American Kikkan Randall clinches X-country World Cup sprint title
Canadians place 8th and 34
Kikkan Randall of the United States clinched the cross-country World Cup sprint title on Saturday by beating Norwegian world champion Marit Bjoergen to the line in a close finish at the Lahti Ski Games.
Randall and Bjoergen were in a 2-day duel on the final stretch of the 1.55-kilometre freestyle race, and the American managed to throw her ski forward to finish 0.07 seconds ahead of the Norwegian.
"It was my 100th World Cup start, and I was hoping to make it special," said Randall, who also won the World Cup sprint title last season. "I could feel her [Bjoergen] coming a little bit, and had to make sure I was ready to lunge at the finish line. It was my first chance to race against her in a skate sprint all season, so I'm glad it was fun and exciting."
Perianne Jones of Almonte, Ont., was the top Canadian in 34th place.
Randall, who won the team sprint at the world championships last month together with Jessica Diggins, now has an insurmountable 208-point lead over Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk in the discipline standings with two races remaining.
Sweden's Emil Joensson clinched the men's sprint title by beating Ola Vigen Hattestad of Norway in Saturday's race. Joensson has 466 points in the sprint standings, with American Andrew Newell second on 236.
"It was a good final after a pretty bad start," Joensson said. "I had to concentrate to avoid collisions, and I knew that Hattestad was the man to beat, and I had good skis too."
Hattestad, a former sprint world champion, earned his first podium finish in more than a year after struggling all season following an illness.
Len Valjas of Toronto was the top Canadian in eighth place.