Christoph Eigenmann (SUI) and Marit Bjorgen (NOR) won the men's and ladies’ opening Sprint Stages of the inaugural Tour de Ski in Munich on New Year’s Eve.
The 0.8 and 1.2km courses at the Olympic Stadium in Munich represented the first challenge in the inaugural Tour de Ski after the planned opening Stages in Nove Mesto were cancelled.
Many falls caused havoc in the men's event with the Scandinavians in particular having trouble staying on their skies. In the first men's semi-final, Norwegian duo Tor Arne Hetland (NOR) and Simen Oestensen (NOR) both fell, and then, in the final, Petter Northug (NOR) tripped up and brought fellow Norwegian Oystein Pettersen and fastest qualifier Thobias Fredriksson (SWE) down also.
In the final, Christoph Eigenmann took the victory and thereby claimed the Tour Leader’s Golden Bib in the first Stage of the Tour de Ski ahead of Devon Kershaw of Canada and the Olympic champion Roddy Darragon of France.
The current World Cup leader Eldar Roenning (NOR) didn’t reach the finals but finished 54th in the prologue, 6.9 seconds behind Eigenmann who also won the prologue.
In the women's final, Bjorgen conserved her energy perfectly to win by over a second. In her semi-final, she came in second behind Olympic champion Chandra Crawford, and for three quarters of the final, it looked like Crawford may get the better of the Norwegian again. Crawford eventually finished third as Italy's Arianna Follis took second. Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) was fourth, Petra Majdic (SLO) fifth and the current World Cup leader, Virpi Kuitunen (FIN) sixth.
As Stage Two in the Tour de Ski are the pursuit races in Oberstdorf, with the ladies’ 10 km (5km + 5km) and men’s 20 km (10km + 10km) race on Tuesday, and the ladies’ 10km and men’s 15km race taking place on Wednesday.
Number of participants/ participating nations: 60 ladies, 88 men / 22 nations
Number of Media/TV on site and HBC: 145 Media / 6 TV on-site / ARD was the HBC
Weather: Partly cloudy, +9Â°C
Snow Conditions: hard packed variable
Marit Bjoergen (NOR): â€œâ€I trained very well in the last two weeks and I felt better than in the weeks before. Christmas was nice and I recovered very well. I hope I will be able to keep the golden Tour Leader bib also until the end of the Tour de Ski. This is my goal now. This evening we will have a nice dinner and afterwards we are going to bed to be well prepared for the following tough days.â€
Arianna Follis (ITA): â€I’m very satisfied about my race today. This is my second podium place this season. I hope it will be going this well for me also in the new year! â€
Chandra Crawford (CAN): â€œWell, it is my first podium place after my victory at the Olympic Games in Turin so I’m very happy today. The start into this new season was not so perfect for me but I continued with my training and here is the success. It is also very nice that I could share my pleasure with my boyfriend Devon (Kershaw). Now my goal is to finish the Tour de Ski.â€
Christoph Eigenmann (SUI): â€œI am very happy – it is the first victory for me. Normally it was planned that I only start in Munich for the sprint but now I will also race in Oberstdorf and if I will be not overlapped there I will continue in Asiago and than we will see.
Devon Kershaw (CAN): â€The good race from me today is a little surprise. We are now a long time on the road and my shape was not so good. But I tried to give my best and am happy that I could reach the podium, my second ever.â€
Roddy Daraggon (FRA): â€œI’m very satisfied about my today’s race. I started not so poorlz into the season and this is now the highlight. Now I try to give my best for the other races and I hope I will not be overlapped in Oberstdorf.â€
For complete results please visit www.tour-de-ski.com or www.fis-ski.com