OTEPAEAE, Estonia (Jan. 27) – Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) finished 32nd and Andrew Johnson (Greensboro, VT) 51st Saturday in a windy and snowy World Cup 15K classic technique race won by former World Cup champion Axel Teichmann of Germany.
Teichmann won the four-lap men's race in 41:07.0 with Norway's Frode Estil second at 41:13.4. Freeman's time was 42:58.3. Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk led from start to finish of the 10K classic, winning in 30:54.2; no U.S. women raced.
“Kris just got here Thursday – we wanted to delay his arrival because they didn't have much snow [for training], so we didn't have great expectations since it takes a while to adjust…but he'll go tomorrow in the sprint and then when we're back in Davos [Switzerland] for the next races, he'll really settle in,” Head Coach Pete Vordenberg said.
“It was gnarly all day. It snowed all through the women's [three-lap] race and then turned to blowing, lots of wind during the men's race.” Temperatures were in the low 20s.
Former World Champion Axel Teichmann of Germany produced a storming finish to record his first victory after a two years break. The German was only ninth at the 8.4 km mark,8.8 seconds behind leader Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset from Norway but in the finish he beat another Norwegian World and Olympic champion Frode Estil by 6.4 seconds. Hjelmeset finished third, 28.7 seconds behind winner.
Franz Goering of Germany was fourth, home crowd favorite Jaak Mae (EST) finished fifth and World Cup overall leader Tobias Angerer (GER) sixth.
For Teichmann it was his 6th World Cup victory and the first after his great season 2004/2005 when he also won the overall World Cup. Frode Estil reached, in his last World Cup season, the first podium place of the season and his team mate Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset could celebrate today this 16th podium place in his career.
Tobias Angerer, the winner of the Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski and 6th in today’s race, is in the lead of the World Cup ranking with 762 points, ahead of Alexander Legkov (RUS, 25th place today) with 573 points and Tor Arne Hetland (NOR, 448 points), who was not competing in the today’s race. In the Distance World Cup Legkov is leading with one point ahead of Angerer (253 points) and on third place is the Norwegian Eldar Roenning (205).
Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland produced a powerhouse race to claim her first ever victory in the World Cup series and the first ladies World Cup victory ever for Poland. The winner of the this year's student games won a 10 km classical race in Otepaa, Estonia by 7.8 second ahead of World Cup leader Virpi Kuitunen with Ukrainian Valentina Shevchenko third 14.5 seconds behind the winner.
The top three were followed by Marit Bjoergen of Norway, Marianna Longa of Italy and Aino Kaisa Saarinen of Finland.
The World Cup leader and the first Tour de Ski winner Kuitunen was 20.7 seconds behind leader at the 7.5 km mark. Pre-race favourite attacked on the final kilometres but Kowalczyk held her slim lead.
Virpi Kuitunen is in the lead of the World Cup ranking with 997 points, ahead of Marit Bjoergen with 684 points and Katerina Neumannova (CZE, 552 points), who was not competing in the today’s race. In the Distance World Cup Kuitunen (445 points) is also leading, on second place follows Katerina Neumannova (325 points) and on third place is the team mate of Kuitunen, Riitta Liisa Roponen (263 points).
Classic technique sprints are on top for Sunday – the men racing a 1.2K loop while the women compete on a 1K course.
Axel Teichmann (GER): A lot of hard work has been done. But I’ve skied very little. Just once yesterday. We have had no snow and I have been roller-skiing and running. So before the race I didn’t have a clue what my shape would be like. It’s important that I’m healthy now and can continue preparations for World Champs. Sapporo? I don’t know yet which distances I’ll compete in. But we have a big goal there: to win gold in relay. We’ve won some World Cup events but still not a Championship. Preparations for World Championships? I’ll be in Italy, good conditions there for training. But I guess altitude training is not that important ahead of Sapporo as it was before the Olympics in Turin.
Frode Estil (NOR): I’m in very good shape and I have to be satisfied with the race. During the race I heard that my times were mainly compared with Odd-Bjorn. It wasn’t before than just some two kilometres before the finish that I heard of Axel the first time. He was only one second behind and then I knew that he would beat me. Because he has such a strong finish. I had good start and a good middle part in the end I was sure that Axel would be faster. Before Sapporo I’ll stay home and train in good conditions. I’ll not go to high altitude. I’ll travel to Sapporo on February 13. World Champs: I hope to take part in pursuit 50K and relay. And I hope for classic leg in relay this time! Yes, it’s my last season and I hope for nice finish for my career, a medal from Sapporo.
Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset (NOR): It was a really good race. I think that if conditions had been like yesterday then my result would have been much better. I lost quite much time on one lap to Frode but the last lap was good. It’s still a lot of time till the World Championships. My shape is good, but maybe it’ll be even better in Sapporo. In World Champs I hope to start in sprint, relay and 50 kilometre race. And I think that after the tomorrows sprint race I’ll sit here again (press conference)
Justyna Kowalczyk (POL): The first win is fantastic and I am so happy! I won three gold medails in Torino Universiade lately and that was a perfect basis for OtepÃ¤Ã¤ event. I like OtepÃ¤Ã¤ because of the demanding course. I have no special training camp for Sapporo World Championships.
Virpi Kuitunen (FIN): Today’s race was tough, but I’m satisfied with the second place. I pushed hard and gave all what I have at the end.
Davos is the next step in my preparations for World Championships. Goal for Sapporo? The gold would be nice. I haven’t fixed my race schedule for Sapporo yet. I’m interested in all distances, and classic races are my main goal in Japan.
Valentina Shevchenko (UKR): It was the hardest race so far this winter — the weather was tough and good waxing was needful also. I skipped Rybinsk after Tour de Ski, the decision was made already earlier and I was really tired. The decision paid off here in OtepÃ¤Ã¤ and the result was as good as I expected. At Sapporo my goal is to reach the podium, but the 10 km distance isn’t in classic unfortunately.
VIESSMANN CROSS COUNTRY WORLD CUP
Otepaeae, EST – Jan. 27, 2007
Men's 15K Classic
1. Axel Teichmann, Germany, 41:07.0
2. Frode Estil, Norway, 41:13.4
3. Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset, Norway, 41:35.7
4. Franz Goering, Germany, 41:44.8
5. Jaak Mae, Estonia, 41:46.4
32. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, 42:58.3
51. Andrew Johnson, Greensboro, VT, 45:37.1
Women's 10K CL
1. Justyna Kowalczyk, Poland, 30:54.2
2. Virpi Kuitunen, Finland, 31:02.0
3. Valentina shevchenko, Ukraine, 31:08.7
4. Marit Bjoergen, Norway, 31:14.1
5. Marianna Longa, Italy, 31:26.5
(No U.S. women raced)
For complete results:
Source: FIS & US Ski Team