After winning their respective 10- and 15-kilometer freestyle races on Thursday, Norway’s Ragnhild Haga and Russian Sergey Ustiugov continued to dominate the field and claimed their second U23 World Championships titles in Saturday’s skiathlons in Liberec, Czech Republic.
In the women’s 15 k skiathlon, Haga outsprinted Italy’s Deborah Agreiter to the line, winning by 1.1 second in 40:16.9. Sixth after the classic portion behind leader Elena Soboleva of Russia, who ultimately placed sixth (+37.4). Haga clocked the second-fastest skate leg to ski to first, and Norwegian teammate Kari Oeyre Slind was quickest in the skate to rise to third (+2.3).
In the men’s 30 k, Ustiugov pulled out a 2.5-second victory in 1:11.37.1 over Russian compatriot Evgeniy Belov. Ustiugov led at the transition and cruised through the skate leg to finish on top, and Belov hung in second for most of the race. Kazakhstan’s Martin Starostin was third (+32.4).
Leading the North Americans in 16th, Erik Bjornsen (Alaska Pacific University/U.S. Ski Team) was 16th through the transition and held his own to finish 2:03.8 behind Ustiugov. Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) was 19th for the U.S., 1:45.8 behind Haga.
Other Americans: 28. Sophie Caldwell (SMST2), 29. Annie Pokorny (Middlebury), 31. Annie Hart (Dartmouth), 40. Eric Packer (SMST2)
Canadians: 32. Annika Hicks (AWCA), 39. Heidi Widmer (AWCA), 43. Marlis Kromm (AWCA), 46. Andrea Lee (NDC-Thunder Bay), 47. Patrick Stewart-Jones (AWCA)