Stockholm, Sweden – Petra Majdic (SLO) continued her winning ways, overcoming a crash in the quarterfinals to win the last World Cup sprint of the season. Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN), who is attempting to overcome a 200 point deficit in the overall standings, finished second.
Majdic wrapped up the sprint title weeks ago, but is now looking to win the overall as well. She qualified in 9th, but in her quarterfinal, she crashed on the hairpin turn. At first it appeared that Madoka Natsumi (JPN) caused the crash. She fell first, but replays showed the Majdic actually stepped on the tail of Natsumi’s ski, causing the Japanese skier to go down. Natsumi slid into Majdic, taking her out as well. Majdic got to her feet, well off the pace in 5th, and staged an impressive comeback to advance.
The Finns skied well, qualifying five and ultimately placing three in the top five. Saarinen, Virpi Kuitunen and top qualifier Pirjo Muranen all looked strong in the heats and generally led out early. All three made it to the A-final, but Majdic was too strong.
“The race went from hell to heaven,” said Majdic. “I didn’t felt secure in the qualification and than in the quarterfinal I even fell. But after I got better and better. I don’t know why I fell and I don’t know where I got the power to stand immediately up and still take the second place in that heat. I like my yellow shirt but I have to fight for it in the next days.”
Saarinen was pleased to feel strong for the first time since an illness kept her out of the Lahti races two weeks ago.
Anna Olsson thrilled the home crowd by taking third. “It was very fun to compete in the home country and to get on the podium in front of the home crowd. I’m now really looking forward to the great World Cup Final in Falun.”
Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) entered the day in second in the overall standings. She appeared to struggle with her kick in the semifinals and was unable to make it to the A-final, double poling most of the last climb. She looked tired in the B-final, and finished tenth on the day.
Kikkan Randall (USA) finished 33rd, just 1.15 seconds out of the top 30.
Daria Gaiazova (CAN) continued her excellent sprinting, qualifying for the heats. She fell off the back of her quarterfinal early, and was unable to regain the leaders. Her skis seemed on the slow side – similar to the Canadian men. She ended in 29th.
Sara Renner was 40th and Perianne Jones 42nd for Canada.
Racing continues on Friday with the 2.3km freestyle prologue.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.