Kuusamo, Finland – Ola Vigen Hattestad led a Norweigan sweep of the podium in the men's 1.4km classic sprint. Teammates Tor Arne Hetland and John Kristian Dahl followed close behind. Last year's NOrweigan sprint Natinal Champion, Hatestad qualified in 6th position and made his way through the heats to capture the third World Cup victory of his career.
The veteran Hetland qualified in 17th, but showed his experience in capturing second. Top qualifier Kalle Lassila of Finland finished fourth. His qualifying time of 2:58.25 was 1.16 seconds faster than Swede Emil Joensson, always a fast qualifier in classic. Joensson ended the day in 6th, the final man in the A-Final. Nikolay Morivlov (RUS) the third qualifier finished 5th.
Top American sprinter Andy Newell started the day by qualifying in 8th, just under four seconds in back of Lassila. While a solid result, Newell often battles for the top qualifying time, so his time back indicates that he may not have been in top form. After advancing through his quarterfinal, he was relegated to the B-Final in the semis, finishing fifth in his final heat and taking 11th overall.
Stefan Kuhn of Canada had an excellent day topping his previous best ever World Cup finish of 31st with a 15th place today. The 29 year old qualified in 24th, +5.90, before advancing to the semifinals.
Kuhn's teammate Devon Kershaw advanced out of qualification with the 20th best time, but was knocked out in his quarterfinal heat and finished 27th.
Two other Americans toed the line in Kuusamo – Torin Koos, coming off illness just missed making the heats. He was .37 seconds out of the top-30 and finished 36th.
Chris Cook skied to 67th place, 4.74 seconds out of the top-30, and 12.68 behind Lassila.
Racing continues tomorrow with a 15km classic race.