Sprint specialist Jens Arne Svartedal of Norway managed to out-race the distance skiers in today's 15k classic competition in Davos, Switzerland. It was the second time this season that a Norwegian sprinter managed to win a classic distance race – the first being Tor Arne Hetland's victory at the beginning of the season in November.
Second to Svartedal today was the young Austrian Martin Tauber, his first-ever podium finish. Some may remember Tauber as the man who ambitiously led the first several kilometers of the World Championship pursuit last year before fading back into the pack, but today he managed to stay strong the whole way to edge third-place finisher Vincent Vittoz of France by 3 seconds.
Vittoz, normally much stronger in the skate technique, looks to be in excellent shape heading into the Torino Olympics. So does Norwegian classic specialist Odd-Bjorn Hjelmeset (4th) and Swedish powerhouse and former overall World Cup winner Mathias Fredriksson (5th.) Current overall World Cup leader Tobias Angerer of Germany finished just behind Fredriksson in 6th, beating out such classic superstars as Frode Estil and Andrus Veerpalu.
The best North American results of the day were only mid-pack, with the Canadians faring a little better than the US skiers, especially if you count Ivan Babikov (Canadian dweller currently skiing for his native Russia) who finished a solid 18th, just under a minute from the winner.
The next Canadian (or first, depending on how you count) was George Grey in 35th, just 7 seconds from scoring World Cup points. Other Canadians in the race included Devon Kershaw (41st), and Chris Jeffries (59th). The top US finish was Andrew Johnson's 54th, less than 8 seconds ahead of James Southam in 57th. Kris Freeman and Carl Swenson, normally in contention for red group status, finished 64th and 70th.
For full results, click here: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/610.html?sector=CC&raceid=9634