At the press conference following the women’s 10km freestyle World Cup race, Marit Bjoergen told assembled journalists that her 40 second victory was her best skate race ever – no small accomplishment from an overall World Cup Champion and multiple Olympic Gold Medalist.
Said Bjoergen, “I think it was my best skating race ever. I knew that I was in good shape as I had a very good race in Beitostølen last week…Hopefully I will keep the yellow shirt until Christmas.”
Men’s victor, in the 15km freestyle, Marcus Hellner felt in control from the start.
“I had a very good feeling, I felt like I was in control control today,” said Hellner. “I had one thought in the first lap that ‘you’re gonna win this’.
“I don’t want to feel like that. I thought that I should be focused on the race and not on what I would be or not. I was trying to stay focused and push myself. In the second lap I got some indications that Dario was faster than me and I thought that I must prepare to fight hard with him the last lap. I was a little bit worried because I felt more tired in the second lap, but then in the third I felt better again. I got, like I said, very good cheering from the people and it gave me energy to go hard at the end.”
Second place finisher Dario Cologna also felt good, and enjoyed the technical course, saying “It’s a good track, a technical track with a lot of corners, and also good uphills. I guess I like it, it’s a little bit like Vancouver.”
Daniel Rickardsson, one of three Swedes to stand on the podium on Saturday has worked hard to improve his skating.
“I have practiced my free technique a lot this summer and autumn. Of course I’m really happy because this is my first free technique podium place. It’s surprising for me too, said Rickardsson.
His only other World Cup podium appearance was a stage victory in the 2010 Tour de Ski. Rickardsson won the 10km classic in Toblach.
He also commented on the technical nature of the course, agreeing with Cologna’s appraisal.
FIS reporter 8,000 spectators for the individual start race and 4,000 for the relay.
Chris Andre Jespersen (NOR) was a surprising 4th in the 15km, giving the Norwegian men a boost with Petter Northug out.
Jespersen was a World Junior Champion in 2003, winning the 30km freestyle mass start. He made his frist World Cup start that year, but since then has only raced in 12 such events.
His best previous result was a 13th, also in the 15km Freestyle in Gallivare – in 2008.
The 27-year-old Jespersen did not expect to be in the battle for the podium “I never imagined this. I do not know how to describe it,” he told Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.
Despite great talent, Jespersen never made the National team, and is skiing for Team Manpower this season. His performance in Gallivare earned him a start spot next weekend in Kuusamo.
The Russian women’s relay team struggled to a 14th place finsih on Sunday. Head Coach Nikolai Sedov was not concerned, telling SkiSport.ru that the team is young and it will take time for them to find their form. Few athletes remain from last year’s squad.
Petr Sedov, the Russian phenom, got most of the press, but Tim Tscharnke (GER), just shy of his 22nd birthday had an impressive weekend as well.
Tscharnke burst onto the international radar when he helped Germany to a silver medal in the Team Sprint in Vancouver. On Saturday he demonstrated that he could be in line to continue a strong German World Cup presence, and could step up to replace the retired Rene Sommerfeldt.
Tscharnke placed 11th in the 15km, his best-ever World Cup individual finish.