Note: See video clips from today's race: http://sport.etv.ee/index.php?019
Czech Katerina Neumannova, calling it “the greatest day of my life as an athlete,” won the women's race in 26:27.6. Russian Julia Tchepalova was silver medalist, just .1.2 seconds back, and third place went to World Cup leader Marit Bjoergen of Norway in 26:42.8.
In the men's 15K, Italians went 1-2 with Pietro Piller Cottrer gold medalist in 34:49.7 and Fulvio Valbusa second at 35:00.9. The bronze medal went to Norwegian Tore Ruud Hofstad (35:03.9).
Top U.S. result in the two freestyle technique races was Sarah Konrad (Laramie, WY) in 24th place in the women's 10K race.Konrad, who will compete in the biathlon World Championships after racing in Oberstdorf, finished in 28:40.9 with Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK), the only other U.S. starter, was 66th.
“It was an awesome race for Sarah. We've known she was fast for a long time, but it's nice she came over here and showed it right away,” said Coach Pete Vordenberg. “She's such a good climber – that's where she makes up some time – and this course with its hills was right for her.
Andrew Johnson (Greensboro, VT) led the three U.S. men skiers, finishing 46th in the field of 122.
“And for Andrew, it was definitely a step in the right direction. It's not where he's capable of skiing – he's shown he can be a top-30 skier – but he had a plan, and he wanted to ski it even, and this was very positive for him.”
Vordenberg said the changing weather didn't affect the hilly trails, which were covered by more than two feet of snow this week in three days of storms. “Conditions were perfect and the courses were in great shape,” he said. “We had great wax.”
Canada’s Beckie Scott opened the 2005 Cross-Country Skiing World Championships with a 14th-place finish in Oberstdorf, Germany on Thursday.
The 2002 Olympic gold medallist, of Vermilion, Alta., who took the first half of the season off to prepare for this week’s World Championships, completed the 10-kilometre skate event with a time of 27 minutes 47.2 seconds.
“It was not a bad start, but we definitely want to finish a little better,” said Dave Wood, head coach, Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team. “We have assembled a great group here in Germany that combines veteran leaders and talented youngsters, and we’re going to look at them to continue to improve over the course of the event.”
Leading the Canadian men in the 15-kilometre skate event was Chris Jefferies of Chelsea Que., who overcame a foot injury to make his way through the German track in 56th place. The 27-year-old, who joined the rest of the Canadian team on the World Cup circuit in January, crossed the finish line just 2:46.1 seconds off the pace, posting a time of 37:35.8.
There were three other Canadians making their mark on the international stage in the men’s event. Dan Roycroft of Port Sydney, Ont. skied his way into 64th place (38:05.2), while Gordon Jewett of Toronto was 69th (38:29.2). Rounding out the Canadian results was Red Deer, Alta., native, Drew Goldsack, who finished the day in 77th position at 39:21.9. There were 122 of the world’s best cross-country skiers in Wednesday’s event.
Two years ago, the Italians had the World Championships at home in Val di Fiemme. But bouts with the flu kept them from achieving their goals. Thursday's winner told Eurosport.com ( http://www.eurosport.com ):
“All season long, I was focusing on this race,” Piller Cottrer said after his first world title.
“It's incredible. On top of that, my room-mate finished second,” he added after he and Valbusa hugged while tears welled in their eyes in the finish area.
The 2005 World Championships will continue on Saturday in Oberstdorf, Germany the men’s and women’s pursuit competition.
Sources: US Ski Team, Cross Country Canada, Eurosport