The first event at the U-23 FIS Cross-Country Championships went off in “Olympic weather and conditions” – cold temperatures and a blazing sun. The modified 2002 Olympic courses for the women’s and men’s pursuit races challenged even the strongest racers, but the quality of skiing and speed was impressive.
In the Women’s class Justyna Kowalczyk from Poland skied away immediately off the start, and had a lead of 45 seconds already at 4 km into the race. Even though she briefly stopped to recover a bit with 2 km to go on the final skate section, she easily stayed ahead of the rest of the field, lead by Stephanie Santer and Christina Kelder from Italy.
The men’s race was much closer, with a four-person lead group going into the equipment exchange after the 10km classical part. Along the 5km free technique course, this group started to spread out, and in the end Italian Thomas Moriggl looked were strong as he easily V2-skied up the last steep hill.