Canadian Chandra Crawford wrapped up her pre-season tune-up in fine form, placing second to fellow World Cup sprint star Ida Ingemarsdotter (SWE) in the Bruksvallarna, Sweden skate sprint.
Crawford qualified in 7th, three seconds down on Stina Nilsson (SWE) before placing second to Katja Visnar (SLO) in the first quarterfinal, in the process bumping teammate Dasha Gaiazova, who was third in that heat.
In the semis, Crawford returned the favor, besting Visnar as both women advanced to the final.
“I felt better and better with every heat, getting more and more into it,” Crawford told FasterSkier in a post-race interview. “It was fun to mix it up with the Swedes and some Slovenian talent out there.”
In the final the Canadian, couldn’t get the better of Ingemarsdotter, who won two World Cup races last year, but kept the edge on Visnar, relegating the Slovenian to third.
“I just got psyched up listening to music like I always do [at the start of the final], jumping around and just thinking about how I want to feel when I cross the finish line,” Crawford said.
She added that she doesn’t usually make a race plan based on her competition, but said “generally my plan is try to be in second or third, ideally second. That’s the best place to be at all times right ‘til the finish line.”
She implemented that plan, letting Visnar lead for three-quarters of the fast-skiing 1.2-kilometer course, before attacking after the downhill.
Ingemarsdotter moved as well, and took over the lead on the last small climb, setting up the drive down the homestretch.
“From my perspective, I was just following Ida and she was flying,” Crawford said.
Gaiazova qualified in 14th and teammate Perianne Jones in 17th. Both were bounced in the quarters, placing 13th and 18th respectively.
Jones told FasterSkier that it felt good to race but that “it wasn’t a great day.”
She was more pleased with her performance on Friday, when she placed 14th in the 5km classic.
“I think Friday took a little more out of me than it normally would,” Jones said. “I just have to get back to that state where I can recover from a hard effort in a day or so.”
The men’s race featured a similar level of talent, including 2012 Sprint Cup champion Teodor Peterson (SWE) and the always dangerous Emil Joensson (SWE).
Joensson, always a strong qualifier, set the time to beat and earned bib #1 for the heats, with the lone Canadian, Alex Harvey advancing in 11th.
Harvey placed second to Joensson in the quarters, advancing to the semis, but he knew the conditions were not ideal for success.
“It was just way too short, 2:15 with all the work in the first minute or so,” Harvey wrote to FasterSkier in an email. “The sprinters didn’t have time to get tired!”
He said he skied aggressively, attacking hard over the top and free-skating the entire downhill.
“I got by four guys in my quarterfinal and two in my semi, but it wasn’t enough to move through,” Harvey wrote.
Harvey ended up fourth in his semi, albeit a particularly stacked heat. Joensson crossed first, followed by Peterson and then Robin Bryntesson (SWE), another strong Swedish sprinter.
“I feel great about this weekend,” Harvey concluded. “I did a ton of training before I flew over here, then some more…in Ostersund so considering that, I think I skied pretty well.”
In the final, Peterson out-kicked Joensson in the homestretch to take the win with Calle Halvarsson (SWE) rounding out the top three.
Alex Matthews contributed reporting.