Falun, Sweden – Dario Cologna (SUI) had no problem maintaining his lead in the final World Cup race of the season, winning bot the the four event World Cup Final and the overall World Cup title. Vincent Vittoz (FRA)finished second, and Alex Harvey (CAN) skied up from 11th to 6th in the 15km freestlye handicap start.
Cologna started the day with a 58 second lead on Alexander Legkov (RUS), and a 1:20 lead on Petter Northug (NOR). Northug took over the World Cup leader’s bib with a strong perfromance in the 50km in Trondheim. But Cologna beat Northug in each of the first three events in the World Cup final, meaning the Norwegian needed to overtake Cologna to win the overall title.
After Friday’s prologue, the ever-confident Northug said he was “99.1% certain” he would defeat Cologna for the overall title.
Cologna started relaxed and controlled, skiing into his race. Legkov and Vittoz, starting just seconds apart, set out on the hunt, but as the kilometers ticked by they were only able to take several seconds from Cologna.
Meanwhile Northug started in a large group, also containing Harvey, and immediately pushed to the front. But his attack was short-lived and he clearly looked tired. He quickly dropped to the back of the pack. By 7.5km this group had lost 10 seconds to Cologna, and Northug has no chance for the victory, and the question was whether he would fall off the back.
Cologna continued his steady pace, smooth and strong, holding steady 50 seconds up on Legkov and Vittoz. The two alternated leads, and eventually backed off the pace when it became clear Cologna was not reachable. On the big climb with just 3.5km to go, Vittoz attacked hard, immediately putting 10 meters on the Russian. Legkov tried to respond, but by the top of the clmib, he was broken, and second secured for Vittoz.
Harvey stayed solidly in the big chase pack, intially skiing toward the front, before dropping back to the last position just behind Northug. Northug attempted a move on the big hill, but was unable to make progress, and the battle for fourth came down to a bunch sprint. Northug took the lead heading into the stadium, and stayed strong on the uphill to the finish. Harvey continued his impressive run, moving up 5 places from 11th to 6th and finishing less than two seconds ahead of Tobias Angerer (GER), Marcus Hellner (SWE), and Sami Jauhojaervi (FIN).
Harvey’s teammate Devon Kershaw finished in a tight pack of 7 that included a tie for 17th – unuasual in a mass start style race. Kershaw finished 5th in that pack and 21st overall, dropping three places from his start. Fellow Canadians George Grey and Ivan Babikov started just inside the top 30, but were unable to hold position. Babikov ended in 34th and Grey in 38th. Dave Nighbor was 67th.
Torin Koos was the lone finisher for the US after Andy Newell abandonned yesterday’s pursuit. Koos finished 75th, slipping from his start position of 63rd. By completing the four race World Cup Final, Koos will get World Cup points for his 14th place finish in Wednesday’s sprint.
Sergei Shiraev (RUS) was the “man of the day” posting the fastest time for the 15km skate. Vittoz was second, 9 seconds back, and Harvey had the 5th fastest.
The World Cup season is now complete.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.