FIS Cross Country World Cup Finals (Falun, Sweden): 10/15 k classic mass starts
Day 2 of World Cup Finals in Falun entailed 10- and 15-kilometer classic mass starts on Saturday, and in the first race of the day, Finland’s Krista Pärmäkoski pulled out a thrilling finishing-sprint victory over Norway’s Marit Bjørgen.
After American Jessie Diggins led early in the first 2.5 k loop, Bjørgen set the tone from the front for most of the race. With less than a kilometer to go, Norwegian powered up the final horseshoe-shaped climb in first, with Pärmäkoski and Bjørgen’s Norwegian teammate Ingvild Flugstad Østberg just behind her. The three had dropped the field while lapping through the stadium around the 7.5 k.
While Østberg fell off the pace on that final uphill, Bjørgen accelerated as she took a few quick strides over the top, gaining a few meters on Pärmäkoski as they headed into the descent. The finishing stretch is long in Falun, and Pärmäkoski was able to come on strong just before she and Bjørgen entered the final 100 meters before the finish. There, Pärmäkoski’s double-pole speed not only matched Bjørgen, but beat her, as Pärmäkoski passed her with several meters to go and took the win by 0.2 seconds in 26:00.5 minutes. It was Pärmäkoski’s second win of the season and fourth of her career (including time-of-day pursuit stage wins).
Just behind Pärmäkoski and Bjørgen, who congratulated each other immediately at the finish, Østberg finished 5.1 seconds back in third. Five women fought for fourth place, with Sweden’s Ebba Andersson taking it (+14.5) ahead of Japan’s Masako Ishida in fifth (+14.8), Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla in sixth (+15.2), Austria’s Teresa Stadlober in seventh (+15.4), and Diggins in eighth (+15.5).
Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen was the next finisher across the line in ninth (+24.8), then Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen in 10th (+26.2) and American Sadie Bjornsen in 11th (+26.3).
Canada’s Emily Nishikawa was the next North American in 36th (+1:31.1), and she led her teammates Cendrine Browne, who placed 50th (+2:05.7), Dahria Beatty in 61st (+2:46.6) and Zina Kocher in 69th (+6:12).
For the U.S., Sophie Caldwell finished 41st (+1:36.1), Rosie Frankowski 44th (+1:43.7), Caitlin Patterson 47th (+1:54.8), Ida Sargent 52nd (+2:10.2), Liz Stephen 54th (+2:20.0), Kikkan Randall 57th (+2:34.1), and Kaitlynn Miller 64th (+2:50.7). Rosie Brennan did not start.
In the men’s 15 k classic mass start on Saturday afternoon, Russia’s 21-year-old Alexander Bolshunov notched his first-career World Cup win after reaching the podium seven other times this season (placing third in six of those seven races).
Bolshunov hung in the pack and took the lead at the start of the final lap at 11.25 k, ahead of four of his Russian teammates, Alexey Chervotkin in second, Evgeniy Belov in third, Andrey Larkov in fourth, and Maxim Vylegzhanin in fifth. Behind them, Switzerland’s Dario Cologna skied just ahead of Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Canada’s Alex Harvey, who were among 29 skiers within four seconds of first.
While Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson led the final climb before the stadium, Bolshunov caught him on the downhill and out-double-poled him in the finishing stretch, taking first by 1.3 seconds in 36:59.8. Halfvarsson finished second and Italy’s Francesco de Fabiani scored his second World Cup podium of the season in third (+3.1).
Kazakhstan’s Alexey Poltoranin missed the podium by 0.6 seconds in fourth (+3.7), Chervotkin followed in fifth (+5.2), ahead of Cologna in sixth (+5.6) and Italy’s Federico Pellegrino in seventh (+5.6), after they finished together. Sundby and his Norwegian teammate Niklas Dyrhaug also crossed the line at the same time in eighth (+6.3) and ninth (+6.3), respectively, just 0.1 seconds ahead of another one of their teammates, Sjur Røthe, in 10th (+6.4).
Less than five seconds later, Harvey finished 20th (+10.7), ahead of Norway’s Johannes Høsflot Klæbo in 22nd (+13.6). Klæbo slipped out of contention on the third of four laps, as he dropped from fourth to 22nd in less than two kilometers.
Canada’s Devon Kershaw finished 26th (+14.6) for his fourth-straight race in the top 30 (including his 26th-place finish in the Olympic 50 k classic mass start), Graeme Killick placed 41st (+1:13) and Julien Locke was 81st (+3:29).
Erik Bjornsen was the top American man in 52nd (+1:47.1), Simi Hamilton finished 62nd (+2:06.4), Kevin Bolger was 69th (+2:27.1), David Norris 70th (+2:31.2), Scott Patterson 71st (+2:40.6), Paddy Caldwell 75th (+2:52.7), and Andy Newell 86th (+4:47).
World Cup Finals conclude with 10/15 k freestyle pursuits on Sunday.
IBU World Cup (Oslo, Norway): Women’s relay + men’s pursuit
France won the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup women’s 4 x 6 k relay to start the day at Holmenkollen, ahead of Germany and Italy, while the Canadian women’s team (Sarah Beaudry, Julia Ransom, Emma Lunder, and Rosanna Crawford) placed 11th and the U.S. (Clare Egan, Susan Dunklee, Joanne Reid, and Emily Dreissigacker) came back from 21st to finish 15th.
In the men’s 12.5 k pursuit that followed, France’s Martin Fourcade won his 10th race at Holmenkollen, putting himself 49 points ahead of Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Bø with three individual races in Tyumen, Russia, remaining. US Biathlon’s Sean Doherty tied his second-best result this season in 17th and his teammate Lowell Bailey raced up to 28th with the 19th-fastest time of day. Leif Nordgren placed 40th and Tim Burke was 47th, while Canada’s Scott Gow finished 51st and Christian Gow was 54th.