Falun, Sweden – Axel Teichmann (GER) won the men’s 3.3 km freestyle prologue in the second day of racing at the World Cup Finals. Teichmann edged Dario Cologna (SUI) by .2 seconds. Martin Koukal (CZE) was third, +5.3. Canadian Alex Harvey continued his impressive skiing, placing 8th.
“It was a good race for me today,” said Teichmann. “After the World Championships I was not so strong, and had some poor results. Now I hope that I can continue in the Final Tour in this way and secure the third place in the overall World Cup standing.”
Like Claudia Nystad in the women’s race, Teichmann also won this event at the Tour de Ski. The tall German is looking to overtake Norwegian sprinter Ola Vigen Hattestad for third place in the overall World Cup standings. Today’s victory puts him in a strong position to do just that. Teichmann, as is his wont, started very slowly, ranking 64th at 1.2 kilometers. But he accelerated over the last 2km and looked strong coming into the finish.
The course featured a large climb up to the 1.2km mark, and a challenging uphill finish.
Cologna, locked in a battle with Petter Northug (NOR) for the overall World Cup title, helped his cause with his strong performance today. Because skiers only receive points for these races if the complete the entire World Cup Final, FIS is not tabulating ovrall World Cup standings after each race. Half points will be awarded for each race, and double for the overall World Cup Final standings.
Only 22 points separated Northug and Cologna entering Wednesday’s sprint, with Northug holding the upper hand. But Cologna has been the better in the first two races, and if points were awarded now, he would be 1.5 points up on the Norwegian. Cologna is also 2nd in the overall World Cup Final standings, compared to Northug’s 12th. But the last two events favor Northug – the mass start and handicap finals, both ending in the skate technique play to his strengths. He is 24 seconds in back of Cologna (Cologna received 10 sprint bonus seconds for his result today) and the overall title ill come down to who gets it done over the weekend.
Norwegian John Kristian Dahl, 27h today, and 2nd on Wednesday, leads the World Cup final by 14 seconds. A storng intermediate distance skier, Dahl will remain in contention for a podium.
Harvey, who struggled with slow skis in the heats of Wednesday’s sprints, was back battling for the podium. The young Canadian skied a similar race to Teichmann, sitting in 31st at 1.2km. He looked slow and tired on the first big climb, but in retrospect, that can be clssified as relaxed and patient. He turned it on big time in the second half, and nabbed his second World Cup top-10 in a week. He is now 19th in the World Cup Finals, and a strong finish could break him into the Red Group for the start of next season.
George Grey also skied a strong race for Canada, finishing 19th, +12.1 seconds. As expected in a race of this length, the times were very tight. Three seconds faster would have placed Grey ahead of Harvey in 8th. Devon Kershaw, normally a strong performer at this distance, was 62nd and Ivan Babikov a solid 40th. Babikov should fare better as the distance increases over the next two days. Dave Nighbor was 83rd.
The US started two skiers, Andy Newell and Torin Koos. Chris Cook did not start, withdrawing from the World Cup Finals.
Newell, coming of a 9th place in Wednesday’s sprint, finished 68th, +36.3. He is still 14th in the overall World Cup Final standings. Koos finished 71st, 2.5 seconds behind Newell.
It was interesting to watch many of the top sprinters in the world ski to finishes outside the top 50. Ola Vigen Hattestad was 50th, Emil Joensson 75th and Oystein Pettersen 70th. Wednesday’s sprint winner Johan Kjoelstad was 82nd out of 85 finishers. 3.3km is obviously not a sprint. Al of the sprinters looked strong and fast in the finish stretch, and many often looked good, but the results proved otherwise.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.