Liberec, Czech Republic – Petter Northug (NOR) won the men’s 30km World Championship Pursuit, skiing to a 3.1 second win over Anders Soedergren (SWE).
Northug captured his first individual World Championship medal with a strong attack on the last climb.
The mass start pursuit can often end in a mass sprint to the line, consisting of 20+ athletes. But today was different.
The main pack stayed together through the entire 15km classic portion of the race, with 30 skiers within 8 seconds of the lead. Soedergren made a big move during the skate leg, opening a gap and was immediately chased by Northug, Giorgio Di Centa (ITA), Alexander Legkov (RUS), Tobias Angerer (GER) and Roland Clara (ITA). The chase group was able to reel in the Swede to set up Northug’s final push.
Said Soedergren, who won his second silver World Champinship medal (he was 2nd in the 50km in 2003), “I am very happy. This season was difficult because I lost a lot of time – I had problems with health in the summer, also a surgery in November. I am very glad that after all my problems with health I have prepared well and I am in good shape at the right moment. I knew that I had to attack before the last meters. I tried my best but the others are very strong as well. We have a strong team here and I hope we can win a gold medal in the relay competition!”
DiCenta claimed the bronze, +11.9, his second career World Championship medal.
“It was a tough race,” said DiCenta. “I did not have the best skis, but I was able to follow the leading group. I am very satisfied with my fourth medal at the World Championships (2 relay medals and two individual medals). I will not compete in Sprint but try to ski as best as I can in the relay and 50 km.”
North AMerica was led by 20-year old Alex Harvey in 22nd, his best World Cup finish. Harvey was only 46.8 seconds in back of Northug, and just over 20 seconds out of the top 5. HIs teammate Devon Kershaw was unable to bounce back from a tough wax day in teh 15km classic. Kershaw, who has medal potential, finished 27th, +1:22.3. Kershaw again suffered from bad skis – both in the classic portion, causing him to lose contact with the lead group, and in the skate, even after he regained contact. Kershaw reports that a number of other top skiers, including Dario Cologna, Lukas Bauer, Axel Teichman, and Pietro Piller Cottrer. Kershaw also poitns out that while Harvey’s skate skis were quite good, the young Canadian’s classic skis were as bad as Kershaw’s – and he still finished 22nd.
You can read Devon’s full report on his blog.
Ivan Babikov in 40th and Chris Butler in 44th rounded out the day for the Canadians.
The US started only two skiers, James Southam and Leif Zimmerman. Zimmerman did not finish, but SOutham turned in an excellent effort, finishing 33rd. After scoring his first World Cup points in Whistler, Southam told FasterSkier, that while he was pleased, he knew the Whistler field was weak, and was aiming for a top-30 in a full world Cup field. He missed that goal today – barely. He was 12 seconds out of 30th and 40 seconds out of the top 25. He skier especially well in the classic portion, sitting in the middle of the lead pack at the transition.
“That was James’ best result by 15 places so that was really good for him,” U.S. Cross Country Head Coach Pete Vordenberg said. “He skied his best in the classic part and faded a little bit towards the end of the race, but still, that’s his best Worlds finish. He’s got to be really happy with that.”
Vordenberg also talked about the challenging waxing, saying, “”It’s been similar every day with the waxing being pretty tricky. It takes a lot to get it all dialed in. It’s a little bit of a stressful situation, but I really like it because it’s going to be a lot like this in Vancouver. It’s really good practice for us. It’s been stressful but in a really good way. We’re learning to work in these conditions and come up with good skis.”
Racing continues on Tuesday with the men’s and women’s freestyle sprint.
– Half of the 20 finishers were at least 30 years old.
– 15km Classic champion Andrus Veerpalu (EST) 19th, while the silver and bronze medalists in that race (Lukas Bauer and Matti Heikkinen) finished 25th and 11th respectively.
– Overall World Cup leader and 2009 Tour de Ski Champion Dario Cologna (SUI) faded hard in the skate leg and finished 41st.
– 20 skiers were lapped and required to withdraw from the race.
– Another 12 skiers withdrew form the race prior to being lapped.
– 41 Nations were represented.