SOCHI – Norway took the pedal to the metal while the American contingency got roughed up. Norwegian cross-country skier Maiken Caspersen Falla won the gold medal in the women’s short distance sprint on Tuesday. American Sophie Caldwell finished dead last in the final that still left the United States without a medal in the sport.
American Kikkan Randall was the United States best hope to win a cross-country skiing event as its distance covered less than a mile. The shortest of any cross-country event in the Olympics. In the quarterfinal heat with five skiers, Randall gained the lead before the final stretch but she began to fall back in the last 150 feet to be eliminated by seven hundredths of a second. “I was feeling really good and ready to come of that final turn and have a good finish stretch but that final gear wasn’t quite there and unfortunately I fell apart a little bit before the finish,” said Randall. “My number one goal was to come in ready to go and fight for the medal and give it everything I had.”
Her teammate Sophie Caldwell was the last hope for Team USA and she competed in the semis against Norway’s Marit Bjorgen who has eight Olympic medals. At the home stretch, Caldwell sprinted hard next to German Denise Herrman trying to chase down Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg out front. In a complete stunner, Bjorgen tripped up with Slovenia’s Katja Visnar as her pole stuck to Bjorgen’s left ski to cause Olympic legend to fall. Caldwell went to the line with Oestberg where the Norwegian beat her out by a single hundredth of a second.
The finals had three women representing Norway with Sweden, Slovenia and the United States each holding hope that their athlete gained a medal. Caldwell came out of the gate in fifth with Norway taking the lead to set the pace. As the six were making the first turn back to the stadium, Caldwell was tripped up by the ski pole of Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen that caused her to fall taking her out of the competition.
At the final stretch it was Norway and Slovenia to fight for the gold with Vesna Fabjan fighting it out with Falla. It was Falla who got out ahead with Oestberg going to the line with Fabjan. Falla became responsible for capturing Norway’s 100th cross country gold medal. “The rest of this day will be one dream and I won’t understand what happened until I get back to Norway,” Photo evidence gave the silver medal to Oestberg as she beat Fabjan by inches at the finish line. The United States still has a chance to vie for medals in the women’s 10 km classic on Thursday.