Petra Majdic from Slovenia and the Norwegian Jens Arne Svartedal won the today's classical Sprint in Kuusamo/Ruka. Americans Andy Newell and Kikkan Randall were both 12th in their respective races, Torin Koos 20th, Chris Cook 27th. David Chamberlain 80th.
For the 26-year old Majdic it was the second World Cup victory ever after the victory last year in a sprint in Drammen (NOR). She finished clearly ahead of Virpi Kuitunen (FIN, 1.9 second behind) while the third pace was taken by the overall World Cup leader Marit Bjoergen (NOR; 4.9 second behind). Also in the final were the young Norwegian Astrid Jacobsen (4th), Mona Liisa Malvalehto (FIN, 5th) and Ella Gjoemle (NOR, 6th) who fell down the the final heat. For the second time, the new World Cup rules for sprint races allowing 6 athletes in each heat were used (http://www.fis-ski.com/data/document/schedule-sprint-30_oct2006.pdf).
Kikkan Randall qualified for the heats in a World Cup classic race for the first time and just missed moving into the semifinals by ending up third in her heat. That was still good enough for a 12th place finish. She earned the top spot of all non-semifinalists, and there were only 5 finishers in the B-final.
Chandra Crawford was 38th and Dasha Gaiazova was 62nd for Canada.
Marit Bjoergen is still in the lead of the overall World cup, 62 points ahead of Petra Majdic and 98 points ahead of Virpi Kuitunen. In the Sprint World Cup exactly the same ladies are in the lead in this row.
After a triple podium of the Norwegians in the men's race in Duesseldorf (GER) they did even better this time in the men's classic Sprint in Kuusamo/Ruka. The Norwegians swept the top five spots and had seven of the top nine. For Jens Arne Svartedal, the winner of today's sprint, it was his 10th victory in his career and the first in this season. As one of the two Lucky Losers, Svartedal's team mate Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset reached the A-final and took the second place there. The third place finisher was, like in Duesseldorf (GER), the 32-years-old Tor Arne Hetland. The additional places in the A-final were taken by Trond Iversen (NOR, 4th), Johan Kjoelstad (NOR, 5th) and the youngster Emil Joensson (SWE, 6th), who was the biggest surprise in the today's race.
Newell lead the whole way in his quarterfinal heat to move into the semifinals. In the semis, he finished 3rd, just missing a trip to the A-Final. In the B-final, US Coach Pete Vordenberg said that Newell was 'tuckered out' after a full day of racing and finished last in the heat for 12th place overall. In the Team Today podcast ( http://teamtoday.podhoster.com/ ) Vordenberg emphasizes that even sprint races require lots of endurance, due to the many heats the skiers compete in.
For Canada, Devon Kershaw was 29th and George Grey was 56th.
In the overall World Cup is in the lead Eldar Roenning (NOR), the 8th of the today's race, but just 12 points ahead of Tor Arne Hetland and 16 points ahead the today's winner Jens Arne Svartedal. In the Sprint World Cup also the same persons are in the lead.
Weather: Cloudy, 2Â°C
Snow Conditions: wet
Petra Majdic (SLO): â€œ I very happy about my second World Cup victory. I was not sure if my shape is ready for that, normally I'm getting in better shape in the second part of the Cross-Country season. This track here in Kuusamo fits me well because first it comes the downhill and afterwards it's flat one tough uphill. So I'm looking now forward to the race tomorrow and hope that I could also manage it in a good way, but first we will celebrate a little bit. It is not usual that a Slovene win a World Cup (Remark of the editor: It is the second World Cup victory for Slovenia ever in the Cross-Country World Cup). I'm focused this season on the Tour de Ski and for sure also on the World Championships in Sapporo. I hope I will also manage good results at the other classic Sprints in OtepÃ¤Ã¤, Drammen, Stockholm – in Changchun I will maybe not take part.”
Virpi Kuitunen (FIN): “I'm satisfied that I could manage a podium place in this race here in my home country. But I also tried to win the race. I skied too hard in the quarterfinals and I lost too much energy. I didn't realize that there was a big gap behind me. I'm looking also forward for the Tour de Ski.
Marit Bjoergen (NOR): “I was for a long time good in classic Sprints. This performance fit's me well. In the overall World Cup I have to fight strong against Katerina Neumannova and Kristina Smigun. It was good that I could manage the podium today and the other both ladies haven't reached the finals.”
Jens Arne Svartedal (NOR): “I was surprised that I finished only 26th after the qualification round. I had some troubles to speed up and I think also my skies were not so good there. So I changed them for the final rounds. This track here is the hardest ever in a sprint race. I'm looking foreward now first of the tomorrow's 15 km and than to my big goal the Tour de Ski.”
Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset (NOR): “I was my 100th World Cup race and it was better than my first one. It was a quite perfect day, today. I'm very satisfied that I could made in this race a podium place. Our whole team was strong today but the Swedish guy surprised (Emil Joensson) us. I have never heard before from him – but I'm sure that we will hear more in the futur. My aim this season will be the classic races at the World Championships in Sapporo.”
Tor Arne Hetland (NOR): ” The course here fit's me not so good, because it is a quite hilly one. So I'm satisfied that I could repeat my third victory from Duesseldorf. I will also add that today only “old guy's” over thirty were on the podium. For me the goals for this season are the Sprint World Cup, the Tour de Ski and on third position the overall World Cup.”