Coming off her second illness in recent weeks, Kikkan Randall of Anchorage steadily moved up in a World Cup nordic skiathon Saturday in Lahti, Finland, and led Americans with a 12th-place finish.
The performance by the three-time Olympian, who is coming off another bout with a stomach bug, maintained her fourth-place overall status in the World Cup points race -- she is the world's top sprinter and ranked No. 11 in distance events.
The event began with a 7.5-kilometer classic ski. Skiers then changed gear and immediately completed a 7.5-kilometer freestyle leg.
Randall was clocked in 38 minutes, 14.1 seconds. She was 16th after the classic leg and stormed up four spots on the freestyle leg. Norway's Therese Johaug won in 36:52.6.
"Today was a good sign that I have rebounded from my (second) round of the stomach bug that I got right after (competing in) Poland,'' Randall wrote in an email. "I wasn't sure how today would go but I think this bodes well for the final period.''
American Jessica Diggins finished 18th in 38:37.7 and countrywoman Elizabeth Stephen was 21st in 38:46.3. Sadie Bjornsen, who like Randall and Holly Brooks of Anchorage, trains in the APU program, took 33rd in 39:21.8.
Brooks, who recently won the famed Birkebeiner marathon race in Wisconsin and Saturday returned to the World Cup circuit after taking a break to let her broken wrist heal, finished 46th in 40:10.2.
Brooks is ranked 53rd in the world.
A classic ski Cup race is scheduled for Sunday.
Time for the Tour
The annual Tour of Anchorage, one of the largest ski races in the country, kicks off Sunday morning and both defending men's 50-kilometer champion Dylan Watts and defending women's 50-K champion Melissa Lewis are registered.
The Tour, which includes 50-K, 40-K and 25-K races in both classic and freestyle disciplines, drew about 1,650 participants last season, according to the event website, and in 2007 drew a record field of 2,050 racers.
The event draws some of the best skiers in the country, most of who call Alaska home. Previous 50-K winners include Lars Flora, Adam Verrier, James Southam and Holly Brooks, all of whom are Olympians.
The elite 50-K freestyle racers are the first to head out on the trails, starting at Service High at 8:30 p.m. All 50-K and 40-K races start at Service, and both 25-K races start at Alaska Pacific University, with the earliest starters at that venue going off at 9:30 a.m.
All races finish at Kincaid Park.
Rage City rolls
The Rage City Rollergirls All Stars defeated the Fairbanks Rollergirls in a roller derby bout at the Dena'Ina Center Saturday, taking an early lead and cruising to a 366-69 win.
Anchorage Daily News