Otepaa, Estonia – Hanna Falk, the 20-year-old Swede who has taken the World Cup sprint scene by storm this season won her second race of the year, edging Sprint Cup leader Petra Majdic (SLO), in the classic sprint today.
Majdic led the Final right from the gun, and set a blistering pace over the winding Otepaa sprint course. Falk locked in behind her early on, and top-qualifier Aino Kaisa Saarien (FIN) moved up even with Falk halfway through in an outside track.
But the race appeared to be all Majdic as the skiers dropped into the stadium for the long finish run. Majdic was clear, but Falk and Saarinen closed on the backstretch and Falk ducked past Majdic on the inside of the final corner. The young Swede had a better double pole, edging the Slovenian star by a meter. Majdic shrugged her shoulders as she crossed the line, recognizing there was nothing more she could have done.
“I’m very happy, I feel strong,” said Falk. “Petra is really good skier, but I really felt strong and I’m good in the last part.”
Majdic was not disappointed with her second-place finish, but did not feel in top form.
“I’m very satisfied. I came to Otepää to pick up as many points as possible and after yesterday’s 5th position in long distance I was feeling good, but I had some problems this weekend. Yesterday I was a little bit slow-motion, so I was very glad I could sprint today.
“I’m very glad for the 2nd place, I felt stronger and stronger after every lap. But when I saw Joensson [Swedish men’s winner], how fast skis he had, I knew I’ll have a problem, because there are long downhills and long flat parts.
“Hanna is really a fighter and beat me in the finish.”
In four individual starts this season, Falk has finished 7th, 1st, 6th, and 1st, and also has a 2nd in the Team Sprint.
This year her goal was merely to get a World Cup start. Now she is heading to Vancouver as a medal favorite.
Saarinen took 3rd while overall World Cup leader Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) was 7th.
Great Day for Gaiazova
Daria Gaiazova (CAN) had a career day, following up a strong performance in yesterday’s distance race. Gaiazova qualified in 10th, and advanced to the semifinals, ending the day in 12th.
The World Cup now heads to Rybinsk, Russia and then on to Canmore.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.