A heavy favorite for the women’s 10-kilometer classic mass start in Szklarska Poręba, Poland, Justyna Kowalczyk lived up to her home-crowd’s delight on Sunday, dropping the field soundly by the halfway point and striding to a 41.8-second win.
On her 31st birthday, Kowalczyk finished without anyone in sight in 34:34.2, and waited at the finish to congratulate Russian runner-up Yulia Tchekaleva. Another Russian, Julia Ivanova rounded out the podium in third, 1:15.2 minutes behind, after outsprinting Germany’s Denise Herrmann by four seconds. After Herrmann in fourth, Germany’s Claudia Nystad took fifth, 5.2 seconds ahead of American Liz Stephen in sixth (+1:26.4). For Stephen, it was a career best in an outright World Cup (not including stages).
Germany had three in the top seven with Stefanie Boehler (+1:28.4), who finished ahead of Russia’s Natalia Zhukova in eighth (+1:47.8). Ida Sargent of the U.S. placed ninth (+1:49.3) for her best result of the season, and Austria’s Katerina Smutna was 10th.
Also for the U.S., Kikkan Randall tallied 14th a day after winning her second-straight World Cup skate sprint, Sophie Caldwell was 16th, and Jessie Diggins 24th. Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) did not finish.