Randall posts a personal best in a World Cup cross-country skiing event in Switzerland

Beth Bragg

On the day before she begins defense of her World Cup sprint title, Anchorage's Kikkan Randall warmed up by posting her best finish in a distance race at high-altitude Davos, Switzerland.

Randall, a three-time Olympian, placed 18th in a 15-kilometer freestyle race to lead a parade of four American skiers into the top 30 on Saturday.

Norway's Marit Bjoergen blistered the field, winning in 35 minutes, 34.4 seconds. Randall clocked 37:26.7 and was followed by teammates Liz Stephen (20th in 37:29.9), Holly Brooks (25th in 37:43.9) and Jessie Diggins (30th in 37:52).

"My body felt good today and our skis were fast," Randall said in an email. "I had good energy in the last few kilometers. Many on our team are still building our way into race shape as the season goes on, myself included, so to have four girls in the top 30 was a solid day for the team."

On Sunday, Randall will have her eye on the podium. It's the season's first freestyle sprint race, the event she excels in. She is the World Cup's two-time reigning sprint champion, and she is particularly dominant in freestyle sprints -- she claimed gold in the last freestyle sprint in Davos, in 2011, and she won four out of five last season.

"I'm really looking forward to it," Randall said. "The sprint course here in Davos has been good for me and I'm looking forward to testing out my sprint gears against the World Cup field."

Reach Beth Bragg at bbragg@adn.com or 257-4335.