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Mon., Dec. 5, 2011, 11:42 a.m.

Eastern Washington woman reaches milestone for U.S. x-c skiers

 Kikkan Randall of the USA, right, wins the Free Sprint Final in front of second placed Natalia Matveeva of Russia, left, during the Cross Country World Cup in Duesseldorf, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011. The next day, she finished second in the sprint relay, teaming with Sadie Bjornsen of Winthrop. The World Cup is held on artificial snow in the heart of the western German city of Duesseldorf, close to the river Rhine. (Associated Press)
Kikkan Randall of the USA, right, wins the Free Sprint Final in front of second placed Natalia Matveeva of Russia, left, during the Cross Country World Cup in Duesseldorf, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011. The next day, she finished second in the sprint relay, teaming with Sadie Bjornsen of Winthrop. The World Cup is held on artificial snow in the heart of the western German city of Duesseldorf, close to the river Rhine. (Associated Press)

NORDIC SKI RACING -- Rookie national team member Sadie Bjornsen of Winthrop, Wash., teamed with Alaskan Kikkan Randall to make history for U.S. Women cross-country ski racing by finishing second in the sprint relay at the World Cup finals yesterday in Dusseldorf, Germany.

It’s the first time U.S women have won medals in a sprint relay. 

The U.S. Ski Association says the previous best for U.S. women was a fourth-place finish in a January 2009 Olympic test event at Whistler Olympic Park. 

Norway’s Mari Eide and Maiken Caspersen Falla edged the U.S. team by 1.6 seconds.

Randall says in the team announcement that the relay medal topped her individual victory on Saturday as she won the freestyle sprint, her fourth career gold in World Cup sprint.

Bjornsen says she now understands why skiers come back year after year. 

Incidentally, in 2003, at the age of 13, Bjornsen became the youngest women's champion at the annual 10K Langlauf on Mount Spokane.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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