Dusseldorf, Germnay – Alexei Petukhov (RUS) backed up a blazing qualification time with the overall victory in the men’s freestyle sprint in Germany.
Petukhov posted the fastest time in qualification by just under 2 seconds – a fact that is especially impressive when you consider that only 5.43 seconds separated 2nd and 30th.
Today’s performance marked the first World Cup victory for the 26-year-old Russian. He did have two second place finishes last season, both in freestyle sprints. He missed qualification last week in the classic sprint.
Today he was clearly the strongest. In the final, he quickly took the lead, and easily held off the field.
“I was very confident, that I would win…I have a very good start force and I was very strong today and also had a little luck. So it all came together,” said Peukhov. “We want to be as strong as the other successful nations and we are proud to fight with our Norwegian friends. So thanks to my Norwegian colleagues for the tough fight.”
Despite missing out on the victory, Norway dominated the race, taking places 2-5 with Anders Gloeersen, Eirik Brandsdal, John Kristian Dahl, and Ola Vigen Hattestad respectively. Hattestad’s 5th was only the 4th time in 19 sprint starts, dating back to January 2007, that he wasn’t on the podium in a sprint race. Last year he won 7 of 10 World Cup sprints, finishing off the podium just once. He won last week’s classic sprint in Finland.
Gloeersen has two career World Cup victories under his belt, but no podium finishes last season, and Brandsdal claimed his first World Cup podium ever.
“I tried to take the lead to get the others tired, and in the last round I knew that my plan worked and that the others were fading,” said Gloeersen.
Nikolay Morilov (RUS) made the A-Final a Norwegian/Russian affair, taking 6th place.
Andy Newell (USA) posted the 3rd fastest qualifying time, and advanced out of his quarterfinal. But for the seconds week in a row, he just missed the final, finishing third in his semi, and placing 7th on the day. FIS eliminated the B-Final this season, so Newell’s final position was based on his semifinal time.
Torin Koos, the only other American to start, missed the heats, placing 56th overall, +10.66 seconds, and three seconds out of the top-30.
No Canadian men raced.
As has become standard, the field was tightly packed, with the top 50 all within 10 seconds of first.
The weather was warm, +5 C, and raining. The track was obviously wet, but stayed relatively firm and fast.
– Hattestad advanced out of the semis as a lucky loser.
– Swedish sprint veteran, Thobias Fredriksson, a last minute addition to the start list, showed good form, finishing 9th.
– Sweden skied a bit better than last week, managing two in the top-11, but none in the final. Bjorn Lind broke a pole in the quarterfinals, leading to his early elimination.
– The seemingly ageless Christian Zorzi (ITA) was 12th.
– Nine different nations were represented in the heats.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.