Still riding high from her Olympic gold medal, Norway’s Maiken Falla claimed her first classic sprint victory in the Drammen sprints, barely edging her teammate, Marit Bjørgen, while Sweden’s Stina Nilsson battled her way into third.
In the men’s race the Norwegians also proved untouchable, with Ola Vigen Hattestad‘s longer legs allowing him the kick needed to get his toe across the line barely ahead of teammate Pål Golberg. In third place was Italy’s Maicol Rastelli, after being given a new lease on life when a mid-race crash took Swedish contender Emil Jönsson and Finn Matias Strandvall out of the podium contention.
Alaskan World Cup sprint leader Kikkan Randall finished in 7th place after just missing the finals, but it was still good enough to wrap up her third-straight Sprint Cup title. Randall started toward the back of her semi-final heat, but powerful double-poling brought her into second place in the final stretch. However, the mad dash of high-tempo striding to the finish line proved too much, and Randall was edged by “less than a toenail” in a photo finish with Nilsson, leaving her in third place and missing her chance to advance to the finals.
Peri Jones was the top Canadian woman, finishing 24th, followed by a deep field of American women with Sadie Bjornsen in 30th, Ida Sargent in 35th, Sophie Caldwell in 37th, Holly Brooks in 48th and Jennie Bender, competing in just her second World Cup after last weekend’s races in Lahti, Finland, finished 51st. Canadian Andrea DuPont was 58th.
Canadian Alex Harvey was the top North American man, finishing in 24th after advancing to the semi-finals but finishing fifth in a closely contested heat. Teammates Len Valjas and Devon Kershaw were 35th and 54th, respectively. American Andy Newell was 25th, bringing in the top finish for American men, followed by teammates Simi Hamilton in 32nd, Erik Bjornsen in 51st, and World Cup newcomers Reese Hanneman and Sylvan Ellefson in 61st and 69th, respectively.