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Randall skis her final World Cup sprint, finishing 15th

  • Author: Beth Bragg
  • Updated: March 16, 2018
  • Published March 16, 2018

Anchorage skier Kikkan Randell waves during the Closing Ceremony at last month’s Winter Olympics. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

It's a wrap for Olympic champion Kikkan Randall of Anchorage.

Well, almost. Although she is expected to ski a distance race Saturday, Randall on Friday made her final appearance in a World Cup sprint race — the event that catapulted her to the top of her sport.

Randall, a five-time Olympian who is retiring at age 35, made the quarterfinals of the season-ending sprint, but her finish-line lunge wasn't enough to move her into the semifinals at the World Cup Finals in Falun, Sweden.

Randall finished third in her quarterfinal and 15th overall, one of four Americans to make the top 15 in the freestyle race.

A gold medalist in the team sprint at last month's Winter Olympics, Randall is nearly done with her competitive career. Soon she'll be back in Anchorage, where a celebration of her gold medal is planned for Wednesday, April 4, at Town Square.

Randall and many of Alaska's other Olympic and Paralympic athletes will be honored at the event, which runs from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Some of those Olympians, like Randall, are still competing. In Friday's sprint race, Anchorage's Sadie Bjornsen was fourth in qualifying and went on to place ninth in the heats, behind sixth-place Sophie Caldwell of Vermont and seventh-place Jessie Diggins of Minnesota.

"It was a beautiful day for sprint racing here in Falun," Bjornsen said by email. "The sun showed up, and conditions are cold and crisp, so it made for some amazing skiing. I have been feeling strong lately, so I was really happy to finish 4th in the qualifier! I felt super strong climbing all day today."

Bjornsen, a two-time Olympian, was near the front early in her semifinal but dropped back and didn't make the finals. She said the letdown makes her eager for Saturday's 10K and Sunday's pursuit.

"I am super excited, and a hair angry after today, which makes a nice combination for me leading into the next two days," Bjornsen said.

Caldwell's sixth-place finish clinched her a spot on the overall World Cup podium for sprint racing. She placed third in the season standings, making her the second skier in U.S. history to make the World Cup overall sprint podium.

The first was Randall, who is a three-time overall sprint champion.

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