Rybinsk, Russia – Justyna Kowalczyk (POL), one of the few top World Cup skiers racing in Rybinsk, extended her overall World Cup lead by winning every bonus sprint and the race.
The 15km pursuit featured two intermediate bonus sprints with 15,10 and 5 World Cup points awarded to the top three at each location. Kowalczyk bested Russian Irna Khazova each time to take home an extra 30 points. Khazova ended up 5th, while teammate Olga Schuchkina 3rd at both sprints for 10 total points, also finished 3rd in the race, 21 seconds in back of Kowalczyk.
Evi Sachenbacher Stehle (GER) was second, 9.8 second behind Kowalczyk.
The field was one of the smallest in recent memory. Just 23 women completed the race, over half Russians. The filed spread out significantly, with 13th place nearly two minutes back.
Kowalczyk pulled away early, opening a gap by the 2k mark.
“The race was great,” she said. “In classic everything was just perfect. The skis worked very well. In free technique I had to work a bit harder, but I had nothing to do except race forward. It is not so easy to ski alone, but I felt confident.”
Sachenbacher Sthle claimed her first podium finish of the season, skiing back to the Russian group and attacking in the last loop.
“I’m really happy about my second place. I felt better and better during the race and managed to reach the Russian group and go ahead. This podium removed a stone from my heart as this season started not so well for me. Now I feel fine and hope to reach the top shape at Olympics.”
Schuchkina skied to her first ever World Cup podium finish.
World Cup racing continues tomorrow with a Team Sprint competition.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.