BEITOSTØLEN, Norway – “It’s really fun to win here. I won the classic sprint here last year, but you have to handle both techniques. This was a good indication that things are working,” said John Kristian Dahl (NOR) to Norwegian television station NRK after the FIS freestyle sprint.
Dahl qualified 5th, 2.25 seconds behind Anders Gloersen, before advancing to the finals and defeating the likes of Ola Vigen Hattestad and Oystein Pettersen. Dahl failed to make the Norwegian Olympic team last year despite winning one World cup sprint and finishing in the top-4 two other times.
He was followed in the final by Eirik Brandsdal in second and Pettersen in third. Gloersen took fourth on the 1.4km loop.
Petter Northug had his second sub-par race in a row. He did not qualify for Saturday’s sprint heats, and considers sitting out the classic race tomorrow to prepare for the World Cup opener in Gällivare (SWE) next week.
“Petter felt a bit cooked today. You could almost see that he gave up coming into the stadium,” Northug’s personal assistant Eirik Myhr Nossum said to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.
Torin Koos (USA) was the top foreigner in the race. He qualified in 17th, 6.48 seconds behind Gloersen, but was eliminated in the quarterfinals, maintaining his spot and ending the day in 17th.
Harald Wurm (AUT), Oliver Wunsch (GER), and Andrew Musgrave (GBR) in 20th, 22nd, and 29th respectively were the only other non-Norwegians in the top-30.
Thomas Northug, younger brother of the famous Petter, won the family battle, easily outshining his elder sibling. Thomas qualified 10th and advanced to the semis, ultimately placing 11th.
In the women’s race, Maiken Caspersen Falla won wire-to-wire. She posted the fastest qualifying time by 1.9 seconds over Vesna Fabjan. The two were clearly a step above the field today, with Fabjan placing second in the final as well. The women’s course was somewhat shorter, measuring 1.1km.
Kari Gjeitnes (NOR) rounded out the podium. Marthe Kristoffersen was 4th, just ahead of veterans Celine Brun Lie and Astrid Jacobson.
The 20-year-old Falla, a sprint specialist, is looking to improve upon a solid 2010 season where she finished 20th in the classic sprint at the Vancouver Olympics and cracked the top-14 four times on the World Cup.
With only 25 women in the race, all starters advanced to the heats. The entire field was made up of Norwegians and Slovenians.
Racing in Beitostolen continues tomorrow with a 10/15km classic.
FIS Freestyle Sprint Results (PDFs):
Men’s 1.4km Sprint – Heats
Women’s 1.1km Sprint – Heats
Men’s 1.4km Sprint – Qualification
Women’s 1.1km Sprint – Qualification
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.