FALUN, Sweden – The last race of the World Cup season was the ladies’ 10km freestyle pursuit at the World Cup Finals on Sunday. It was clear from the very first starter that they were going to leave every last drop of energy they had remaining out on the course. Like in the men’s race, some charged forward, some slid backwards and others hung on. When they crossed the finish line for the final time there was a united comradery and sense accomplishment, as this line in the snow did not just mark the end of a measured ten-thousand challenging meters, but nearly five grueling months of racing and travel.
Liz Stephen and Jessie Diggins of the U.S. celebrate at the finish of World Cup Finals in Falun, Sweden last weekend.
One happy Alaskan.
Kikkan Randall’s Sprint Cup victory means that she can automatically start every World Cup sprint in 2013, without counting towards an already-expanded quota for the U.S. women.
Tough day out there for Hagen.
Weng takes her well deserved curtain call.
Exiting stage right.
Some classy ladies.
Kowalczyk still smiling.
Bjoergen proud of her teammate.
Weng left it out there.
Gaiazova – finished.
Crawford revved it all the way to the line.
And left it out there.
Stephen was impressive to watch.
Diggins might have been outsprinted down the homestretch, but she went for it out on the course.
Randall at the World Cup Finals in the 10 k freestyle pursuit in Falun, Sweden, where she placed 15th on March 18. The 2011/2012 World Cup sprint champion proved she is one of the best overall skiers in the world.
Randall outsprints Hagen for eigth place.
Kristin Stoermer Steira (NOR) for fifth place.
Kalla just out lunges Johaug.
Weng takes second.
Down the stretch they come.
The battle for second.
World Cup Finals, Falun, Sweden, women’s 10km freestyle pursuit, 2012
World Cup Finals Champion
Bjoergen brings home the victory.
One happy Marit.
Crawford finding some help.
Steira and Kristoffersen
Johaug, Kalla and Weng
Johaug and Weng
Dasha Gaiazova (CAN)
Chandra Crawford (CAN)
Stefanie Boehler (GER)
Liz Stephen (USA)
Jessie Diggins (USA)
Diggins heading up the mini-Mördarbacken.
Randall making friends witht he Norwegians.
Dasha Gaiazova (CAN)
Johaug pulling up the Mördarbacken.
Chandra Crawford (CAN) heading up the Mördarbacken.
Kowalczyk in the background.
By the time Bjoergen had looped around to start up the mini-Mördarbacken she was all alone.
Stephen loves the Mördarbacken.
‘On it, off it’ does not even begin to explain the way Liz Stephen (USA) climbed.
Jessie Diggins (USA) went for it.
Krista Lahteenmaki (FIN, big 12), Anna Haag (SWE) and Anne Kylloenen (FIN, bib 10).
Martine Ek (NOR) bridging the gap.
Kristin Stoermer Steira (NOR, bib 9) and Marthe Kristoffersen (NOR, bib 8)
USST Women’s Coach Matt Whitcomb encourages Randall.
Randall and Falla
Randall and Falla head up the Mördarbacken.
Scandanavian version of a carpool.
Weng, Kalla and Johaug get together to go to work.
Bjoergen and Kowalczyk head up the Mördarbacken for the first time.
Kikkan Randall racing last winter.
Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR)
These three would get together.
Charlotte Kalla (SWE, bib 4) and Therese Johaug (NOR, bib 5)
Heidi Weng (NOR)
Bjoergen and Kowalczyk.
The gap closed quickly over the first few hundred meters.
Kowalczyk charged after Bjoergen.
Marit Bjoergen (NOR) was first out of the gate, hunted by Justyna Kowalczyk (POL).