Kowalczyk Claims Fourth Tour, But Johaug Closes Gap to 30 Seconds; Stephen is Second-Fastest ClimberSunday, January 6th, 2013
When Justyna Kowalczyk left the stadium at the bottom of Alpe Cermis, she was quite sure she was going to win her fourth consecutive Tour de Ski – and she did. But Norway’s Therese Johaug put on a show and drove herself to complete exhaustion, closing a 2:08 gap to Kowalczyk at the start of the race down to 27.9 seconds at the finish. By doing so, Johaug posted the fastest time of the day. Teammate Kristin Størmer Steira hung tight in third, not climbing as fast as expected and finishing 2:39 behind the winner. She was in no danger of losing the podium, however.
Krista Lahteenmaki of Finland dropped Astrid Jacobsen of Norway near the very top of the climb to claim fourth, while Heidi Weng had one of the faster times of the day and moved from tenth all the way up to sixth, passing the likes of Kikkan Randall and Charlotte Kalla along the way. Kalla crossed the line seventh and Randall 12th.
The best American performance on the day came from Liz Stephen, who skied the second-fastest time behind Johaug to move from 22nd up to 15th. Jessie Diggins finished 21st and Holly Brooks 38th to round things out for the U.S.