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by Peter Gagarin

A great way to finish the week. Don’t know the details yet, but it sure looks like all 6 of our skiers had really good days. And Alex showed how good she is, started in 6th after Ali’s opening leg, Alex came in in 5th, just the 4 powerhouse teams (Sweden, Norway, Russia, and Finland) ahead of her, and not that far ahead of her. Good for her, and good for all of them.

A few photos are already up on the US Team blog.

And the results are at http://www.emit.nu/resultat/live/110322/

A little more from today’s relay, the last event from this year’s Ski-O world Champs.

First, a good solid result for the men, highlighted by Adrian Owens final leg. I’d have to do a little research to be sure, but I think this is the best they have ever done. (Well, I just checked out the 2007 and 2009 WOCs, and the men were about 55% behind in the relay both times. This time they were 35% behind. A huge improvement.) They may have been overlooked a bit given the women’s results, but this has been a big step forward for the men too.

Second, today was the best race of the week for Alex Jospe, our best ski-orienteer in recent years. In her words:

“This marks the first-ever ski WOC relay where I've been excited to race it. Especially after Ali's finish yesterday, I knew that I might be getting the tag in a position I'm unused to...

Ali came through in 6th, just behind Finland, Czech Republic, and Switzerland, a bit behind the leaders. I caught up to Switzerland after a quick map pickup, and she wasn't going super fast, but, she had a nice wide butt for drafting behind, so I hid in her draft down the windy big trail, and then again across the marsh, where we passed the Czech girl. Liisa Antilla passed us early, and she was on a mission, I couldn't have gone with her. I had longer forks for 2-4, but I nailed them, and was chasing Ladina (SUI) back across the marsh, and re-passed the Czech girl, who had also been on the shorter loop.

Unfortunately, things tilted upwards after that, and I got slow. About how I felt climbing Mt. Washington. Josefine Engstrom (SWE) flew by me up the climb, and I didn't even try to match her pace. Sigh. Anyway, I could see Ladina the whole way up, and I made contact as we double poled across the top of the hill - I may be unable to climb, but I can double pole. Then came the awesome downhill, and although I lost contact around #10, it was just for a brief instant, and I didn't lose any time, although it was certainly risky to keep skiing just then... Dropped Ladina on the downhill, and came blasting into the finish only to find that I had gone too fast, and Cristina wasn't quite ready yet. It was only 10 seconds or so that I was waiting, but of course that feels like three minutes.

Cristina headed out, and we were anxiously taking splits to see if she'd hold on to 7th - I'd brought us in in 5th, but the Czech and Swiss girls caught up quickly. She did a pretty awesome leg, ending up less than twice the leaders' time, and holding onto 8th (Lithuania got her somewhere on the climb - they never saw each other). This may be the best-ever finish for the US women in a ski WOC relay - I think we were 8th in Japan, but that was out of 8 full teams. This year we beat Belarus, Hungary, Great Britain, and Japan! So proud of my team. And so happy to end the week with a clean race.”