Finland led much of the race to take the gold Thursday in the women's team event at the 2009 FIS Nordic Ski World Championships in the Czech Republic. The USA finished 14th.
"Each individual skied their hardest, so that's all we can ask," U.S. Cross Country Head Coach Pete Vordenberg said.
The U.S. women's cross country relay team was led by Kikkan Randall (Anchorage), who Tuesday won a World Championship silver medal, Morgan Arritola (Ketchum, ID), Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT) and Caitlin Compton (Minneapolis, MN).
Randall opened with classic a leg to get more experience in the discipline and was sixth, 27 seconds behind the leading Poles. Arritola skied next in classic where she lost 1:14 to Finland's Virpi Kuitunen, who put Finland into the lead with a torrid pace. The USA dropped to ninth before Stephen, in the first leg of skate, was eighth fastest but the team dropped from ninth to 10th. Compton skied the final skate leg and dropped to 14th.
According to Vordenberg, all the athletes went all out in their legs of the race.
"We had a really strong start with Kikkan. She probably had her best classic race of all time. Then it tagged over to Morgan and I think it's safe to say it was her best 5K classic race as well," Vordenberg said. "Liz had a really fast start. She probably didn't pace it quite right, but skied super strong. Caitlin was our anchor. She didn't have the best day, but she skied her butt off and that's what we ask of them."
Germany finished second in the event, followed by Sweden in third.
Up next for the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team is the men's 4X5 relay on Friday.
"We have the men's relay tomorrow and it's kind of a hodge podge of distance guys and sprinters," Vordenberg said. "I think it's just going to be another day of looking how each person can ski. I think the sprinters are going to have a really good opportunity to whip some people and that's what we're going to try to do."