Slovenian star Petra Majdic claimed victory on the 830m long course in the center of Duesseldorf, just ahead of Natalia Matveeva from Russia and the youngster from Norway, Maiken Caspersen Falla.
Majdic matched men’s winner, Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR), by winning her third consecutive World Cup sprint. Impressively, she also has two top-10 distance finishes under belt this year as well. She is now in second [place in the overall World Cup, trailing Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) by only eight points. Saarinen did not race today.
Majdic won her first World Cup freestyle event last weekend, and showed it was no fluke, winning again today in that technique. Her 7th career World Cup victory came on a very short and fast course. While the men raced 1.5km, the Women only did half the distance, racing 860 meters, just over the FIS minimum.
“Unbelievable – I cannot say anything – it is awesome,” said Majdic. “To win here in Düsseldorf, on this flat and short track – really unbelievable for me. I cannot imagine that I made it. We improved a lot during the season. We worked on my balance and on my technique. But here you got to use a good tactic, too. I am very surprised that I won – but it´s a very good feeling.
For Matveeva, Düsseldorf is a great place. She has been on the podium in this event since 2006 (4 times).
“I like the place and the course here in Düsseldorf. It is always great to ski here am very happy and satisfied. My grandfather had his birthday yesterday and told me that I have to be on the podium – that is my birthday present for him. My main focus is now on the World Championships – I will try to be there in top shape!”
The big surprise of the day was the 18-year-old Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR) in third. Falla continues an impressive string of young Norweigan women posting top World CUp results this seaosn. Just last week, 20-year old Celine Brun-Lie (NOR) claimed her first World Cup podium, taking 2nd place.
“It is my first World Cup podium ever and I can’t believe it,” Falla told reporters. “It was a great race and I felt always good. My main goals for this season is a medal at the Junior World Championships in Praz-de-Lys – I will try to be there on the podium in the sprint and hopefully have also good results in the distance races.”
Top qualifier Lina Andersson (SWE) was fourth, Arianna Follis (ITA) was fifth and Natalia Naryshkina (RUS) took the sixth place.
American Kikkan Randall had a disappointing day, failing to qualify and finishing 40th. She was 1.2 seconds out of 30th, and 5.85 behind Andersson. Last week she crashed out of the heats after a strong qualifying round.
“I think Kikkan was a little caught off guard at how short the course was. You have to be going all out and skiing really fast to qualify here, so she was disappointed,” Head Cross Country Sprint Coach Chris Grover said.
Perianne Jones led the Canadian team, qualifying and finishing 28th. She was the only starter for Canada.
The field was quite small, with only 48 skiers participating.