Three notable things happened for Kikkan Randall at a World Cup cross-country sprint race Friday in Falun, Sweden:
• She placed fourth in the classic sprint race, the final sprint of the World Cup season.
• She was awarded the crystal globe for ending the season as the circuit's top sprint racer, marking the third season in a row she has reigned supreme in the sprint.
• She enjoyed the company of teammates in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.
Randall, 31, clinched the sprint title earlier this month, so it didn't matter how the Anchorage skier finished Friday -- the globe belonged to her. It was presented to her in a ceremony after the race,
"It's still a very special feeling to feel the weight of that crystal in your hand," she said in an email. "A bunch of my teammates and all the staff were out there to celebrate the ceremony with me."
More significantly, a couple of Randall's teammates joined her in the quarterfinals of Friday's race, and one of them made it into the finals with her -- further evidence of the U.S. Ski Team's growing impact on the international scene, particularly among women.
Four women advanced from the preliminaries to the quarterfinals -- Randall, Anchorage's Sadie Bjornsen and Vermont skiers Sophie Caldwell and Ida Sargent. Randall, Caldwell and Bjornsen ended up in the same quarterfinal and finished 1-2-3, with Bjornsen placing third and failing to make it to the semifinals.
"I have to say it was a really cool feeling to be in the heat with three of us," Randall said. "(We) headed into the stadium with Sadie leading, Sophie next and me in third. I got a little bit of a draft so I pulled up next to Sadie up the last small climb and we all came off the final turn pretty close. I swung wide and double-poled hard and kept the lead down the homestretch, but it was really close between all of us."
Randall and Caldwell advanced all the way to the six-person finals, where Randall wound up fourth and Caldwell sixth.
The race marked the second time this season that Caldwell joined Randall in the finals of a World Cup sprint -- earlier this month, Randall won gold and Caldwell bronze for the first double-podium finish in U.S. cross-country history.
"It was really fun to be back in the final with Sophie," Randall said. "It was a really good feeling to see two American flags on the scoreboard as we headed to the start."
Bjornsen finished 13th and Sargent, who also didn't advance from the quarterfinals, placed 20th.
For the men, Andy Newell claimed eighth place, finishing second in the "B" final.
Victories went to Norway's Marit Bjoergen and Sweden's Teodor Peterson.
By BETH BRAGG