USA Sprints to Dresden Podium
In front of huge crowds in the historic German city of Dresden, Sophie Caldwell (Peru, Vt.) and Ida Sargent (Orleans, Vt.) sprinted to third behind two powerhouse Swedish teams in a World Cup freestyle team sprint Sunday. It was a career-best match for Sargent. Italy beat Sweden for the men's victory.
The podium finish for Caldwell and Sargent matched their finish in the Olympic test event at Alpensia in PyeongChang, South Korea last February. The duo had been fifth in Planica, Slovenia a year earlier. Caitlin Patterson (Anchorage) and Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) teamed up to finish eight for the women, as did Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) and Simi Hamilton (Aspen, Colo.) for the men.
In the second women's semi-final, it was an all USA show as Caldwell and Sargent took the win with Patterson and Randall right behind. In the final, it was a tight battle most of the way between Sweden, Germany and the USA's two teams plus Switzerland and Slovenia. Sargent handed off to Caldwell for the final leg with the Swiss in the lead. Caldwell worked her way through traffic on the short, flat sprint course to join the Swedes for a finish sprint.
"That was a really fun and exciting race and I'm so happy to be on the podium with Sophie," said Sargent. "The course was so fast so the pack stayed together. We tried to stay near the front and stay out of trouble."
The high speed of the course also created chaos in the tag zone. "We had a couple of rough tags where we lost a little time to the Swedes but luckily we stayed on our feet," said Sargent.
"It was another great day for our team," said Caldwell, who scored her second straight sprint podium. "Our goal was to stay towards the front, stay out of trouble, and save some legs for the last lap of each heat. I think we executed our plan really well and I was proud of how both Ida and I skied."
With Olympic qualifying now completed, the World Cup tour now heads to Planica, Slovenia for a weekend of classic sprint and distance. Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) and Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) will rejoin the team after taking a one week break. The full Olympic team will be announced the week of January 22.