Lahti, Finland – Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) skied to a convincing 22 seconds victory over Charlotte Kalla (SWE) in the women’s 10km freestyle this morning. Marthe Kristofferesen (NOR) was third.
Kowalczyk won her fourth World Cup of the season, following a successful World Championships where she won two golds and a bronze. Her victory, coupled with Aino Kaisa Saarinen’s absence due to illness, has tightened the women’s overall World Cup race. Petra Majdic (SLO) who finished 19th today, moved into the lead yesterday with a victory in the sprint. She is now 71 points up on Kowalczyk. Saarinen has slipped to third, just 15 points behind Kowalczyk.
Kowalczyk is not focused on the overall title, and has significant racing ahead of her still.
“I was sick after the World Championships. I had a fever and felt not so good. I’m really impressed by my performance and I never expected this after such a time of sickness. My main goal now is the distance World Cup. I am not thinking about the overall World Cup as Petra is very strong in sprints and there are two sprint left. Aino Kaisa will also be strong when she is back. I will now compete in all the remaining World Cup races and afterwards I have the Polish Championships – and finally in four weeks I will go home.”
Kalla, who has battled illness this seaosn, missing the Tour de Ski, was pleased to be back on the podium.
“I’m really satisfied. I felt good and I’m happy to be on the podium. The 10 km in freestyle is my favorite race and is on the program in Vancouver next year. The course here is challenging but the audience is really great and it make’s fun to ski here in front of them. I’m now looking forward to the World Cup Final in Sweden (Stockholm & Falun) – that will be a great cross-country festival.”
Kristoffersen took the final podium spot, edging out Russian Evgenia Medvedeva by just .1 seconds.
” I didn’t realize that it was so tight for the podium, but I am happy that I made it. “I had fun skiing! It was amazing – I had good skis and everything worked well. Now I will go to Trondheim – I don’t expect muchas it is in the classical technique, but I will just enjoy the skiing and see what happens.”
Liz Stephen was the only starter for the US, finishing 49th. Stephen has been sick, and the race was more of an opportunity for her to get back into the swing of things after World Championships, according to US Ski Team Coach Justin Wadsworth.
Daria Gaiazova finsihed 51st for the Canadians.
Kristina Strandberg (SWE), racing as the leaded of the US SuperTour, finished 47th.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.