Rybinsk, Russia – Vesna Fabjan (SLO) joined renowned teammate Petra Majdic as a World Cup winner, capturing the women’s freestyle sprint in Russia.
Fabjan, who finished on the podium for the first time this season after five years on the World Cup circuit, posted the fastest qualifying time, edging Magda Genuin (ITA) by .62 seconds. Her teammate Katja Visnar was 3rd in qualifying, 3.32 seconds back.
Genuin matched her qualifying place in the heats, skiing to 2nd behind Fabjan. Overall World Cup leader Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) finsihed 3rd.
Fabjan led the Final wire to wire, but it wasn’t an easy victory. Kowalczyk tried to move into the lead several times, but was never able to get by the Slovenian, and Genuin who skied most of the race in 2nd.
Genuin pulled up next to Fabjan in the homestretch, losing out in the final lunge for the line.
“I felt confident from the morning,” said Fabjan. “I knew I could win. The track is wonderful, and the skis worked perfectly.”
Genuin was thrilled with her performance, saying “Rybinsk is a lucky place for me. It’s my second podium here in two years. The audience is great, the organization is very good. I had to work a lot with my legs. At the end it was not enough for the victory, Vesna was stronger but I am still very, very happy!”
With most of the top World Cup skiers absent, Kowalczyk added to her overall World Cup lead, and is looking for a victory in tomorrow’s pursuit.
German Evi Sachenbacher Stehle finsihed 7th, ensuring a trip to Vancouver. Her teammate Nicole Fessel was 9th, one place shy of the German standard for the Olympics. She will need to finish in the top-15 tomorrow to make the Olympic team.
Overall Germany placed four skiers in the top-8, led by Claudia Nystad in 4th, and young biathlete Miriam Goessner in 5th.
Overall only 34 women competed.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.