With only one month left in this year's FIS World Cup in cross-country skiing America's Kikkan Randall holds on to a surprising 4th place in the overall standings. While there is no chance for her to win the whole competition she will most likely reach for a Crystal Globe in a sprint category. Last Friday Kikkan came in 3rd in Szklarska Poręba in Poland and once again proved that she is one of the fastest short distance runners in the world.
Q: What a truly remarkable finish in the final run! Before the start you were a sure-fire bet to win, but then you fell at the beginning of the final run and... what happened next?
K.R.: Yes, I was feeling good about my chances in the final and was just trying to get in a good position when my skis collided with Matveeva and we went down. When I got up, I wasn't sure if I could catch up, but I wanted to at least try. After 100m or so, I realized I had a chance to catch the pack. Once I caught them, I knew I still needed to try to move up closer to the front so I attacked again up the hill. It cost some energy but it's what I had to do.
Q: In the scope of the events - are you happy with the third place overall?
K.R.: Yes. It's never fun to fall and I think the end result could have ended up differently if I hadn't had to use up so much energy early in the race. But I was very happy to have been able to get back into the race and give everything I had.
Q: Final run featured all 4 top sprinters this season - are you surprised that Ingermarsdotter won it?
K.R.: Ingemarsdotter has been racing really strong since the tour, so we knew she would be a strong contender. I think it was really good to have all the top sprinters in the final. Makes for exciting racing!
Q: There are three more sprints left this season - are you planning on taking part in all of them?
K.R.: Yes, I am planning on racing all the remaining sprints. They will all be classic sprints so I an anxious to test out my classic skills again. I want to defend the red jersey all the way through Stockholm!
Q: Thanks to Kalla's misfortunes in this morning's qualifications and your 3rd place in the final you leap-frogged the Suede in the World Cup standing and now hold 4th position overall. Your next target is Johaug, but she's got over 300 points more than you. Do you think you can still catch up to her?
KR: Kalla and I have been racing closely all season and with several races left I imagine we will continue to challenge each other. Johaug is quite a bit ahead. It is still possible to catch her, but it would take amazing skiing by me and some misfortunes for her and with the way she has been skiing lately, I don't think that is likely. I will focus on skiing my best in the next races and the points will be what they are.
Q: But in the sprint category you are the one to be chased. How special would it be for you to raise a Small Crystal Globe over your head a month away in Falun?
K.R.: To win the Crystal Globe would be a dream come true. A few years ago this didn't even seem like a possibility and to win it would mean so much for US skiing.
Q: While it sure looks as the Sprint category is already decided the fight for the first place in the overall standings still continues. Will it be Kowalczyk or Bjoergen? Or perhaps both of them should win the trophy because of how good they are this year?
K.R.: Both women have been incredible competitors this year and it's been really exciting to watch them battle back and forth. In the end someone must win, and right now I don't know who that will be.
Q: What can you say about Kowalczyk and Bjoergen today? Were you surprised how easy was it for you to beat both of them in the quarterfinal run?
K.R.: I couldn't believe that I ended up in a quarterfinal with both of them. It was an exciting race to the end. Maybe it wasn't their day but I know they will both be back in force in the 10km classic.
Q: Kowalczyk mentioned that the trail conditions were very icy. Did you have any weather-related complaints?
K.R: The trail was very hard packed and it was hard to balance in places. It was definitely challenging but it was challenging for everyone. That's the crazy part about our sport, you have to be able to deal with all the different weather conditions.
Q: What can you say about polish fans, who came to support Kowalczyk, but also to make this event special for everyone?
K.R.: The fans were great out there! I was really impressed with the number of fans that came out in the inclement weather to cheer on their hero. It's great to see and it really makes the racing more fun for us. I was also really impressed with how much the fans cheered on all the competitors, no matter what country they were from. It showed very good sportsmanship from the Polish people.
Q: Will you come back to Poland next year?
K.R.: I think it would be good to have more World Cups in Poland and if it's on the schedule, I will come!
Contributed by Tomek Moczerniuk, www.papatomski.com