Cross Country skiing:
– Eirik Brandsdal of Norway was back on the podium in Kuusamo after finishing third in last year’s classic sprint. Brandsdal came from behind on the homestretch to take the victory in a three way photo finish. In second place and the day’s fastest qualifier was Anton Gafarov of Russia, and in third place was Teodor Peterson of Sweden.
– Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland and Eirik Brandsdal of Norway have won the opening stage of the Ruka Triple in Kuusamo, Finland. The classic technique competition also marks the start of the FIS Cross-Country World Cup season.
– In the ladies’ competition Kowalczyk, who in the past has had a slow start in Ruka was dominant in all her elimination rounds. After qualifying in 8th position she strategically moved up through the field each round just before the halfway turn around on the course, and pushed the pace all the way into the homestretch. Denise Hermann of Germany pushed the pace early in the finals and up the final hill but lost grip several times in a row and fell back to third place to record her first ever individual World Cup podium. Also, solid all day was the USA’s Kikkan Randall, last year’s overall Sprint World Cup champion.
– Marit Bjørgen of Norway won her fourth Ruka Triple in a row. Charlotte Kalla of Sweden skied her way from 4th position at the start of today’s final stage and battled Bjørgen up the final hill to claim second place. Therese Johaug of Norway lifted the pace on the final lap which separated Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk from the group and took third place on the day.
– Eric Frenzel, World Champion and overall World Cup winner has stared where he left off last season and won the first race of the winter. He finished 3.5 seconds ahead of Joergen Graabak, the third rank went to Graabak’s teammate Magnus Krog +6.9. Yesterday, Russia’s young jumping sensation Evgeniy Klimov wowed the crowd with a jump of 139,5 metres which meant 141.3 points and a 27 second advantage on Haavard Klemetsen on the cross-country track. Frenzel set himself up in an excellent chasing position with a time behind of +01:12, a managable disadvantage for the German superstar. His biggest opponent from last year, Jason Lamy Chappuis had a slightly weaker jump and went out on the track one minute and 33 seconds after Klimov.
Nordic Combined – Team:
– After having two athletes on the podium yesterday, the Norwegian team (Haavard Klemetsen, Magnus Krog, Mikko Kokslien and Joergen Graabak) won today’s Nordic Combined team event at the Nordic Opening in Ruka. The Norwegian squad crossed the finish line a clear 30.7 seconds earlier than the German team (Björn Kircheisen, Manuel Faisst, Johannes Rydzek and Eric Frenzel). The podium was completed by Team Japan, consisting of Taihei Kato, Yoshito Watabe, Hideaki Nagai and Akito Watabe.