This article was translated and adapted from Aftenposten.no – http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/sport/skisport/article2841091.ece
This gives me self-confidence, says Bjørgen after her best race of the year
Sunday it was only Virpi Kuitunen who was faster than Bjørgen.
But Bjørgen is only 2.2 seconds behind Kuitunen in the overall standings before the city sprint in Prague on Monday.
– I am very satisfied. It gives my self-confidence that I was able to ski with the Finn, says Bjørgen.
Bjørgen’s ultimate goal is a spot on the podium, preferably at the top.
She must be successful in Prague and in the sprint in Nove Mesto on New Year’s Day. The sprint is the sprint, a lot can happen and the result is often decided by very small margins.
– I have to get as many bonus points as possible. Hopefully there will be some other sprinters who will also take points, so there are fewer possible points for the Finns. For me to make it to the podium, I have to keep myself with the five best skiers every single day, said Bjørgen.
Sunday Kuitunen and Saarinen set up a killer pace from the start. These two have been decidedly the strongest classic skiers this season, and they would show that in the pursuit start in Oberhof as well.
But Bjørgen stayed with them.
– The pace was very fast at the start, but when I continued to stay with them after two kilometers I understood that I could do it. Kuitunen got a meter at the top of the last hill, and that was what she needed.
– What does it mean for you that you showed that you could stick with the two Finns?
– Of course it gives me confidence. This day means a lot for me. I’ve showed that I can hang in there on the hills, says Bjørgen.
– They are better than I am at the start. They have a speed that I don’t have. And Kuitunen takes me in the hills when she stretches out. Then I can’t quite follow, explains Bjørgen.
Coach Åge Skinstad was satisfied with his strongest skier.
– She skied extremely well tactically, rested when she should have and kept herself at the right pace the whole time and was strong toward the finish. She did it right the whole way, summed up Skinstad.