Jean Marc Gaillard of France won his first World Cup race today, a 15km interval start freestyle competition in the Pre-World Championships weekend in Liberec (CZE).
Due to a lack of snow, the course consisted of six 1.9km loops, and as a result, the skiers had lots of interaction with one another. The 27-year old Gaillard finished first, 12.1 seconds ahead of home favorite Lukas Bauer (CZE). The Austrian Christian Hoffmann took third place, 21.8 seconds behind the winner. Gaillard started early with bib 8, and had a great race from the very beginning. Gaillard was in third after 4.9k, but with Christian Hoffmann (who was a loop behind) in first, he knew he had to increase his speed. Lukas Bauer, the local hero and World Cup leader, was in second place throughout the race.
Not only is this Gaillard's first World Cup victory, but it's also the first World Cup podium place of his career; he earned several top-ten results last winter. It was also the first podium place for France in this Cross-Country World Cup season. Christian Hoffmann also managed his first podium of the season, his 18th World Cup podium since 1998.
The top North American finisher was Canadian Devon Kershaw in 18th, 1:10 back. Kris Freeman was 24th, 1:28 back. Other North American finishers were George Grey (CAN) in 45th, Alex Harvey (CAN) in 49th, and Garrott Kuzzy and Leif Zimmerman (USA) in 59th and 60th respectively.
Current World Cup Leaders
The top three in the overall World Cup remain the same. Lukas Bauer leads with 996 points, ahead of German RenÃ© Sommerfeldt (643 points), who finished in the today’s race 12th, and Norwegian Tor Arne Hetland (576 points).
Bauer leads the distance world cup as well, with 546 points. Axel Teichmann (GER) is second, 177 points behind Bauer. Valerio Checchi (ITA)is in third, with 358 points.
Jean Marc Gaillard (FRA):
That’s crazy for me to sit here with Christian and Lukas. It is my first victory in the World Cup and I can just say I love this track! I have to thank to Christian because he helped me a lot during the race as I skied a lot with him. Last week I was not in a good shape but today I felt well. The stadium is really very good and the organizers made a great job preparing the track without having the snow today. I just hope you will have more snow for next year.
Lukas Bauer (CZE):
I am really satisfied with the second place. Yesterday I didn’t feel well on the track but today it was better. It was prepared very well.
Christian Hoffmann (AUT):
I skied on the course only yesterday and it was deep and there were a lot of stones. But today, the course was very good and I am really happy with the competition and with my third place. Lukas has a very good season and it is good for skiing because next year the World Championships take part in the Czech republic.
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