“This is definitely the last showdown”
Gunnison resident Rebecca Dussault continues her quest for the 2010 U.S. Olympic Nordic team, racing this week in the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships in Anchorage, Alaska, January 2-8.
The championships offer Dussault one last opportunity to qualify for the team, and strong results from Dussault could help secure her a spot.
“This is definitely the last showdown,” says Dussault.
Dussault opened the week on fire, taking second place in the sprint freestyle. While Dussault typically shines in the distance events, everything came together for her in the first sprint event.
“I just felt great and the course really suited my strength,” explains Dussault. “I was on it in every way.”
The day hung in the balance for Dussault when she lined up for the semi-final heat with a group that included Kikkan Randall, a silver medalist at the World Championships and the top-ranked sprinter in the United States.
“It was a stacked field,” says Dussault.
With the top three advancing to the finals, Dussault opted to lock in behind Randall to advance to the finals. It worked and she did the same in the finals to take second place overall.
Dussault then lined up on Monday, January 4 for the 10-kilometer freestyle (skate) race, a race she expected to excel in. She was feeling strong as she lined up, looking to make a statement for her spot on the U.S. team.
“I had the most incredible warm-up,” says Dussault.
Unfortunately, the men’s race preceded the women’s race and the course was torn up and soft. In addition, Dussault’s personal expectations took their toll on her and she found herself struggling from the start.
“As soon as I started racing I started feeling tired,” says Dussault. “The deep sugary snow really wore me out.”
She bounced back between fifth and sixth place during the race ultimately finishing in sixth place overall with a time of 29 minutes, 37 seconds.
While Dussault hoped to finish higher, she did place above two women who are also vying for spots on the U.S. squad, one of whom is a current member of the team.
The championships close with a 10-kilometer race on Wednesday, January 6 and then the classic sprint event on Friday, January 8.
The first eight spots (four men and four women) for the team will be announced on Monday, January 11. Then, if more spots open up, additional skiers will be added on Friday, January 29.