Chinese cross country skier Chunli Wang’s (23) victory in Sunday’s women’s freestyle race during the finish opening race in Saariselka was a historical triumph — it was the first time ever a Chinese cross country skier has won a FIS-race.
– I’m very excited, says Swede Per Erik â€œPekenâ€ Ronnestrand, who became the first ever foreign cross country ski coach in China this summer. China has had several skiers among the top in biathlon and the goal is now to reach this level also in cross country skiing.
Wang Chunli was 4.3 seconds ahead of Elina Hietmaki of Finland. Chunli was 10th, 51 seconds behind the finish Olympic hope Virpi Kuitinen in Saturday’s 6-kilometer classic.
Best Chinese male skier was Zhang Quing (25) with a 34th place on Sunday. Skiers from 15 nations participated, including national team skiers from Russia, Japan, Finland and Austria.
The Chinese team has as most teams traveled a lot to find snow lately. They did a 1000-kilometer round-trip last weekend from Kiruna where they have been training lately to Saariselka.
— The conditions in Sariselka were good. But the most important was to compete, says Ronnestrand.
He is bringing four skiers to the World Cup opener at Beitostolen next weekend. The rest of the team will race a FIS races in Jukkasjarvi close to Kiruna.