For the first time this year, Petra Majdic took the victory in a World Cup sprint race, edging out Marit Bjorgen and Aino-Kaisa Saarinen on a tough course in Davos, Switzerland.
“I just wanted to show everybody that I can win again,” Majdic told NRK1 television after the race.
American Kikkan Randall finished in eighth, just missing out on a spot in the finals with a third place finish in her semifinal heat.
Majdic, in the trademark neon green suit of the Slovenian team, began the day by qualifying in third, 2.2 seconds behind Italian Arianna Follis.
Over the 1.4 km course, Majdic powered her way to the win in the final by more than a full second, showing that she may be returning to the form that netted her nine wins last year. Using a blistering pair of skis, Majdic blew by Bjorgen on the final downhill like she was standing still, punctuating the victory with an emphatic fist-pump as she crossed the line.
Before today, Majdic’s best finish of the winter had been in Kuusamo two weeks ago, where she finished second to Justyna Kowalczyk.
Randall had a solid day in Davos after finishing a disappointing 65th yesterday. She won her quarterfinal, capitalizing on some aggressive tactics and a fast pair of skis, then finished third in semifinal heat behind a sea of neon, as Majdic pulled away with another Slovenian, Vesna Fabjan.
Fabjan has been the surprise of the past two weeks, with a third place in the individual sprint last week in Dusseldorf, and then a fourth place finish today. She and Majdic will surely be gunning for top finishes next week in the first-ever World Cup race in their home country, held at the resort of Rogla.
Check back later today for more sprint coverage.
Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for FasterSkier, who also covers city government for the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. You can follow him on twitter @nat_herz.