FIS Cross Country World Cup (Drammen, Norway): Classic sprints
The cross-country World Cup hit the city on Wednesday, with classic sprints contested in the Oslo suburb of Drammen on snow which had been trucked onto the streets. And the crowd was rewarded with wins by two Norwegian favorites: Maiken Caspersen Falla in the women’s sprint and Johannes Høsflot Klæbo in the men’s race.
In the women’s final, Falla and Natalia Nepryaeva of Russia battled at the lead for much of the race, but Falla pulled away from the field on the last climb to the finish. Stina Nilsson of Sweden and Jessie Diggins of the United States pulled past Nepryaeva in the final few hundred meters to claim spots on the podium; Krista Parmakoski of Finland was fifth and Katja Visnar of Slovenia sixth.
With the win, Falla all but wrapped up the World Cup’s Sprint Cup crystal globe: she is just two points from having it clinched, with one sprint remaining on the calendar. In Falun, Sweden, in ten days, she more or less just has to make the heats to earn her third Sprint Cup in a row.
Also racing for the United States, Sadie Bjornsen and Sophie Caldwell made the quarterfinals, but did not advance past that round. Bjornsen ended the day in 21st and Caldwell in 27th.
Ida Sargent and Rosie Brennan were 47th and 48th in qualifying, followed by Kikkan Randall in 50th and Kaitlynn Miller in 53rd.
For Canada, Emily Nishikawa finished 52nd and Dahria Beatty 55th.
Great Britain’s Nichole Bathe, who raced for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, finished 58th.
In the men’s final, Russia’s Alexander Bolshunov set the pace for most of the heat. Klæbo was on his ski tails, and drew even on the course’s on downhill, where Norwegian teammate Eirik Brandsdal also caught up to them. Skiing back up to the finish, Klæbo ramped up to a furious tempo and was uncatchable. Brandsdal passed Bolshunov to claim second by a healthy margin. Sindre Bjørnestad Skar finished fourth, Kasper Stadaas fifth, and Emil Iversen sixth, all for Norway.
The lone North American to make the heats, Erik Bjornsen, qualified in 26th and finished the day in 18th. Teammate Andy Newell just missed the quarterfinals after finishing 33rd in qualification. Logan Hanneman and Kevin Bolger finished 49th and 50th, and Reese Hanneman 56th.
For Canada, Julien Locke placed 51st in qualifying, Alex Harvey 54th, and Andy Shields 58th.