La Clusaz, France – Defending World Cup Champion Virpi Kuitunen turned in her best performance of the season, chewing up the field in an impressive second leg to lead Finland to victory in the women's 4x5km relay.
Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) started hard and turned in her own impressive performance, gaping the field by 20 seconds. But lacking depth, the Poles were never in the hunt. The pack quickly overtook Paulina Maciusek. But Kuitunen didn't settle for leading the field back to the front. Showing the form the has made her the top female skier in the world over the past several years, the Finn skied away from the field, posting the top time in the 5km leg by a stunning 40 seconds, and handing third skier Riitta-Liisa Roponen a 47.5 second advantage that would hold up.
The rest of the field was relegated to battling for second and third. Charlotte Kalla (SWE) and yesterday's victor Kristin Stoermer Steira (NOR) started the anchor leg 24 seconds out of second, trailing Italy. Along with Russia's Natalia Korosteleva, they began the hunt, eventually tracking down Ialy's Sabina Valbusa, and leaving her behind. Korosteleva was unable to maintain the pace, and thebattle for second came down to the Swedes and Norweigans, with Kalla outsprinting Steira and giving the Swedes the silver position by 1.1 seconds.
Russia finished fourth and Italy fifth.
Norway was hurt by the absence of top skier Marit Bjoergen. The Swedes made made two changes in their squad from the opening relay (where they finished third).