Czech racer Katerina Neummanova thrilled the home crowd in Nove Mesto today, blowing away 2nd place finisher Julija Tchepalova (Russia) by 26.2 seconds in the 10km freestyle race. With World Cup overall leader Marit Bjorgen skipping the race to focus on training for the upcoming Olympics in Torino, Tchepalova closed to within 30 points of the overall lead.
Kristin Stoermer Steira.
Today's results also show that some familiar names are finding their way back near the top of the list. Kristina Smigun, once the only serious threat to Norway's star Bente Skari (now retired) was able to ski up into 5th place after an awful season last year. Also Evi Stehle Sachenbacher, who medaled in the 2002 Olympics and then faded somewhat in subsequent seasons, looks to be getting it back together and finished 6th today.
No North Americans raced in either the men's or women's races.