FIS Nordic World Championships (Lahti, Finland): Classic team sprints
Defending champions Norway repeated gold in the women’s team sprint, with Heidi Weng and Maiken Caspersen Falla crossing the finish line first in Lahti, Finland. On the second-to-last loop, it looked like Russia could have something to say about that. Yulia Belorukova put in a furious sprint up the course’s biggest climb, and then beat Weng to the exchange. But her teammate Natalia Matveeva could not match the pace when Falla put on her own sprint on the last uphill. Russia finished second for silver, +5.56.
The competition for bronze was closer, with Germany, Finland, Sweden, and the United States going out of the stadium for the last loop together in chase of the Norwegian and Russian leaders. The last climb was defining in the race for bronze, with Jessie Diggins of the United States staying closest to Sweden’s Stina Nilsson. Diggins caught Nilsson on the downhill and was able to stay just ahead of the Swede to the finish, claiming bronze (+18.38) along with teammate Sadie Bjornsen. It was a return to the team sprint podium for Diggins: after winning the team sprint at 2013 World Championships with Kikkan Randall, she teamed up with Sophie Caldwell in 2015 but the pair finished eighth.
Nilsson and Ida Ingemarsdotter settled for fourth (+18.57), and the Finnish team of Aino-Kaisa Saarinen and Kerttu Niskanen finished fifth (+23.02).
The Canadian team of Cendrine Browne and Dahria Beatty was seventh in their semifinal and landed 13th overall.
In the men’s team sprint, Norway set a high pace from the beginning, with phenom Johannes Høsflot Klæbo attacking on the steep uphill every time he skied. On his second and third loops, he tagged off to Emil Iversen with gaps of just over five seconds to the rest of the field. But Iversen had a hard time holding the lead, in part because of Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov, who had won the 30 k skiathlon the day before and put in a huge effort to catch Iversen on the fourth loop of the team sprint.
On the final loop, Finland’s Iivo Niskanen bridged the gap up to Iversen, mostly on the steep uphill and then also with ski speed on the downhill. But the time the pair entered the stadium, Niskanen had caught the Norwegian and was moving with higher speed. He decided to switch tracks to overtake Iversen, but Iversen decided to switch tracks just a second later, without checking one last time to make sure the track was clear. He fell, taking out Niskanen with him.
That allowed Ustiugov and Italy’s Federico Pellegrino to go sailing by to claim gold and silver (+2.14) with their teammates Nikita Kriukov and Dietmar Noeckler. It was the second gold for Russia in the event in three World Championships; Kriukov and Alexey Petukhov won in 2013, and also took silver in 2015.
Niskanen got up and claimed bronze (+8.64 with Sami Jauhojärvi), swearing as he crossed the finish line; with a broken pole, Iversen limped across the line in fourth (+18.42). He was called to a jury meeting but ultimately no teams were disqualified because of the crash.
Erik Bjornsen of the United States won a sprint finish for fifth (+23.58) with teammate Simi Hamilton), besting Lenny Valjas (+27.02 with teammate Alex Harvey) of Canada.
FIS Nordic World Championships (Lahti, Finland): Nordic combined 4 x 5 k team event
[UPDATED] After sweeping the first individual nordic-combined competition of 2017 Nordic World Championships on Friday, Germany achieved gold as a team, with Björn Kircheisen, Eric Frenzel, Fabian Rießle, and Johannes Rydzek winning the 4 x 5-kilometer team event in 47:57.3.
The Germans combined for the best jumping score of 11 teams and started the relay in first, 44 seconds ahead of Japan in second. Norway started 1:07 minutes back in fifth but rose to second place (+41.7), with Magnus Moan, Mikko Kokslein, Magnus Krog, and Jørgen Graabak. Moan raced them into third at the first exchange, then Kokslein secured second, which they held onto for the remaining two legs.
“It was our goal to ski a controlled race,” Germany’s Frenzel told ZDF. “Not really look at how the gap was developing, but just make our own race. And put up a little more pressure towards the end of each leg. That worked well, that was a wickedly cool team performance today. And I am just happy that we could put a little golden crown on the whole event today.”
“I think today you could see again that we all worked together and enjoyed the competition,” Rydzek added. “We were all happy about each other’s performance, and just rewarded ourselves for hard hard work.”
Austria started fourth, 1:05 behind Norway, and clinched bronze (+1:03.7) with Bernhard Gruber, Mario Seidl, Philipp Orter, and Paul Gerstgraser. Gruber initially raced them into second at the first exchange, but they relinquished one spot and hung on for third, ahead of Japan in fourth (+1:06).
Japan (Hideaki Nagai, Takehiro Watanabe, Yoshito Watabe, and Akito Watabe) jumped to second, but found themselves in fourth at every exchange.
Finland took fifth, Italy sixth, France seventh, and the U.S. eighth (+3:27.2) with Bryan Fletcher, Taylor Fletcher, Ben Berend, and Ben Loomis. The Americans started the race in seventh and were in sixth after the first two exchanges, but slipped to eighth on the third leg.
IBU Youth/Junior World Championships (Osrblie, Slovakia): Youth & junior pursuits
Four seems to be Chloe Levins’s lucky number. After a career breakthrough of fourth place in the pursuit at last year’s Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Lillehammer, Norway, the 18-year-old Vermonter raced to fourth in the youth women’s 7.5-kilometer pursuit on Sunday at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Youth/Junior World Championships in Osrblie, Slovakia.
Levins started the race in 11th and worked her way up to fourth with clean shooting in three stages. She missed two in the first prone but rebounded and held off Ukraine’s Khrystyna Dmytrenko by seven seconds for fourth place. Levins finished 1:55.5 minutes behind the winner, Italy’s Irene Lardschneider, who started the race first and held on for her second-straight gold medal despite four penalties (0+0+2+2), finishing in 26:57.1. France’s Lou Jeanmonnot-Laurent rose from fourth to second place with 19-for-20 shooting (0+0+1+0), and Italy’s Samuela Comola took bronze (+1:08.5) for the second-straight race with two misses (1+0+1+0).
Three U.S. women qualified for the pursuit, with Amanda Kautzer finishing 42nd (+6:16.2) after starting 59th and shooting 80 percent (1+0+2+1), and Grace Gilliland finishing 55th (+8:32.1) with six penalties (2+3+1+0).
Canada’s Shilo Rousseau followed in 54th (+9:02.1) with eight misses (3+1+2+2).
Results: Youth women
In the junior women’s 10 k pursuit, Canada’s Megan Bankes raced to 16th for the best finish for a North American in that race. The gold medalist in last week’s 12.5 k individual, Bankes finished 13th in Saturday’s sprint and thus started in that position, 1:25 out of first. She ended up 16th with four penalties (0+1+2+1) and finished 2:15.8 behind the winner, Russia’s Valeriia Vasnetcova, who started 24th and worked her way all the way up to first with clean shooting.
Vasnetcova was the only one to clean the four-stage pursuit on Sunday, and in doing so, she achieved her first gold of the championships and second of her career at Youth/Junior Worlds after her team won last year’s youth relay in Romania.
Coming off a sprint win, Italy’s Michela Carrara started first and took second at the finish, 10 seconds behind Vasnetcova with three misses (1+1+1+0). Norway’s Ingrid Tandrevold scored her second-straight medal as well, after starting second and finishing third (+10.8), with two penalties (0+0+1+1).
Canada’s Nadia Moser had her best result of the championships in 30th (+3:43.5), moving up one place after starting 31st, with three penalties (0+1+0+2). Emily Dickson finished 47th for the second-straight day (+6:29.9) with four penalties (1+0+1+2).
Siena Ellingson was the lone American to start after placing 18th in Saturday’s sprint. She finished 41st (+5:24.7) with seven misses (1+2+1+3).
Results: Junior women
In the junior men’s 12.5 k pursuit, Canada’s Pearce Hanna rocketed to 23rd after starting 47th, shooting 17-for-20 after cleaning the first two stages (0+0+1+2) for his first top 30 of the championships. Hanna finished 3:12 behind the winner, Russia’s Igor Malinovskii who picked up his second-straight gold.
Malinovskii started first and finished in 32:39.8, 13 seconds ahead of second place, with four penalties (0+1+2+1). Norway’s Sindre Pettersen took the silver medal after starting in eighth and posting the fastest course time to overcome five misses (2+1+1+1). Belarus’s Anton Smolski moved up from fourth at the start to reach the podium in third (+27.4) with five misses as well (0+0+3+2).
All four Canadian junior men qualified for the pursuit. Trevor Kiers led them in 39th (+5:13.3), after starting 48th, for his best result of the championships. Jules Burnotte placed 43rd (+5:35.3), up from 55th, for his best result as well, and Zachari Bolduc finished 57th (+8:18.3). Kiers missed five targets (2+0+1+2), Burnotte had seven misses (3+1+1+2), and Bolduc missed eight (2+3+2+1).
For the U.S., Cody Johnson finished 55th (+7:19.5) with nine penalties (2+1+2+4) and Travis Cooper 59th (+8:46.2) with eight misses (5+0+1+2).
Results: Junior men
In the youth men’s 10 k pursuit, the first race of the day on Sunday, two Canadians finished in the top 30, with Leo Grandbois in 22nd and Adam Runnalls in 27th.
For Grandbois, it was his first time outside the top 15 of the championships after he had won the youth men’s 12.5 k individual last Wednesday and finished 14th in Friday’s 7.5 k sprint. He had to ski six penalty loops on Sunday (0+2+2+2), dropping outside the top 20 after the third shooting. Grandbois finished 3:21.8 behind the winner, France’s Emilien Claude, who won the sprint as well to start the pursuit first.
Claude, who had four penalties (1+1+0+2) and finished in 29:22.4, held off Italy’s hard-charging Cedric Christille by 16 seconds after Christille shot just two penalties (0+0+1+1) to move up from fourth to second for his first medal in his first Youth World Championships. Germany’s Danilo Riethmüller rose from sixth to third place (+30.7) despite four misses (1+0+1+2). For the German, it was his second bronze of these championships after placing third in the 12.5 k individual.
Canada’s Runnalls moved up from 32nd at the start to 27th at the finish (+3:47.5) for his first top 30 of the championships. He had five penalties (1+3+1+0), but cleaned the last stage to move into the top 30.
Vasek Cervenka was the lone American to qualify in the youth men’s pursuit, and he moved up from 49th at the start to 30th (+3:52) with five penalties (1+1+1+2).
Results: Youth men