Lahti, Finland – Petra Majdic won her 6th World Cup race of the season and took over the overall World Cup lead. Arianna Follis (ITA) was seconds and Pirjo Muranen (FIN) took third.
Majdic, who already clinched the Sprint Cup title, passed Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) in the overall standings, and now leads her by 74 points. Saarinen did not race due to illness.
Despite her season-long success, Majdic went without a medal at World Championships. She came back with a vengeance in the first World Cup since Liberec, posting the second fastest qualifying time before making her way through the heats.
“It is great to sit here with the yellow bib,” said Majdic. “I did not have a good World Championships, I was sick and the sickness is still continuing as you can hear, so I’m really happy about my victory today. I will fight for the overall World Cup victory and for every World Cup point but I am sure that when Aino Kaisa returns, she will be very strong.”
Muranen and Follis are battling for second in the SPrint Cup. Muranen is currently second with 421 points and Follis just behind with 414.
“I had a good race and I am happy with the podium place,” said Follis. “My main goal now for the season is to fight for a podium place in the sprint ranking. I am third now, but it will be tough for me to keep it as the two sprint which are left are in classical technique.”
Vesna Fabjan (SLO) gave Slovenia two skiers in the top-4, with a career best 4th place finish. Charlotte Kalla (SWE) was 5th, Riikka Sarasoja (FIN) 6th, and Natalia Matveeva (RUS) 7th.
Seven skiers contested the A-Final meaning that one woman was advanced from the semis despite not qualifying by place or time. This can happen if a skier is impeded by another skier. Only five raced in the B-Final, led by young Norwegian Marthe Kristoffersen.
Kikkan Randall (USA), fighting illness, struggled today, finishing 49th.
“Kikkan is getting over a head cold she came down with after Worlds. She said she had good skis, but didn’t have the body to go with the skis today and knew it right off the line,” US Ski Team Coach Pat Casey said. “She felt like she had to give it a shot and she gave it a good effort, but her body wasn’t responding.”
Liz Stephen did not start as scheduled for the US.
Daria Gaiazova (CAN) coming of a top-30 finish at Worlds, cracked the heats again, qualifying in 27th and finishing 28th.
Racing continues tomorrow with a 10km freestyle individual start.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.