March 14th, 2012
STOCKHOLM, Sweden – Marit Bjørgen (NOR) turned in a characteristically strong performance in the Royal Palace Sprint on Wednesday afternoon, winning her fourth consecutive race when she overcame a gutsy performance by Russian Julia Ivanova.
Ivanova led for most of the final before Bjørgen pulled even entering the final hill. The Russian battled valiantly, but ultimately succumbed to the Norwegian powerhouse.
Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR) used a strong push over the last 200 meters to take third, while Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) saw her chances at the World Cup overall title fade when she tripped herself up on the last corner, ending her hope for the podium.
Kikkan Randall (USA) led four North American women in the heats, placing 8th after being eliminated in the semifinals. Chandra Crawford was 12th, Dasha Gaiazova 23rd and Alysson Marshall 28th.
Marshall earned her first career World Cup points with the performance.
Bjørgen now leads Kowalczyk by 160 points in the overall. The lead is not technically insurmountable, but with the way Bjørgen is racing, it is hard to imagine a scenario, short of illness or injury, that would cause the lead to change hands at this point.
Due to travel complete race reports will not be posted until later on Wednesday night.
All 2012 FIS World Cup Finals coverage is brought to you through the generous support of Fischer Sports USA, proud sponsors of Kikkan Randall, 2012 overall Sprint Cup Champion.