FIS Cross-Country World Cup (Falun, Sweden): Men’s & women’s freestyle sprints
[UPDATED] Kikkan Randall reached the final for the first time since March 2015 on Saturday in the women’s 1.4-kilometer freestyle sprint at the World Cup in Falun, Sweden. The American qualified 26th and went on to advance in second out of her quarterfinal and semifinal to reach the six-woman final, where she ended up fifth.
Sweden’s Stina Nilsson won the final by one-hundredth of a second over Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla, finishing in 3:00.24 minutes. Nilsson had started the day by qualifying in sixth, 2.52 seconds behind Norway’s Marit Bjørgen, who won the qualifier in 3:00.64. This is Nilsson’s second-straight World Cup sprint win after skipping the freestyle sprint in Toblach, Italy, following the Tour de Ski.
While Bjørgen went on to win her quarterfinal, she finished fifth in her semifinal to end up ninth on the day.
Norway had two on the women’s podium with Heidi Weng in third, 1.88 seconds behind Nilsson. Finland’s Krista Parmakoski placed fourth (+1.99), and Randall was fifth (+2.56) for her best result in two years (she took last season off to have a baby). Sweden’s Jonna Sundling reached the final as well and finished sixth (+8.02).
Five U.S. women qualified for the heats, with Jessie Diggins qualifying fifth and ultimately crashing in her semifinal, where she finished fifth. That put her 10th overall on the day. Sophie Caldwell qualified third and finished fourth in her quarterfinal for 16th on the day, Sadie Bjornsen qualified 17th and also finished fourth in her quarterfinal for 19th overall, and Ida Sargent made the top-30 qualifying cutoff in 30th, then placed fifth in her quarterfinal for 25th overall.
Bjørgen topped the freestyle sprint qualifier on Saturday morning, clocking the fastest time around the 1.4 k course by just 0.08 seconds over Hanna Falk of Sweden. Caldwell qualified third (+1.23), Diggins qualified fifth (+2.39), Bjornsen 17th (+5.04), Randall 26th (+6.64), and Sargent 30th (+8.28). Rosie Brennan (U.S. Ski Team) missed the cut in 37th (+10.90) and Liz Guiney finished 56th (+32.87). The lone Canadian woman racing on Saturday, Cendrine Browne placed 46th (+14.02).
In the men’s 1.4 k freestyle sprint final, Italy’s Federico Pellegrino held off three Norwegians and two Swedes to win in 2:45.77. The defending Sprint World Cup champion qualified second and went on to win his quarterfinal and semifinal before taking the final by six-hundredths of a second.
Norway took the remaining spots on the podium with Emil Iversen in second (+0.06) and Sindre Bjørnestad Skar in third (+0.47). Sweden’s Oskar Svensson was three-hundredths of a second off the podium in fourth (+0.50). The fastest qualifier in 2:34.49, Norway’s Johannes Høsflot Klæbo reached the final and ultimately took fifth (+1.32), and Sweden’s Teodor Peterson placed sixth (+2.08).
Canada’s Len Valjas was the top North American in 10th. He qualified 20th, advanced in second from his quarterfinal and finished fifth in his semifinal.
American Andy Newell was 16th after qualifying in 25th and finishing third in his quarterfinal. U.S. teammate Simi Hamilton followed in 18th, after qualifying 13th and finishing fourth in his quarterfinal.
In the men’s qualifier, Klæbo was 1.05 seconds faster than Pellegrino and another 0.02 seconds faster than Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov in third.
For the U.S., Hamilton qualified 13th (+4.52) and Newell qualified 25th (+6.74). Erik Bjornsen placed 43rd (+9.30) and Matt Gelso 59th (+13.12).
Valjas was the lone Canadian man to make the heats, qualifying 20th (+6.22). The only other starter, Alex Harvey, placed 46th (+9.71).
IBU Open European Championships (Duszniki-Zdrój, Poland): Men’s & women’s pursuits
Russia’s Alexander Loginov racked up his second win of the 2017 International Biathlon Union (IBU) Open European Championships on Saturday in the mens’ 12.5-kilometer pursuit in Duszniki-Zdrój, Poland.
After starting second, 5 seconds behind Bulgaria’s Vladimir Iliev, who won Friday’s sprint, Loginov proceeded to clean three straight stages before missing one on his final standing to cross the line first in 31:46.2 minutes.
“It was not as easy as it seemed, because from the first loop Vladimir set a really good speed,” Loginov said, according to an IBU press release. “Today we had great sunny and windless weather again, so I managed to shoot well. Probably that is why it [looked] so easy.”
Russia took first and second place with Evgeniy Garanichev following 27.8 seconds later, after starting 17th (56 seconds out of first) and shooting 19-for-20 (0+0+1+0).
“After yesterday’s sprint, I managed to work well and to show good result in pursuit, so I’m sure glad to win the silver medal,” Garanichev said, according to the IBU.
Latvia’s Andrejs Rastorgujevs improved on his fourth place in the sprint to reach the pursuit podium in third (+59.5) despite four penalties (0+1+1+2).
“On the last loop I had the information about the guys who were behind me and in front of me,” Rastorgujevs said, according to the IBU. “I was just fighting and did all I could do to get to the podium.”
Bulgaria’s Krasimir Anev, who started third, slipped to fifth (+1:28.6) with two penalties (0+1+1+0), behind Russia’s third man in the top four, Alexey Volkov in fourth (+1:01.6). Iliev as the first starter ended up 11th (+1:41.7) with six penalties (2+2+0+2).
The two Americans who had qualified for the pursuit by placing in the top 60 of Friday’s sprint, Paul Schommer and Alex Howe improved to 48th (+5:07.1) and 51st (+5:42.3), respectively.
Schommer started 58th, just ahead of Howe in 59th, and missed five targets, all in his first two prone stages (3+2+0+0). Howe accumulated four penalties (1+2+1+0).
No Canadians qualified for the pursuit.
[UPDATED] In the women’s 10 k pursuit that followed, Russia’s Irina Starykh picked up her second win and third consecutive podium of the championships, with clean shooting en route to a 19.8-second victory in 30:04.4.
Starykh started third, 38 seconds behind Ukraine’s Juliya Dzhyma and 11 seconds after her Russian teammate Svetlana Sleptsova, respectively. Dzhima missed two on her last two standing stages (0+0+1+1) to slip to second, and Sleptsova dropped one place to third (+32.1) with one prone penalty (0+1+0+0).
Veronika Vítková of the Czech Republic improved from seventh to fourth (+47.8) with two penalties (0+1+1+0), and Russia’s Svetlana Mironova moved all the way up from 13th to fifth (+1:29.6) with three misses (0+1+1+1). Just 0.2 seconds behind her, Poland’s Monika Hojnisz improved from 16th at the start to sixth (+1:29.6) with one penalty (0+0+0+1).
No North Americans qualified for the pursuit.
Open European Championships conclude Sunday with the single mixed and mixed relay.