RacingWorld CupBauer, Kuitunen Win in Lahti

FasterSkier FasterSkierMarch 3, 2008

LAHTI, Finland (March 2) – Lukas Bauer of the Czech Republic won the men's 15K classic individual race in a cross country World Cup on Sunday in Lahti. Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) led two other U.S. skiers in the race in 51st.

“It was a hard course. There were lots of climbs and the conditions were really soft,” said Sprint Head Coach Chris Grover. “The snow was sugary and if you're having an off day and your skis aren't 100 percent it makes things hard.

“Leif [Zimmermann; Bozeman, MT] was feeling tired from the get go so he dropped out right away. We had Garrott [Kuzzy; Hayward, WI], who is a stronger skater than he is a classic skier. Kris didn't have the best day. He felt like his skis were a little slick. He felt like he needed a little more kick.”

Led by Devon Kershaw’s 16th place finish, the Canadian squad posted three athletes in the points (top-30). Sara Renner, of Canmore, Alta., finished 22nd in the women’s 10-kilometer classic, while George Grey, of Rossland, B.C., was 28th. Despite missing the top-30 by seven seconds, Stefan Kuhn, of Canmore, Alta., posted his best World Cup classic result ever in 35th.

“It was a very good day for the entire team on a really tough course,” said Eric de Nys, coach, Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team. “To have three in the points is a good showing, but the others all had solid races even if the number doesn’t indicate that.”

While Kershaw continues to hold his own with the top-20 in each race, it was George Grey who bolted his way back up the standings. Grey finished in 28th spot with a time of 37:50.7.

“It’s nice to be back in the points. I knew within the first kilometer that that our techs gave us great skis and I am happy as Lahti is one of the toughest fields of the year,” said Grey, who admitted the team is building confidence with the strong results in the second half of the season. “We celebrate a victory and strong results as a team. When you see our teammates on the podium or close to it, it gives you the feeling that anything is possible and I can do it to because I train with them every day.”

Finland’s Virpi Kuitunen thrilled the hometown crowd with a gold-medal win in the women's race, after clocking a time of 28:06.3. Valentina Shevchenko, of the Ukraine, was second at 28:11.0, while Germany’s Katrin Zeller was third (28:11.9).

Kuitunen extended her lead in the World Cup standings over Norwegian Astrid Jacobsen, who finished 6th. In addition to Kuitunen, the Finns places two other skiers in the top ten, including Aino-Kaisa Saarinen in 4th.

On the men's side, Bauer has the overall World Cup title locked up. With a 428 point lead and only four events remaining, it is impossible for Bauer to be overtaken by Rene Sommerfeldt of Germany, who currently sits in second.

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