As the air turned slightly cooler in Muonio, Finland, Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) won her third race of the weekend on Sunday in the 5 k classic. In only two short laps, she bested the women’s field by 20 seconds, clocking in at 11:40.7. Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) notched her second runner-up performance of the weekend.
Sami Jauhojärvi (FIN) won his first race of the series in front of a home crowd after placing second on Saturday, topping Alexey Poltoranin (KAZ) and Anssi Pentsinen (FIN) in the 10 k. Jauho said to Hevoskuuri.fi that he wasn’t completely satisfied with his performance over the three days, he felt the best in Sunday’s distance classic. The Finn is getting revved up for the Kuusamo, Finland World Cup on Nov. 25–27, which features a sprint followed by a distance race and pursuit.
Leading the way for the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP) women was Ida Sargent (CGRP/USST) in 26th, +1:13.3. Though Sunday’s 89-woman field was much smaller that Friday or Saturday’s races of 100+, Clare Egan’s 39th (+1:23.1) was not far behind Sargent. Hannah Dreissigacker finished only 7 seconds behind Egan (+1:30.4) to round off the American showing.
With the snow temperatures closer to freezing on Sunday than it’s been all week, Egan said the tracks held up much better than for Friday’s classic sprint. The past three days have been her introduction to European racing, the lone professional rookie to make the trip with CGRP. Egan said she was pleased with how her race today went.
“My wax worked well, and I felt good,” Egan wrote in an email. “Since [before Friday] I had never raced in an international field like this, I did not know what to expect, but I am happy with how my races went.”
CGRP head coach Pepa Miloucheva said she was satisfied with her team’s performance in sub-par snow condtions, but noted they were far from in top form.
“Overall, the athletes were a little tired, as we didn’t [ease] our training much before the races,” she said. “But they were able to put good effort and also have some pretty good results.”
On the men’s side CGRP was led by Pat O’Brien in 61st, +1:25.2 back from Jauhojärvi’s winning time.
“Racing in Europe is always a great experience,” said O’Brien. “The fields are deeper and more competitive than in a comparable race in the US. Have an off day here and you can be way down on the results sheet. Humbling. Have a good race and you can be up with some big names, see where you are fitness-wise, and where you need to improve for the rest of the season.”
Tim Reynolds was +1:42.6 back in 80th, followed by Dylan McGuffin in 101st (+2:10.3) and Ethan Dreissigacker in 129th (+2:59.0). The men’s field was nearly as deep as Saturday’s skate distance with 152 competitors.
Though Scandinavia wasn’t able to provide the snow conditions originally hoped for, Miloucheva and her athletes all felt they had a valuable racing experience in Muonio.
“Despite the luck of snow this year, we were lucky and we ware able to put lots of hours on skis since we got to Finland,” said Miloucheva. “The conditions are actually pretty good if you don’t look at the bottom of the skis!”
Alex Kochon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.