VAL DI FIEMME, Italy – The battle between Marit Bjoergen (NOR) and Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) is coming down to the wire.
Kowalczyk won Stage 8 of the Tour de Ski on Saturday to take an 11-second lead in the overall standings over her Norwegian rival heading the Tour’s last stage here on Sunday: a nine-kilometer hill climb up the Alpe Cermis, a local alpine ski area.
Kowalczyk went out of the start hot, took a small lead on the second of two 4.5-kilometer laps, then fought off a late charge by Bjoergen to take her first win since Stage 3 of the Tour in Oberstdorf, Germany.
Charlotte Kalla (SWE) was third, Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) fourth, and Julia Ivanova (RUS) fifth.
Kikkan Randall (USA) was 12th after skiing with the lead pack early, while her teammates Liz Stephen and Holly Brooks were 34th and 45th, respectively.