Everyone expected World Cup leader Virpi Kuitunen of Finland to fight for a medal in today's World Championship 30km mass-start classic race, and she did not dissapoint. Kuitunen out-dueled a super-fit and fearless Kristin Stoermer Steira of Norway for the gold medal. Steira finished 6.9 seconds behind to take the silver. The two had put an enormous gap on the rest of the field, as the crowd waited over a minute to see who would win the battle for bronze.
Johaug and Steira celebrate at the finish
Another surprise was the Ukranian Lada Nesterenko, who skied to a strong seventh place finish behind Smigun and ahead of Olga Savialova (Russia), Marit Bjoergen (Norway), and Evi Sachenbacher Stehle (Germay.)
The best North American finish was Dasha Gaiazova of Canada in 40th, 14 minutes 30 seconds off the pace. Teammate Tasha Betcherman was 43rd out of 44 finishers, while the lone US entry Caitlin Compton was one of eleven skiers, some of them well-known on the World Cup circuit, to not finish today's race.
Full results: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/610.html?sector=CC&raceid=12599
Split times: http://www.sportresult.com/sports/cc/cc.asp