the Mördarbacken, Randall told FasterSkier.
“It is a pretty fun hill to ski; it changes grades there a couple of times, it’s packed with fans, it gets nice and steep there at the top, but I felt good through that part and it is fun knowing there is an exciting downhill waiting for you on the other side.”
Right after Randall was Jessie Diggins, just 0.4 seconds back in 8th, while Liz Stephen rounded out an expressive day for the team finishing in 13th place, 20.4 seconds off the winning time.
“I felt really good,” said Diggins after the race. “The skis were really fast, I was really impressed with the coaches and what they did with them.”
As for the Mördarbacken from Diggins perspective, “that hill is really hard to keep your tempo up, it just pitches up.”
Randall, Diggins and Stephen were all smiles at the finish and you could tell that they were all excited about the way they had skied as they all had left everything they could on the course.
On the Canadian side, things did not go quite as well, but they were mostly happy with their results. Dasha Gaiazova led the way in 7:27.5, good enough for 27th place. Next came Chandra Crawford, who crossed the line in 45th place in a time of 7:43.1.
Canada’s Alysson Marshall, who posted the slowest time in the fielded, finishing 49th in a time of 8:07.2, has been battling illness and unable to train.
All 2012 FIS World Cup Finals coverage is brought to you through the generous support of Fischer Sports USA, proud sponsors of Kikkan Randall, 2012 overall Sprint Cup Champion.