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Skiing - 13. March 2011.

Randall Loses Grip on World Cup Lead

LAHTI, Finland (March 13) - An outstanding qualifying effort by World Cup sprint leader Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) went for nought Sunday as the U.S. Ski Team cross country star failed to advance from her quarterfinal heat in Lahti. Randall dropped to third in the World Cup standings, but stayed in striking distance with one event remaining.

Emil Joensson of Sweden and Marit Bjoergen of Norway took the wins in front of more than 10,000 fans. Joensson clinched the men's World Cup sprint title while Slovenia's Petra Majdic moved into the women's lead with a 29 point lead over Randall in third.

Randall, who has had two wins on the season in sprint World Cups, qualified a solid fifth, behind Norwegian qualification leader Astrid Uhrenholt. It set the stage for a battle for the World Cup sprint crown in the penultimate sprint race of the season. Italian Arianna Follis and Majdic, Randall's biggest challengers for the title, qualified 11th and 24th.

The American had a good draw for a quarterfinal heat. Randall went out strong and was in the thick of the battle through the first half of the 1.4k classic lap. She was in second around the midway point but fell back on the second half climb and was dropped on a technical turn coming into the stadium, finishing 1.8 seconds back. It was also a slow heat and she had no chance of getting a lucky loser pass into the semifinals.

"The day just started so well. I had the red leader's bib, the body felt great and after the result I had Saturday I was feeling good," said Randall, who was a non-sprint career best 11th in the mixed technique pursuit a day earlier. "I had a few slips on a steep uphill and lost a bit of time. Then I couldn't rejoin the group on the downhill. My fitness was good, so I am a little frustrated. But it was still very exciting. I am still third overall with another race to go."

"There’s no question both Kikkan’s and Andy’s racing put a dent in things for us. We are all disappointed, but we will just keep moving forward," said U.S. Cross Country Ski Team Assistant Coach Matt Whitcomb.

Randall still has a shot at the title but has some ground to make up on both Majdic and Follis with just one event remaining. The final sprint World Cup of the season will be held Wednesday with the Stockholm City Sprints in the classical technique.

World Cup
Lahti, Finland - Mar. 13, 2011
1.4k Classic Technique Sprint

1. Marit Bjoergen, Norway
2. Astrid Uhrenholdt, Norway
3. Petra Majdic, Slovenia
21. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage
34. Holly Brooks, Anchorage

For complete results:http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?cal_suchsector=CC&event_id=28389

Women's Overall World Cup Standings

1. Justyna Kowalczyk, Poland, 1,789
2. Marit Bjoergen, Norway, 1,232
3. Arianna Follis, Italy, 1,1125

Women's Distance World Cup Standings

1. Justyna Kowalczyk, Poland, 947
2. Marit Bjoergen, Norway, 675
3. Therese Johaug, Norway, 585

Women's Sprint World Cup Standings

1. Petra Madjic, Slovenia, 430
2. Arianna Follis, Italy, 423
3. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, 401
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