Therese Johaug isn’t used to starting a mass start in bib 27, but she made the best of it on Wednesday at the second stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Montreal, Quebec.
After placing 25th in the freestyle sprint at Stage 1 on Tuesday in Gatineau, Quebec, Johaug — Norway’s overall World Cup and distance World Cup leader — started the women’s 10.5-kilometer classic mass start several rows farther back than she’s used to. She usually starts first.
“Usually I start in the front, but no, I’m back and it’s a lot of people,” Johaug recalled in a post-race interview with FIS. “But I focused on myself today to do good technique. It was really cold and windy, but really nice to ski in Canada.”
After making her way to the front of the 72-woman pack early, Johaug successfully dropped everyone around 4 k. At the 4.6 k checkpoint, she had a 12-second gap on teammate Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, who was skiing in second, 8 seconds ahead of another Norwegian, Heidi Weng, in third.
Striding and herringboning through fresh powder on Montreal’s 3.5 k course (on a blustery -7 degree Celsius day), Johaug went on to win by a minute over Weng in 30:05.6.
Weng outlasted Jacobsen for second place, 1:00.3 behind Johaug, while Jacobsen held on for third (+1:09.8).
Norway swept the top four with sprint specialist Maiken Caspersen Falla, Tuesday’s sprint winner, placing fourth (+1:42.0). Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland notched fifth, just 0.8 seconds behind Falla, and Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg placed sixth (+1:43.0). Finland’s Kertu Niskanen was seventh (+1:43.3) and American Jessie Diggins eighth (+1:43.5), as fourth through eighth place all finished within 1.5 seconds of one another in a narrow set of finishing lanes at the top of a climb.
Two Finnish athletes rounded out the top 10, Anne Kyllönen in ninth (+1:47.4) and Krista Parmakoski in 10th (+1:51.0).
Four U.S. women finished in the points with Sadie Bjornsen in 16th (+2:04.2), Liz Stephen in 22nd (+2:44.3), and Rosie Brennan notching a season-best 28th (+3:05.8).
Also for the U.S., Chelsea Holmes (Alaska Pacific University) finished 38th, Kaitlynn Miller (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) was 39th (+4:05.7), and Ida Sargent (CGRP/USST) 40th (+4:05.9). Sophie Caldwell (SMST2/USST) was 42nd, Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg) 47th, Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation) 51st, Katharine Ogden (SMS/USST) 59th, and Annie Hart (SMST2) 61st.
Canadian National Senior Development Team (CNST) member Emily Nishikawa led the Canadian women in 45th (+4:39.7). Another development team skier, Cendrine Browne of the Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre (CNEPH) finished 48th, Katherine Stewart-Jones (NDC Thunder Bay) placed 52nd, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (CNST) was 53rd, Andrea Dupont (Rocky Mountain Racers) 57th, Annika Hicks (Canmore Nordic) 60th, Jenn Jackson (NDC Thunder Bay) 63rd, Alannah MacLean (NDC Thunder Bay) 64th, Dahria Beatty (AWCA/CNST) 65th, Maya MacIsaac-Jones (RMR) 67th, Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CNEPH) 68th, and Marie Corriveau (CNEPH/Canadian National Junior Team) 72nd.