Norwegians Marit Bjørgen and Eirik Brandsdal used sprint-savvy and rocket skis to outlast their competitors on Saturday in the opening World Cup of the 2014/2015 season in Kuusamo, Finland. Bjørgen won the women’s 1.4-kilometer classic sprint and Brandsdal topped the men’s 1.4 k final for the double Norwegian win.
Third in the qualifier after teammates Ingvild Flugstad Østberg and Celine Brun-Lie, respectively, Bjørgen timed her quarterfinal and semifinal to perfection with a win in each. She went on to surge past Østberg and Slovenia’s Katja Visnar after the final climb into the stadium and pulled off the victory in 2:58.33.
Visnar was second, 0.46 seconds back, and Maiken Caspersen Falla came through in third, 1.7 behind Bjørgen. Østberg placed fourth (+3.02) and American Ida Sargent hung tough in fifth (+5.95) for a career best in the first World Cup race of the season.
Russia’s Natalia Matveeva was sixth, 12.37 seconds after Bjørgen.
In the men’s race, Brandsdal qualified sixth behind Russia’s Alexander Panzhinskiy, Sondre Turvoll Fossli (Norway), Pal Golberg (Norway), Timo Andre Bakken (Norway), and Matias Strandvall (Finland), respectively.
Brandsdal, who was third in last year’s Kuusamo classic sprint after Russian Nikita Kriukov and Norwegian Petter Nothug, respectively, went on to win his quarterfinal and semifinal on Saturday. With three Norwegians leading into the final climb, he held off Northug and Fossli into the finish for the overall victory in 2:34.84. Northug, who passed Fossli on that climb, placed second for the second-straight year 0.47 seconds back, and Fossli finished third (+1.18) just ahead of another Norwegian, Finn Hagen Krogh (+1.69) in fourth.
Russia’s Alexey Petukhov placed fifth (+4.54) and Sergey Ustiugov faded after a strong charge for first to finish sixth (+14.63).
North American results:
Women’s 1.4 k classic sprint
5. Ida Sargent (USA)
16. Kikkan Randall (USA): 4th in quarterfinal
29. Sadie Bjornsen (USA): 6th in quarterfinal
48. Perianne Jones (CAN)
64. Jessie Diggins (USA)
Men’s 1.4 k classic sprint
14. Alex Harvey (CAN): 3rd in quarterfinal
26. Simi Hamilton (USA): 6th in quarterfinal
28. Andy Newell (USA): 6th in quarterfinal
49. Lenny Valjas (CAN)
56. Erik Bjornsen (USA)
57. Devon Kershaw (CAN)
67. Reese Hanneman (USA)