Local favorite Rene Sommerfeldt of Germany won Friday’s Double pursuit (15 k classic + 15 skating) in Oberstdorf, Germany in a fierce battle with Reto Burgermeister of Switzerland (2nd) and Lukas Bauer (CZE).
The top three finishers skied an impressive classic leg and had a 35 seconds lead at the halfway point (15 kilometer). They continued their grueling pace in the skate part and no one was able to â€œski them inâ€. Their lead was at one point 1 minute. Tactical skiing on the last lap made it possible for the skiers behind to gain a few seconds but that was it.
Bauer was out-skied up the last hill and Sommerfeldt dominated the final sprint. Sommerfeldt’s victory was his first in World cup racing this season. He previously had three second places. He is now the clear World Cup leader.
Traditionally good Norwegian classic skiers were out-classed in both classic and skating. Frode Estil was 58 seconds behind after the classic portion of the event.
Best Norwegian was Skjeldal in 14th place.
Kris Freeman was the top North American in 17th (+1.58 min.) place and again scored valuable World Cup points. Freeman moved up three places during the 15K skating portion Friday on what will be the 2005 World Championships course.
Freeman was timed in 1:18.01.8 with Carl Swenson (Park City, UT) 51st in the 67-racer field. Freeman hung with the top 10 through the early stages of the mass start before dropping back to 20th at the end of the 15K classic technique race…and then, producing the 10th-fastest 15K skate, moving back to the front by three places for his best result since before Christmas.
“It was a scramble. This is a really hard course,” Freeman said. “There was sloppy snow in the classic section and you just had to slog through it. Once we got into the skating race the snow was harder.”
For Freeman, who had a fifth and sixth before Christmas – the best U.S. results since 1984, the race was a pick-me-up after frustrations during the last month. “This is a good confidence booster and hopefully there are better things to come,” he said. “I was getting sick of being in the 20s. Today, I was only about 20 seconds out of the top 10.”
Head Coach Trond Nystad said Freeman has battled sickness for part of the last six weeks “and he skied a smart race, and stayed in it. It was definitely difficult waxing and this is a hard course – lots of uphills – but waxing guys had good skis for him and he did well.
“Carl just didn't have it. He felt he went out conservatively but then it was just one of those days – no good explanation; he just didn't have it. He had the classic race of his life in the Marcialonga [finishing 13th Jan. 25 in the 70K classic race in Italy] and he's getting caught up from that…”
The U.S. team had expected to have four racers competing but officials reversed an earlier decision and said only two could race, leaving Andrew Johnson and Justin Freeman sitting on the sidelines.
The women race a 15K skiathlon (7.5+7.5) Saturday with two-skier team sprints Sunday.
VIESSMAN CROSS COUNTRY WORLD CUP
Oberstdorf, GER – Feb. 13
Men's 30K Skiathlon (15K CL+15K FR)
1. Rene Sommerfeldt, Germany, (1/2) 1:16.02.9
2. Reto Burgermeister, Switzerland, (2/4) 1:16.05.7
3. Lukas Bauer, Czech Republic, (3/6) 1:16.10.
4. Fulvio Valbusa, Italy, (5/2) 1:16.42.5
5. Anders Soedergren, Sweden, (8/1) 1:16.44.5
Â Â Â Â Â –
17. Kris Freeman, Andover, N.H., (20/10) 1:18.10.6
Other North Americans:
38. George Gray, Canada +5.25
44. Chris Jefferies, Canada +6.05
51. Carl Swenson, USA +7.56
For complete results and World Cup standings, go to:
Sources: Langrenn.com and USST