The super duel at Bysprinten in Mosjoen (NOR) on Saturday was entirely between Marit Bjørgen and Petter Northug. Bjørgen was given a five-second lead on Northug on the course through the city center.
Shortly into the first of the two laps, Northug had managed to close the gap and hung out comfortable on Bjørgens tails. He stayed there until the last turn, when he decided to pull off a surge and accelerate out of the curve to finish ahead.
Bjørgen answered the surge with an impressive tempo change, but Northug still managed to get ahead.
“He’s a coward. I couldn’t get him to pull,” Bjørgen concluded.
“Marit is actually better than me,” Northug admitted.
Swede wins the men’s sprint
While Northug won the “super-duel” with Bjørgen, the Sweden dominated the men’s sprint in Mosjoen. Northug didn’t deliver a particularly impressive qualifying time. He was eliminated from the A-final in the quarterfinals. In the B-final, Northug was among the last to cross the finish line. It is of course possible that he was saving his energy to win the “super-duel” with Bjørgen.
The men’s A-final was a thrilling battle between Teodor Peterson (SWE), Øystein Pettersen (NOR), Odd-Bjørn Hjelmeset (NOR) and Renato Pasini (ITA).
Pettersen was ahead from the start and was leading for a long way, but had to let go when Hjelmeset and Peterson surged. In the sharp corner right before the finish, Pettersen looked like he was onto a comeback and passed Hjelmeset, but was an inch short of Peterson. Pasini also managed to drop Hjelmeset on the finish line for third place.
Among the women, it was all about Bjørgen. She won the quarterfinal, the semifinal and to finish. No games.
“Winning means a lot. It’s fun to be on the top of the podium. I’m glad I made it to Bysprinten in Mosjoen,” she said with a huge grin after the race.
Italian Gaia Vuerich was second and Mari Eide (NOR) was third.
Therese Johaug (NOR) and Dario Cologna (SUI) were also among the many stars on the start line in Mosjoen Saturday. Neither of them made it to the A-finals.
1. Marit Bjørgen, NOR
2. Gaia Vuerich, ITA
3. Mari Eide, NOR
1. Teodor Peterson, SWE
2. Øystein Pettersen, NOR
3. Renato Pasini, ITA
4. Odd-Bjørn Hjelmeset, NOR
1. Petter Northug, NOR
2. Marit Bjørgen, NOR
From Langrenn.com, April 9, 2011. By Geir Nilsen, translation by Inge Scheve
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.