Marit Bjoergen and Eldar Roenning, both of Norway, won the World Cup Opening Sprint in Duesseldorf.
The 26-year-old Bjoergen celebrated her fourth victory in Duesseldorf today. This was in total the 27 World Cup Victory in her career. The young Russian sprinter Natalia Matveeva finished in the second place while the third place was taken by Marit's team mate Ella Gjoemle. Also in the final skied also Lina Andersson (SWE, 4th), Arianna Follis (ITA, 5th) and Mona-Liisa Malvalehto from Finland as the 6th. This was the first time that the new rules for the sprint races with 6 athletes in each heat were used ( http://www.fis-ski.com/data/document/schedule-sprint-30_oct2006.pdf ).
For Eldar Roenning (NOR), the winner of today's sprint, it was the second sprint victory in his career and the first in skating. As one of the two Lucky Losers, Roenning's team mate Oystein Pettersen reached the A-final and took the second place there. Previously, in the quarterfinal, Pettersen had broken one of his poles at the start but ended up catching up with the field and winning his heat. The Norwegian triple victory was completed by Tor Arne Hetland, who reached his 24th podium place. The additional places in the A-final were taken by Tobias Angerer (GER, 4th) who profited from the new Lucky Loser rule twice (to reach both the semi-final and the A-final), Jon Kristian Dahl (NOR, 5th) and the youngster Josef Wenzl (GER, 6th).
Spectators: more than 150.000
Weather: cloudy, +15 Â°C
Snow Conditions: wet
Marit Bjoergen (NOR): â€œIt was my fourth win here in Duesseldorf. Next year I hope to challenge Peter Larsson’s record with my fifth win here. The races here are great, and there are lots of people always which makes it fun to compete here.
My main goal for the season is the World Ski Championships (WSC) in Sapporo. I hope to do better there than I did in Turin. I think the Tour de Ski is like made for me so it is important too, but it will partially be just training for me before the WSC.
We were in Val Senales (ITA) before these races but are now returning to Norway hoping to get on snow there. We will then compete in Beitostoelen (NOR) before we travel to Gaellivare (SWE) World Cup.
I plan not to compete in all World Cup races because I will want to do as well as I can at the World Ski Championships in Sapporo. There are only a few races I will leave out, however.â€
Natalia Matveeva (RUS): â€œI really like skating sprints, more than classical technique ones. I especially like the race here, as I was also on the podium last year — it was my first time on the podium then. I hope that this second place will be a start of a much better season than last year for me.â€
Ella Gjoemle (NOR): â€œI am happy to be here today. The new rule for Lucky Losers helped me to get into the final today so I quite like it. My best results have so far been in sprint races but I also want to do well in distance races. I also hope to qualify for the Norwegian team for the Tour de Ski.
Today’s race was good and I am very happy with 3rd place. The races here in Duesseldorf are fun. I really like city sprints where there are a lot of spectators. The snow was a bit slow today but we were still skiing fast.â€
Eldar Roenning (NOR): â€œThis was my first victory in a skating sprint as I have won in a classical sprint before. My primary goal for the season is the World Championships in Sapporo, especially the classical sprint there — I really hope to qualify for the Norwegian team for that race. The Tour de ski is another important season goal for me. Besides being a good sprinter I am also strong in distance so I think I will do well there. I did not expect to be so good so early in the season so I am surprised about being on the podium.â€
Oystein Pettersen (NOR): â€œThis is my first podium place ever so I am a bit surprised to be here, and a bit nervous. But really, I am a happy man today!
This is my first year on the national team, and I am also part of team Manpower. My summer preparations went really well so that might be why I am sitting here now. I did break a pole in the beginning of the quarterfinal — I am not quite sure what happened there. But I was feeling very strong today, so I just tried to ski hard and catch up with the field, and everything worked out as planned.â€
Tor Arne Hetland (NOR): â€œIt must be my 20th something podium place here so I am happy. My main goal for the season is the World Ski Championships in Sapporo. But I also want to do well on the Tour de Ski and I hope to fight for the victory in the overall World Cup with Tobias Angerer and the other strong guys.
I expect the Tour de Ski to be hard but the idea is good and we’ll have to see how it goes. After these races, we hope to be able to starting skiing on Norwegian snow and then to compete in Beitoestoelen (NOR). The three of us on the podium today are not only in good shape but also are very good friends and have trained together for many years. Being here together is great!â€