On Friday, Finland’s Matti Heikkinen, 32, won his first World Cup race since 2011, chasing down the time of Russia’s Evgeniy Belov and beating it at the line in the men’s 15-kilometer freestyle individual start by 13.6 seconds in 35:16.3 in the seventh stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta.
Belov had initially commanded the race, holding off Canada’s Alex Harvey by 8.1 seconds at the finish. But the two wouldn’t end up going 1-2. Instead, Heikkinen bumped Belov to second, and Sweden’s Marcus Hellner slotted into third, 13.9 seconds behind Heikkinen and just 0.3 seconds behind Belov.
Harvey missed the podium by 7.8 seconds and ended up 21.7 seconds out of first.
Behind him, France’s Robin Duvillard took fifth (+28.8), Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby settled for sixth (+37.5), Norway’s Finn Hågen Krogh placed seventh (+37.6) and a third Norwegian, Petter Northug, took eighth (+47.4).
Canada’s Ivan Babikov notched his second-straight top 10 in 10th (+1:00.2), behind Norway’s fifth man Hans Christer Holund in ninth (+57.9).
Overall Tour leader Sergey Ustiugov of Russia placed 12th, and is now 32.3 seconds ahead of Northug in the standings with one stage to go.
Sundby is 39.6 seconds back in third heading into Saturday’s final 15 k classic pursuit, and Harvey remains in fourth (+2:10.3). Krogh is fifth (+3:29), Norway’s Emil Iversen is sixth (+3:37.1), and France’s Maurice Manificat is seventh (+3:47.9).
Heikkinen improved to ninth (+4:25.7), 10 seconds behind Holund in eighth, and Hellner is up to 10th (+5:23.3).
Babikov moved into 15th (+7:43.5).
Canada had three in the top 20 in the 15 k with Devon Kershaw in 20th, 1:30 behind the winner. He is 17th overall, 31 seconds behind France’s Jean Marc Gaillard in 16th. Graeme Killick was the fourth Canadian in the points in 29th (+1:48.4) for 27th overall.
Noah Hoffman led the U.S. in 23rd (+1:34.1), putting him in 37th overall. Also on Friday, Erik Bjornsen placed 34th (+2:08.1) for 43rd overall. Tad Elliott placed 41st, Canadian Kevin Sandau was 43rd, Russell Kennedy (CAN) was 45th, Scott Patterson (USA) 47th, Lenny Valjas (CAN) 49th, and Michael Somppi (CAN) 50th.
Check back at FasterSkier.com for a complete report.