The first ever WOC Mixed Relay was a day of mixed emotions for Team USA.
As this is the first year of the event at WOC, teams were assigned start numbers alphabetically. This meant USA had bib number 34 and a start position at the very back of the pack. It seems that it doesn't matter whether she starts at the back of the front, Sam rises to the challenge and gets past those unworthy of being in front. She had yet another killer run, clawing her way past more than half of the other teams. Sam's hard work meant USA exchanged in 10th place, just 27 seconds behind the lead (Emma Klingenberg from Denmark) and a minute ahead of Louise Oram from Canada.
Early in the race there were several shots of Team USA on the tv coverage since they were close behind the leaders.
|Ross waits for Sam at the exchange!|
|Sam, just after tagging off to Ross.|
Ross had the first of the men's legs (and this has nothing to do with the fact that Sam and Ross are getting married later this year... I think) and had some good company part of the way, including Norway's Øystein Kvaal Østerbø for a bit. It was rainy in Trento and Ross says he had trouble staying upright on the slippery pavement. He did survive without any wipeouts (as far as I know), a very solid run though unhappy with his route choice on the long leg. Ross handed off to Ethan in 23rd, about 2:30 behind leading team Belgium and 25 seconds ahead of Will Critchley from Canada.
Ethan had some trouble in the beginning of the course, accidentally running from the second start triangle on the wrong side of the map (there was a map flip partway through the course, so both sides of the map were printed with course on them). He recovered, punched 1, and continued the course but by the time the exchange came USA was about 8 minutes behind the lead, in 27th, with Canada's Damian Konotopetz having already come through. The challenge to Ali was to claw back as many places as possible!
|Ali ready for the final leg!|
Ali took off on the anchor leg and sped her way around the course, reeling in Canada, Japan, and at the last possible moment fought off China for an apparent 24th place. Those of us spectating from our computers got a taste of the energy in the arena as announcer Per Forsberg shouted excitedly in his adorable accent about the close finish!
Unfortunately, the team was disqualified for a missing punch on the third leg. It's of course disappointing not to have an official result in the sprint relay but there are still several races left and everyone on the team is hungry for more! (Cue Rise Like a Phoenix, turned up to 11.)
Tomorrow is another rest day with the Long coming on Wednesday. Stay tuned for more on the continuing adventures of Team USA!