Liberec, Czech Republic – Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR) won the men’s World Championship sprint, winning his 5th 6th sprint in 7 World Cup starts this season. His only “loss” was a second place. His teammate Johan Kjoelstad took the silver, and Russian Nikolay Morilov the bronze.
This was Hattestad’s and Kjoelstad’s first ever World Championship medals.
“It’s unbelievable! I have felt pressured over the last days. I tried not to think about it – for me it is important to keep the nervousness in control,” said Hattestad.
“In final I thought Kjoelstad would beat me because I felt tired,” he continued. “But I pushed and I think I had a very good technique too.”
Kjoelstad was also thrilled.
“It is an amazing day. I was very strong from the beginning and I got stronger and stronger. But you never know in sprint, anything can happen. I knew that Ola Vigen Hattestad is a really strong guy!”
Morilov claimed his second World Championship medal – he also won a silver in the team event Sapporo.
This was Morilov’s only race at these World Championships, and he now returns home to prepare for the rest of the season. His sister, Natalia Korosteleva finished 11th in the women’s sprint.
Andy Newell led the US team in 12th. Newell qualified in 2nd, and easily advanced from his quarterfinal, but ran into trouble in the semis.
“I got into a little bit of a bad position. I tried to make a move from third to second going over the top of a climb into the big downhill. It was the same move that work for me in the previous heat, but Helner saw it coming and squeezed me into some slow powder on the side of the trail. So it killed my speed a little bit for the downhill and I had to try to fight my way back up.”
It wasn’t enough and Newell was relegated to the B-Final.
“I felt pretty good today and it was unfortunate not to be in the final,” Newell continued.
US Sprint Coach Chris Grover commented that by the B-Final Newell was looking tired, and noted the quick turn-arounds between heats. Newell agreed, saying “I toasted my legs pretty good going for it in the semi’s so I was hurting really bad in the B final.”
He finished last in that final and 12th on the day. He was the only US skier to qualify. Torin Koos, coming off an excellent performance in the World Cup leading up ot the World Championships, fell in qualification, and missed the heats, ending the say in 43rd. He was closely followed by Garrott Kuzzy in 44th. Chris Cook was the next best US skier behind Newell, placing 37th, 2 seconds out of the top 30.
Alex Harvey led tha Canadian team in 27th. The 20-year old Harvey continues to have an outstanding Championships, but will not race the team sprint tomorrow. He was joined in the heats by Phil Widmer. Widmer was also eliminated in the quarterfinals, and tok the final World Cup point in 30th.
Sean Crooks rounded out the Canadian squad in 48th.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.