Dusseldorf, Germany – The Russian team of Nikolay Morilov and Alexei Petukhov controlled the final of the Men’s Team Sprint competition this morning. The Russians led at every exchange, and at one point opened a gap of 3.6 seconds on the field.
Petukhov, clearly in top form, won yesterday’s individual sprint with relative ease. He anchored the Russians today, outsprinting the usual loaded final. Norway took second, .8 seconds back, and Sweden II was third.
Said Morilov following the race, “It was a great race. I am happy with the results. It is always a pleasure to race here in Düsseldorf, they have a great atmosphere and I like the course. It is flat and fast.”
Conditions were very warm and rainy, with temperatures reaching 11C. The course remained firm and relatively fast. Each leg consisted of two rounds on the .8km flat loop.
The US, with Torin Koos leading, and Andy Newell anchoring, placed a strong 6th, just behind Russia II. The Americans skied in the main pack for the entire race, and were in position to challenge for the podium on the last leg.
Last year Koos and Newell teamed up for a 4th place finish in this same event. But that result was facilitated by a major crash near the end, that took out a good portion of the field. Today’s 6th is arguably a better performance.
There were still crashes on the narrow course. Tweeted Newell after the race, “Rainy here in dorf. Sprint relay one of the gnarliest races. Tons of crashes. Had a good tumble in the semi. We ended up 6th in final. Fun race!”
On such a flat, fast course, the field did not break up until the final leg, and positioning for the final sprint was key.
Yesterday’s runner-up, Anders Gloeersen led Norway to a close second over Sweden II, anchored by Bjorn Lind. Lind got a measure of redemption today after breaking a pole in quarterfinals of the individual sprint. Sweden I did not advance to the final due to a crash in their semi.
“It is great to be a second time in two days on the podium. The Russians were too strong today but we gave our best,” said Gloeersen.
There was also a crash near the beginning of the final, dropping the Norway I team of John Kristian Dahl and Ola Vigen Hattestad out of contention.
Switzerland turned in a strong performance, placing 4th.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.