Scoggins: Cross-country medal favorite Randall, others falter

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 12, 2014 - 12:05 AM
hide

Kikkan Randall of the U.S. was leading the freestyle sprint down the stretch before running out of gas.

Photo: Matthias Schrader • Associated Press,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

– Kikkan Randall held the lead in the freestyle sprint with the final stretch just around a bend. She needed only a top-two finish to guarantee a spot in the semifinals of an Olympic cross-country ski race that many expected her to medal in, possibly even return home with gold.

Randall’s lead began to dwindle with the finish line in sight. A trio of competitors breathing down her neck closed the gap as Randall labored, her energy apparently on empty.

One racer passed her. Then another. And another.

Gulp.

Randall, 31, the decorated American racer and ardent ambassador of the U.S. women’s cross-country program, finished without a medal.

Again.

“It’s tough,” Randall said after the women’s sprint, her eyes filled with tears. “That’s the sport, right? You prepare your whole life for something like this and it’s over in 2½ minutes.”

This was not the outcome the United States had planned. The women’s cross-country team entered these Olympics with unprecedented buzz and optimism. Armed with the strongest and deepest lineup in team history, the American women arrived in Sochi with a realistic expectation that they would win their first medal in cross-country ever.

But as they learned again Tuesday, that maiden medal won’t just be handed to them. The Americans bubbled with excitement after advancing all four of their racers, including Afton’s Jessie Diggins, to the quarterfinals in the sprint free competition. That in itself marked progress.

“That says a lot about where our country is coming from and where we’re headed,” Diggins said. “A few years ago we would have maybe gotten one person in.”

The good vibes didn’t last for long. Diggins, Randall and Ida Sargent all failed to make it out of the quarterfinals. Sophie Caldwell reached the final, but she finished a distant sixth. Diggins finished 13th, Randall 18th and Sargent 19th.

The performance left team members dejected, mostly because of what that race meant to Randall, a four-time Olympian who represents the face of the Americans’ progress in a sport dominated by the Norwegians.

“My heart broke a little bit,” Diggins said. “Of course I want to race well for me, but mostly I was hoping the best for her. I was hoping that she would be able to fulfill her dreams.”

Randall has made it her crusade to grow women’s cross-country domestically, both in participation numbers and international success. The U.S. team has chipped away at that brick wall in recent years, winning at levels once thought impossible. The last frontier, of course, is the Olympics and proving that they can win medals and compete with the Norwegians.

“That’s been one of the coolest parts about this run into Sochi,” Randall said. “For the first time we’ve been in medal contention in almost four decades. It’s been incredible attention for the sport. We’ve already accomplished so much.”

One thing, one very big thing, remains elusive. Randall desperately wanted that medal in the sprint free, which would have provided a tangible sign that the Americans have arrived. Randall admitted afterward that she’s “been thinking about this race for a long time.”

It was right there for her to take. She had it in her grasp, at least a chance to advance and show that this was her time, the Americans’ time, to join the big leagues. And then she ran out of steam.

“That final gear just wasn’t there,” she said. “Unfortunately, I fell apart right before the finish and didn’t get a good lunge in. I’m sure I’ll be reliving those moments hundreds of times in my head.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - LP: J. Peavy 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: K. Herrera 7
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 90 FINAL
Orlando 89
Brooklyn 86 FINAL
Boston 100
Washington 100 FINAL
New York 103
Cleveland 92 FINAL
Memphis 96
Minnesota 110 FINAL
Milwaukee 91
Atlanta 117 FINAL
San Antonio 107
Portland 86 FINAL
LA Lakers 94
Phoenix 105 FINAL
LA Clippers 108
Toronto 0 Postponed
Ottawa 0
Philadelphia 5 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Washington 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Buffalo 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 2
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who should get the Twins' managing job?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close