Maiken Caspersen Falla hasn’t lost a classic sprint all season and she continued the streak on Tuesday in the final sprint of the 2015/2016 World Cup, the fifth stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta.
The Norwegian gave all she had on Canmore’s grueling 1.5-kilometer course to drop her competitors in the final on the second of two steep herringbone hills. With a gap over the top, she had the distance she needed to secure her fourth classic-sprint victory the season in 4:09.26 minutes, beating teammate Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen by 7.07 seconds at the line. Norway swept the podium with Ingvild Flugstad Østberg in third (+8.66).
Behind them, two Finnish skiers bested American Jessie Diggins in the last few hundred meters, with Krista Parmakoski placing fourth (+18.03) and Anne Kyllönen taking fifth (+19.07) ahead of Diggins in sixth (+21.96). For Diggins, it was her first time reaching the final in a classic sprint, and thus, a career best in that discipline.
Another U.S. Ski Team member, Sophie Caldwell raced in the same semifinal as Diggins, where Caldwell placed sixth and did not advance to the final. Overall, Caldwell finished the day in 11th.
A day after turning 22, Canada’s Dahria Beatty qualified in 29th and went on to place 15th overall for her first individual World Cup top 30 in her 13th World Cup start. Beatty finished third in her quarterfinal, behind Jacobsen (as the winner of that heat) and Germany’s Sandra Ringwald.
Two more American women reached the heats, with Sadie Bjornsen finishing in the top 20 in 18th, after taking fourth in her quarterfinal. Ida Sargent finished fifth in her quarterfinal for 22nd overall.
In the men’s 1.5 k classic sprint, Canada’s Lenny Valjas was the lone North American to advance to the heats.
After securing his first Sprint World Cup title in Quebec City (despite placing 21st in the Quebec freestyle sprint), Federico Pellegrino reached Tuesday’s final and edged Norway’s Eirik Brandsdal by 0.54 seconds of his first-ever classic sprint win in 3:46.33.
In his first sprint final, France’s Maurice Manificat placed third, 1 second behind Pellegrino. Manificat’s previous best in a World Cup sprint was eighth (in both a 2010 skate sprint and 2011 classic sprint).
Valjas reached the semifinals after qualifying in 18th and advancing as a lucky loser in third out of his quarterfinal. In his semi, he fought to keep pace with the group and skied near the back for most of the race, ultimately finishing sixth, 7.46 seconds behind Manificat as the winner of that heat. Overall, Valjas ended up 11th on the day for his second-best result of the season (he finished 10th in the classic sprint at the Tour de Ski stage in Oberstdorf, Germany).