This morning in Falun, Sweden saw a return to action for many of the best middle-distance skiers in the world, many of whom skipped the super-long Vasaloppet right after the Olympics as well as yesterday's freestyle sprint in Borlange, in preparation for today's event: a 5km+5km continous pursuit.
The only North Americans on the starting line were Sara Renner and Beckie Scott of Canada, who unlike some competitors, raced both the Vasa and yesterday's sprint.
Evi Sachenbacher Stehle. Photo by Megan McTavish
Olympic Double-Gold Medalist Kristina Smigun finished 13 seconds back, putting her in 16th place–a few spots ahead of Sara Renner who was 21st today, 31 seconds behind Sachenbacher's winning time of 29 minutes, 26.7 seconds.
Today's results have an interesting effect on the overall World Cup standings. With leader Marit Bjoergen of Norway finishing 8th today behind both Beckie Scott and Julija Tchepalova, the chance of a new leader by the season's end remains very much alive. Scott closed the points gap between her and Bjoergen to 147, and is 54 points ahead of Tchepalova who sits in third. Finland's Virpi Kuitunen also may be within striking distance, another 36 points behind Tchepalova. As far as individual events go, there are two sprint events, one pursuit and one long distance race left for this season's World Cup.
Full results from today's pursuit in Falun: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/610.html?sector=CC&raceid=10248
Women's Overall Standings as of March 8th: http://www.fis-ski.com/pdf/2006/CC/2852/2006CC2852WCOV.pdf