Holmenkollen, NOR-Canada’s Sara Renner woke up this morning with the willingness to put her body through the ultimate mental and physical test – a 30 kilometre classic World Cup cross-country ski race in Holmenkollen, Norway on Saturday.
The Canmore, Alta. native, who is known more in the World Cup circles as one of the strongest sprint skiers on the circuit, turned a few heads in Norway proving she can keep up with the elite distance racers too. The 28-year-old Renner skied with the top-15 until the final lap where she ran out of gas, and crossed the line in 25th spot with a time of one hour 30 minutes 01.3 seconds. No American woman raced.
“Finishing in the top-25 for a sprinter is a pretty good result,” said Renner, who won her first international medal two weeks ago at the world championships. “It is a really tough race mentally and it is painful on your body..”
Renner was the only Canadian woman to take on the Norwegian grind in front of thousands of screaming fans that camp out in advance of the race, which is the focal event of a huge winter festival.
“This race depletes you and you have nothing left in your legs,” added Renner, while taking a walk following the event. “It is a terrible feeling, but a great one at the same time because you know you gave everything you had. But, it is a fun event to take part in because it is a festival of skiing and there are so many people that come to watch.”
Marit Bjoergen won the gold medal in the women’s event in front of her hometown crowd. The Norwegian, who has already clinched the Overall World Cup title, crossed the line with a time of 1:23:58.1. Katerina Neumannova of the Czech Republic was second at 1:24:25.7, while Finland’s Virpi Kuitunen was third at 1:24:34.4.
Andrus Veerpalu of Estonia set the time to beat in the Holmenkollen 50K classic at 2:10:25.2 in the men’s division. While Veerpalu took home the gold medal, it was Germany’s Jens Filbrich in second at 2:10:53.1, and Norway’s Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset in third at 2:10:53.6.
Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) continued his rebound from early season sickness as he finished 27th Saturday. Freeman's time was 2:15.29.1 with Dave Chamberlain (Bethel, ME) 46th in the field of 60 while Chad Giese (St. Paul, MN) was 52nd.
Two Canadian men also tested their physical stamina in the 50-kilometre classic race. George Grey of Rossland, B.C. led the Canadian duo with a 38th-place finish and a time of 2:18:33.8 under warm and perfect racing conditions. Devon Kershaw of Rossland, B.C., another strong Canadian sprinter, also completed the race on Saturday with a time 2:22:30.0, good enough for 48th spot.
Top-Five: (30 km Classic)
1.Marit Bjoergen, NOR, 1:23:58.1; 2. Katerina Neumannova, CZE, 1:24:25.7; 3. Virpi Kuitunen, FIN, 1:24:34.4; 4. Julija Tchepalova, RUS, 1:24:42.5; 5. Aino Kaisa Saarinen, FIN, 1:26:09.9.
Top-Five: (50 km Classic)
1. Andrus Veerpalu, EST, 2:10:25.2; 2. Jens Filbrich, GER, 2:10:53.1; 3. Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset, NOR, 2:10:53.6; 4. Martin Bajcicak, SVK, 2:11:09.4; 5. Anders Soedergren, SWE, 2:11:14.9.
For complete results:
Source: Cross Country Canada, US Ski Team, FIS