Finnish Women, Italian Men Win Relays At Val Di Fiemme

FasterSkierJanuary 15, 2006

VIESSMANN FIS World Cup Cross-Country in Val di Fiemme (Italy), Relay women 4 x 5 km, 15.01.2006

The Finns win at Val di Fiemme

The Finnish women's team (Aino Kaisa Saarinen, Virpi Kuitunen, Riitta Liisa Lassila and Kaisa Varis) won the second team competition in the World Cup Cross-Country this season. They finished the course clear 18,7 seconds ahead of the team from Russia with Olga Rotcheva, Natalia Baranova, Evgenia Medvedeva, and Julija Tchepalova. The favoured team of Norway (Vibeke W. Skofterud, Marit Bjoergen, Kirstin Muerer Stemland and Kristin Steira) took the third place ahead of the mixed team of Canada and Sweden, with a time difference of 1,16,9 minutes behind Finland.

The Finns didn't give any chance to the others. Virpi Kuitunen had a very strong race in the second leg, closing the gap to the leading mixed team represented by Beckie Scott of Canada. Sara Renner had exchanged her team in the lead after the first leg.

In the third leg the Finns grew their lead to 30 seconds ahead of the Russian team. Despite the excellent performance by Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle of Germany in the third leg the German team never ranked better than fifth, also finishing in the fifth place. In the last leg Julija Tchepalova set out to close the gap to Finland but had no chance.

Spectators: 3.000

Weather: sunny, – 10°C

Snow condition: hard snow

Quotes of athletes:

Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, FIN: “I was a bit tired after yesterday’s race so I am not too happy about the gap the leading girls managed to create between us at the very end. I had great skis however.”

Virpi Kuitunen, FIN: “I hope that today’s race convinced everyone that our team is a real candidate for the victory in the Olympics. We even have a reserve of a couple good skiers still at home and not competing here in Val di Fiemme.”

Ismo Hamalainen, Coach of the Finnish women’s team: “We are very happy about today’s race. The team was very strong today. We have a team of 5-6 women to select from for the Olympics and will make the final selection on the day of the Olympic relay.”

Julija Tchepalova, RUS: “My muscles were aching during the race, probably because of yesterday's race. The team was very strong today and had excellent skis. I'm honoured to be able to anchor our team, but I was not in the position to close the gap to Finland.

Marit Bjoergen, NOR: “I was very tired after yesterday’s race. The gap to the leading teams was too big for me to try to close, also because I was skiing on my own.”

Vibeke W.Skofterud, NOR: “We are not too satisfied with our race. No one on the team had a great day today. I was surprised about how poorly I did today as I did feel pretty good this morning and thought would have a good race.”

Becky Scott, CAN: “I am very happy with my race. I usually suffer terribly from jet lag and this is my fifth day after our arrival here in Europe so I am glad that the race went as well as it did. I did not race yesterday because I needed to give myself time to get adjusted to the time difference here. Today’s race was more like a training race for us since we had a mixed team with the young Swedes. But it served me well to get some high intensity training in. I have not had many of those in the past several weeks. We will now stay in Europe until the end of the season, then travel to China and Japan for the World Cup finals so all in all we will be on the road for 2.5 months.”

Italy wins on home turf in Val di Fiemme

The Italian team with Giorgio di Centa, Valerio Checchi, Pietro Piller Cottrer and Christian Zorzi are the winners of the second relay competition in the Viessmann FIS Cross-Country World Cup this season. The Team Italy finished just 0.2 seconds ahead of the team from Germany (Rene Sommerfeldt, Axel Teichmann, Jens Filbrich and Tobias Angerer). Team Norway (Odd-Björn Hjelmeset, Jens Arne Svartedal, Tord Asle Gjerdalen and Tore Ruud Hofstad) finished third just 0.3 seconds behind Germany and 0.5 seconds behind the winning Italian team. The team from the Czech Republic also fought for victory until the final 100m, finally finishing just 2.6 seconds behind the winner.

The entire race was very tight with several teams sharing the lead during the race. Pietro Piller Cottrer of Italy managed to close the gap to the leading group formed by Norway, Germany and the Czech Republic in the third leg, providing the anchor Christian Zorzi with the chance to sprint for the victory in the final straight.

It was the first time since November 2002 in Kiruna (SWE) that the Italian men’s team won a World Cup relay competition. The first relay of the season in Beitostoelen (NOR) in November, 2005, was won by the Norwegian team. The fourth place for the team from the Czech Republic was the best ever World Cup relay result for the team in the history of the Czech Republic.

Spectators: 3 .000

Weather: sunny, – 6°C

Quotes of athletes:

Pietro Piller Cottrer, ITA: “My goal was to try to close the gap between me and the others in front, and I reached this goal. After that I was a bit too tired to follow the young Norwegian skier. I'm happy about our victory today.”

Marco Albarello, Headcoach of the Italian team: “I am starting to feel better and better. It was such an exciting race, especially during Pietro’s last lap and in the finish. I now hope that we will be as successful as in today's race in a few weeks’ time in Pragelato, ITA.”

Jens Filbrich, GER: “My tactic was to follow the other strong athletes and be ready for any attacks, but at the end of my leg, the Norwegian skier was simply too strong for me. It was very tight in the lead of the race but that also made it very exciting. It was my second race after our training camp in high altitude and I felt better today than in yesterday's race. I trained very well during the camp at the “Passo Lavaze”, very near here. Now our whole team will start tapering until the Olympics. We hope everything will go well for us, but you never know; a lot could still happen.”

Tobias Angerer, GER: “I tried my best but today it was not enough. In the last lap, I made my attacks at the uphills but I never got a big enough gap between me and the others. In the finish, I felt a tired and Christian Zorzi was too strong for me on his home course.”

Tord Asle Gjerdalen, NOR: “It was my first relay competition in the World Cup. I felt good in the today's race. During the race, when I got the information that Pietro caught up with our group, I was thinking that I should attack and not wait until the others planned to make the race tough. I think that I will be nominated for the Olympics if I do well in our National Championships next week.”


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