Rogla, Slovenia – Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) added 125 World Cup points to her season total with a victory in the women’s 15km classic mass start this morning.
Kowalczyk finished 4.6 seconds clear of Marit Bjoergen (NOR), the winner of yesterday’s sprint. Bjoergen edged out Anna Haag (SWE) in a photo finish.
There were two intermediate sprints with 15,10, and 5 World Cup points awarded to the to the first three.
“I did not plan to fight for bonus World Cup points today. I wanted to focus on the final result so I was not involved in the first sprint,” said Kowalczyk.
Her idea of “not being involved” is interesting, as she did cross the first intermediate sprint line in 2nd, gaining 10 bonus World Cup points.
“But then the pace was slower than I expected and I decided to fight for bonus points.”
Fight she did, claiming the 15 points in the second sprint.
This was Kowalczyk’s second victory of the season, and third podium finish. The defending World Cup Champion is now second in the overall standings, 50 points behind Bjoergen.
Bjoergen is clearly in good form, and despite missing a World Cup weekend due to illness, is still looking strong. In recent years, she has broken down as the season progresses, but she has made adjustments to her training and is taking a more conservative approach, including skipping the Tour de Ski to focus on the Olympics.
“It was not an easy race for me. My body was very tired after yesterday’s sprint and I felt heavy for the first two laps. After that it went better and better, but Justyna was faster at the end.”
She now has two victories and two seconds this season, and has been in the top-8 in every race she has started.
“I am very happy about my second place today, and am excited I will take the yellow bib home for Christmas. It is probably the last time this season I will wear it as I will not compete at the Tour de Ski.”
Haag scored her second podium of the season, and the second of her career.
“It is great to be on the podium again. I am still not used to it! I like the course in Rogla very much. Especially the uphills are very nice. I fought very hard but Justyna was very strong today.”
Bjoergen nabbed 5 bonus points in the second sprint. Petra Majdic (SLO) won the first sprint – she finished 7th and is 3rd in the overall World Cup. Kristina Stoermer Steira (NOR) finished 4th and took second in the final bonus sprint.
Sarah Renner (CAN) finished in the points for the second time this season with her best result of 09/10. She was 24th, 2:40 off the pace. Her teammate Chandra Crawford did not start due to illness.
Kikkan Randall (USA) scored her first World Cup points in a race longer than 10km, snagging the final point in 30th. Despite the solid result Randall did not feel well.
“I couldn’t really get after it physically or mentally today,” she told FasterSkier.
Kristana Smigun-Vaehi (EST) continued a strong comeback, finishing 5th.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.