VAL DI FIEMME, Italy — Russia’s Nikita Kriukov won a dramatic classic sprint on Thursday to claim the first World Championship title of 2013. Every emotion showed as he and fellow podium-finishers Petter Northug (NOR) and Alex Harvey (CAN) enjoyed their successes for an enthusiastic crowd. Below are selected photos from the qualifiers and heats.
Canadian head coach Justin Wadsworth before the start of the men’s qualification.
Alexander Panzhinskiy (RUS) demonstrates a powerful stride.
Alex Harvey (CAN) kick-double poles before beginning the climb.
Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR) leans into the challenging hill.
Eirik Brnadsdal (NOR).
Andy Newell (USA) changes lanes around the corner.
Teodor Peterson (SWE).
Nikita Kriukov (RUS) en route to winning the qualifier.
Paal Golberg (NOR).
Emil Joensson (SWE)
The Swedish sprinter passes by enthusiastic fans.
Anna & Emil flags must come with the fan club membership.
Petter Northug (NOR).
An enormous cheer met Federico Pellegrino (ITA) as he skied by an Italian crowd.
Golberg and Kriukov photo finish to start off the quarterfinals.
Joensson, Toni Ketelae (FIN) and Fabio Patsini (ITA) show their might in quarterfinal two.
Newell lunges and crashes in a photo finish with Matias Strandvall (FIN). Strandvall was fourth and Newell fifth in the heat.
Harvey takes quarterfinal three by a good margin.
Hattestad wins hte photo finish with Dmitriy Japarov (RUS) for second.
Alexey Poltoranin (KAZ) easily takes the last quarterfinal over Calle Halfvarsson (SWE), who looks back to see teammate Teodor Petterson out in the cold.
Panzhinskiy fails to advance after taking sixth in his quarter.
Bransdal, Northug and Pellegrino advance from the last quarterfinal.
The semifinals begin — Kriukov gathers momentum agianst Joensson and Golberg.
Poltoranin breaks a pole right out of the gate in quarterfinal two, and the field doesn’t look back.
Northug and Bransdal go 1-2 in their semifinal, Harvey hammers for third.
The three photo-finishers advance.
Northug had to work for it.
The final round commences: Kriukov versus Northug, Harvey, Joensson, Golberg and Brandsdal.
The men return to the stadium for an epic finish.
Kriukov and Northug (having just cut across Joensson’s track) battle for the win.
Kriukov begins in inch ahead.
Kriukov takes it!
Harvey, who earned an historic bronze for Canada, celebrates with the champion.
Northug takes his congratulations from the ground.
Kriukov relishes being world champion. Photo: Fiemme 2013.