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The Tour de Ski will take its toll. The distances, the pace, the conditions, the limited time for rest or recovery: eventually, the strain of such condensed and challenging racing will begin to identify the true contenders. Today was such a day in Oberstdorf, Germany at the 17th Tour de Ski where Sweden’s Frida Karlsson dominated the race at each check point, finishing with a margin of more than 16 seconds over her closest rival. On the podium with her stood Krista Parmakoski (FIN) 2nd, and Anne Kjersti Kalvaa (NOR) 3rd.
Americans were led by Rosie Brennan who finished 11th (tied with Norway’s Astrid Oyre Slind). Other American finishers included Julia Kern 38th, Sophia Laukli 44th, and Alayna Sonnesyn 54th. Jessie Diggins seems still to not have found her racing form; she finished 40th, 2:10 behind the race winner. Of her search to recover world-beating form during the challenges of the Tour de Ski, Diggins said, “It’s a long tour . . . honestly, the pressure’s off. For me, it’s just a chase now. I actually love that. It’s more fun for me than having the pressure of being in the yellow bib. Maybe it turns out that this is the best thing that could’ve happened. You never know.”
Canadian finishers included Katharine Stewart-Jones 29th, Lilian Gagnon 51st, and Dahria Beatty 52nd.
As had proven mostly true in the men’s 10 k race earlier in the day (America’s Ben Ogden may be the notable exception), many of the sprinters who had skied so strongly in TDS distance events began fading into the background. At one point in today’s Women’s 10 k classic race, an exhausted Nadine Faehndrich (SUI)—the early leader of this year’s TDS—looked like she was ready to pull over and stop. Such is the strain of the third day of racing in a tour event, made even more challenging by supremely adverse conditions: temperatures hovering just above freezing, and light but steady rain. This is NOT the sort of day that anyone wants to be a wax technician . . .
Women’s 10 k Classic
Oberstdorf’s race course was snowy strip of white winding through green, rain-soaked meadows and forests of dripping pines. Wet and raspy tracks—worn round-edged and indistinct—sent most teams’ wax trailers into the nervous scramble of klister selection, testing, and preparation. Remarkably, few skiers were seen struggling with kick. Predictably, no one seemed to enjoy much in the way of glide. In such conditions, it’s usually those who are most aerobically fit who find themselves at the top of the standings.
The 2.1 k checkpoint saw the leaders tightly packed, with Kalvaa, Niskanen, Weng, Parmakoski, and Karlsson all recording split times within two seconds of each other. The 2.1 k checkpoint also represented TDS bonus points, with Karlsson ultimately crossing fastest, and collecting a bonus that would increase her TDS-leading margin at the end of the day.
Brennan has gamely raced her way back into contention during this World Cup season, her recovery from illness followed by a slow, steady rise through the ranks, gradually improving her prospects with each successive race. On Tuesday in Oberstdorf, Brennan showed that her recent progression is continuing, crossing the 2.1 k checkpoint only 5.5 seconds behind the leaders. Brennan’s early speed would fade a bit on the day as she finished a minute behind race winner, Karlsson, but in an entirely respectable 11th place.
While Parmakoski, Kerttu Niskanen (FIN), Kalvaa, and T. Weng all skied strongly and consistently, it was Karlsson who made the mid-race move that no other racer could match, crossing the 6.9 k checkpoint with a whopping 21.4 second lead over Parmakoski. Karlsson’s advantage was one she would maintain through the next checkpoint at 8.3 k. While Parmakoski accelerated across the final kilometer, it was still a race owned by Karlsson who finished with an advantage of 16.6 seconds. Along with bonus points earned at the 2.1 checkpoint, Karlsson moves into the overall lead of the Tour de Ski with a margin of 20 seconds over her closest rivals, Tiril Udnes Weng and Anne Kjersti Kalvaa.
The 2023 Tour de Ski continues on Wednesday in Oberstdorf with Stage 4, Men’s and Women’s 20 k Freestyle Pursuit races.
Women’s 10 k Classic Individual RESULTS
Current Tour de Ski Standings