Twenty-year-old Sergey Ustiugov of Russia is back on top. After sweeping the 2012 Junior World Championships in Erzurum, Turkey, Ustiugov claimed his first U23 world title on Thursday, beating Russian teammate and World Cup staple Evgeniy Belov, 22, by 19.7 seconds Thursday to win the men’s 15-kilometer freestyle in Liberec, Czech Republic.
Less than a week after his second World Cup appearance in La Clusaz, France, where Ustiugov helped Russia’s B-team place sixth in the 4 x 7.5 k relay, he posted the fastest time of 35:44.1 in the individual start.
German World Cup and Tour de Ski competitor Thomas Bing was third, 42.4 seconds back. Great Britain’s World Cup starter Andrew Musgrave, 22, placed fourth (+56.5) and Damien Tarantola of France was fifth (+1:09.6).
In the women’s 10 k, Norway’s Ragnhild Haga captured the victory by nearly 30 seconds. The 21-year-old World Cup skier completed the three-lap course in 27:50.4, 29.5 seconds faster than Anastasia Slonova of Kazakhstan in second. Italian Debora Agreiter was third, just 0.4 seconds back from Slonova, and Tuesday’s classic sprint runner-up, Sandra Ringwald of Germany was fourth (+30.4). Norway put three in the top six with Tuva Toftdahl Staver in fifth and Kari Oeyre Slind in sixth. Russia swept seventh through 10th.
Leading the North Americans, Caitlin Patterson of the U.S. (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) was 14th (+1:41.5). Sophie Caldwell (Stratton Mountain School T2 Team) followed in 17th (+2:05.5). On the men’s side, Erik Bjornsen (Alaska Pacific University/U.S. Ski Team) notched 15th (+2:00.3).
Other American results: Women: 29. Annie Pokorny (Middlebury), 42. Liz Guiney (UNH); Men: 39. Sam Tarling (Dartmouth), 50. David Norris (MSU), 54. Eric Packer (SMST2)
Canadian results: Women: 28. Heidi Widmer (AWCA), 37. Annika Hicks (AWCA), 40. Andrea Lee (NDC-Thunder Bay), 43. Marlis Kromm (AWCA); Men: 63. Colin Abbott (YES), 71. Patrick Stewart-Jones (AWCA)