Davos, Switzerland – The Davos World Cup weekend drew to a close with an exciting sprint on a notoriously long course. John Kristian Dahl (NOR) claimed his first World Cup victory. Competitors described the win as “well deserved.”
“I’m very happy,” said Dahl. “This victory is my first World Cup win and I feel amazing. It is a tough and long course for a sprint, but that suits me. Petuhkov and Petter were strong competitors but at the end I made it!
“I know that Alexei is very strong. We both are nearly ‘neighbors’ – I come from a place close to the Russian boarder and he is from the region of Murmansk – we know each other quite well.”
Tweeted Andy Newell “Stoked for John Kristian Dahl… his first World Cup victory today.”
Petter Northug (NOR) reclaimed the Yellow World Cup leaders bib with his second place finish. “Good to be back in yellow. I felt much better than yesterday and am happy to manage a podium finish.”
Norway ended up with three skiers in the top-5, a significant improvement over yesterday’s distance race.
The US men were led by Newell, who qualified 7th, but broke a pole in his quarterfinal. He battled to get back in the race, but didn’t have quite enough left at the end.
“When Andy started his quarterfinal he had his pole broken right away,” USST Sprint Coach Chris Grover said. “He got a new pole pretty quickly and was able to get back on to the group, but when they saw he broke the pole, they put the hammer down.”
Devon Kershaw led Canada, qualifying 12th and finishing 23rd after getting boxed out in his quarterfinal.
“In my 1/4 final heat, they all ‘closed the door’ on me hard. Amazing for JKD (who won) – a well deserved, inspirational first WC victory.”
And with two strong races this weekend, Kershaw is feeling good. “I felt really good today though, so tactics aside things are looking up!”
Randall Just Misses Finals
Kikkan Randall had a strong day for the US women, finishing 7th, her best result of the season. Randall echoed Dahl’s description of the course – “long and tough.”
After qualifying 17th, she won her quarterfinal.
“In the quarterfinals I got into second position coming off the downhill and waited until the finish stretch to attack and win my heat to advance to the semis.”
A bit of bad luck conspired to keep her from advancing to the finals.
“In the semifinals I was sitting in a good position going into the steep climb. I tried to make a move up the outside of the hill but two skiers in front of me got tangled up and our whole pack came to a halt as we all tried to get untangled. I definitely got the bum end of that deal as I was stuck and couldn’t move, dropping to last.
“Two skiers got away after the tangle up and were comfortably ahead. I charged hard over the top of the hill and made my way up into fourth. I followed Follis around the final turn and was able to overtake her before the finish line. I gave it everything I had in hopes of getting a lucky loser spot to the final. Unfortunately, our little traffic jam on the hill cost us too much time and I missed being the lucky loser by .6 of a second.”
While frustrated to not have an opportunity to compete for the podium, Randall was happy to bounce back from yesterday’s tough distance race and feels her sprinting is rounding into shape.
Liz Stephen and Morgan Arritola also raced for the US.
“Liz and Morgan raced, but sprinting is not what their focus is. They are focusing on distance but we are putting them in the sprint in order to get them some more World Cup experience – more practice going to the line and knocking heads with the ladies,” Grover said. “They both raced great and improved their sprint points a little.”
Majdic Back on Top
Petra Majdic (SLO) won her first World Cup sprint of the year after dominating the event last season.
“I’m so happy to be back on the top position of the podium after some not so perfect races. I felt strong today and the course suits me. It is demanding but good. ”
Majdic also took over the overall World Cup lead.
“It is also great to be in the yellow shirt – I didn’t believe that it was possible so early in the season. Now I’m looking forward to my home World Cup in Rogla!”
The next stop on the World Cup is Slovenia – a first for that nation.
Marit Bjoergen (NOR) and Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) finished 2nd and 3rd. Said Bjoergen, ““I’m really, really happy. It was a good race for me but Petra was definitively the strongest.”
And Saarinen…”This podium spot is great for me. I did not feel good yesterday, but no I know it was not my shape. I felt good from the qualification on, but Petra and Marit were faster than me at the end.”
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.