U.S. 11th in XC Relay
FALUN, Sweden (Feb. 24) - Norway won both the men's and women's team sprints for the second relay competition in a row Sunday.
The U. S. Team (Kris Freeman - Andover, NH; Andy Newell - Shaftsbury, VT; Leif Zimmermann - Bozeman, MT; and Garrott Kuzzy - Hayward, WI) finished 11th in the competition, which combined two legs of classic and two legs of sprint racing in very warm and difficult race conditions.
"The relay is not one of our strong events as a nation because you need to have four pretty good distance skiers to have a good relay team. We have a lot of sprinters who are good but we don't have a lot of international level distance skiers," U.S. Sprint Head Coach Chris Grover said. "The crew that we had out there was a younger crew and they skied great.
"One of the highlights for us was that Garrott had the ninth fastest time for his leg and that he was able to catch the Canadians who started about a minute before us," Grover said. "He passed them and he was able to have a really good day after having a hard time in the 30K yesterday."
Course conditions were a challenge for the athletes due to the spring conditions.
"It's a really low snow situation here and it is very warm today. So, they were kind of limited on the courses they could use," Grover said. "The course wasn't marked super well and the Finns on the women's side took a wrong turn that led them off course. No one was disqualified because of the poor markings."
Despite the conditions, Grover went on to say that the Team loves skiing in Falun because of the strong cross country history and the hospitality shown to visitors.
"We always like coming to Falun," Grover said. "The people that organize this do an unbelievably good job. They really are a welcoming committee and we're happy to be here."
The cross country team now moves on to Stockholm, Sweden for the Royal Palace sprint where snow is put down around the king's palace and the athletes compete in a sprint race around it on Wednesday.
2008 VIESSMANN FIS CROSS COUNTRY WORLD CUP
Falun, SWE - Feb. 24, 2008
Men's 10K Classic/Free Relay
1. Norway-2 (Johnsrud Sundby/Jespersen/Eilifsen/Northug)
2. Norway-1 (Svartedal/Hjelmeset/Oestensen/Gjerdalen)
3. Czech Reoublic (Jaks/Bauer/Magal/Koukal)
4. Germany (Teichmann/Filbrich/Sommerfeldt/Angerer)
5. France (Perrillat/Gaillard/Vittoz/Jonnier)
11. United States (Freeman/Newell/Zimmermann/Kuzzy)
Women's 5K Classic/Free Relay
1. Norway-1 (Tyldum/Jacobsen/Steira/Bjoergen)
2. Finland (Kuitunen/Saarinen/Roponen/Sarasoja)
3. Gremany (Boehler/Zeller/Nystad/Sachenbacher Stehle)
4. Sweden-1 (Lindborg/Hansson/Kalla/Rydqvist)
5. Norway-2 (Muerer Stemland/Elden/Svendsen/Pedersen)