Oberhof, Germany – Peter Northug (NOR), starting last, yet again came from behind to win the 3.7km freestyle Tour de Ski Prologue this afternoon.
Northug, the overall World Cup leader, and heavy favorite to win the Tour, ranked 31st at 1.5km, 5 seconds off the pace. But as has become the norm, he turned on the jets and just edged Swede Marcus Hellner by .8 seconds. Axel Teichmann (GER) was third, 2 seconds back, and last year’s Tour winner, Dario Cologna (SUI) finished 4th, .5 seconds behind Teichmann.
With a late afternoon start time, the race completed under the lights with a light, but steady snow falling. The track held up well, and the falling snow clearly did not hinder the later starters – both Northug and Hellner started in the last group.
George Grey and Alex Harvey both had solid performances for Canada. Grey was 17th and Harvey 18th, both just under 13 seconds back. Grey was 9th in this event last season.
Devon Kershaw was 37th – not a good result for the top Canadian. Last year Kershaw was in the top-10, starting an excellent run in the Tour, ultimatley derailed by illness. Teammate Ivan Babikov was 50th.
Times were extremely close with only 20 seconds separating the top 50.
Andy Newell, the first American ever to start the Tour de Ski, finished 48th. Newell started strong, and was ranked 25th at 1.5km, just 5 seconds back. But he faded, losing 15 seconds over the next 2k. He looked strong and smooth on the rolling course.
Emil Joenssen (SWE), a sprint specialist, was 22nd, the top finish by a sprinter. He was 4th at 1.5km.
More to follow.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.