Kikkan Randall gets a few days off before heading into the most grueling week of the season, and she can use the rest after putting in a hard 15 kilometers in Sunday's World Cup skiathlon in Canmore, Alberta.
Randall, the three-time Olympian from Anchorage, placed eighth in the event that featured a 7.5-kilometer classic race followed by 7.5 kilometers of freestyle racing, with a pit stop in-between to change equipment.
The finish kept her in second place in the World Cup overall rankings, which include results from sprint and distance races. In the sprint standings, Randall ranks first in the world; in the distance standings, she ranks fifth.
The U.S. Ski Team's Ida Sargent of Orleans, Vt., placed a career-best 14th and Anchorage's Holly Brooks scored World Cup points by finishing 28th.
The World Cup is now on break for the holidays, with action scheduled to resume Dec. 29 in Germany. That's when the demanding Tour de Ski begins -- a series that features seven races in nine days in three European countries.
Randall, 29, has become a threat in distance races this season, reaching the podium in one. But with a top-three finish far beyond her grasp Sunday -- she was more than 40 seconds out of third place -- she had to adjust her mind-set.
"All of the distance races I feel like I've been in the fight, so it's just a little tough," she said in a press release from the ski team. "I just kind of refocused and told myself that this was a good hard workout to get ready for the Tour. So I think it's good to just refocus like that."
Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland dominated in 42 minutes, 51.5 seconds for her second victory in Canmore. She won by more than 30 seconds. Randall finished in 42:51.5, Sargent in 44:29.8 and Brooks in 45:42.7.
Maurice Manificat of France won the men's 30-K skiathlon. The U.S. men enjoyed one of their best days ever, with Noah Hoffman of Aspen, Colo., grabbing eighth place and Kris Freeman of Andover, N.H., placing 10th.