Marit Bjoergen (NOR) reasserted herself in this early World Cup season, besting Charlotte Kalla (SWE) and teammate Therese Johaug on the final day of racing in Kuusamo, Finland.
Bjoergen, who was unable to advance out of the quarterfinals in Friday’s classic sprint, completed her mini-tour comeback, following up a second-place on Saturday, with a powerful and savvy performance.
Rival Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) was unable to keep pae in the skate discipline leaving Bjoergen to hold of Kalla and Johaug.
Kowalczyk slipped to fourth after battling to keep pace for two-thirds of the 10k skate race. She ultimately lost 30 seconds over the final 2.5k.
American Kikkan Randall wrapped up an excellent opening weekend, skiing up to 5th from her start position of 7th. Randall outsprinted Astrid Jacobsen (NOR) and Yulia Tchekaleva (RUS) in the homestretch.
Overall it was a strong day for the U.S. women. Sadie Bjornsen, who started just behind Randall in 8th, took 17th in the mini-tour while Jessie Diggins skied all the way up to 24th after heading out on course in 46th.
While Holly Brooks and Liz Stephen failed to math Diggins’ ascent into the points, they both skied up significantly. Stephen posted the 9th fastest time of the day, just behind Randall’s 7th and Diggins’ 8th. Brooks was 26th fastest as she moved up from 54th to 34th.
Stephen made up an astounding 35 places, just missing the top-30 in 32nd place.