Ideally positioned coming into the final corner, Eldar Rønning tucked behind the two leaders, Norwegian teammate Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin, and accelerated before the line, winning Saturday’s 15 k classic mass start at World Cup Finals in Falun, Sweden.
Rønning outlunged Vylegzhanin by 0.1 seconds, and Sundby settled for third 1.0 seconds back. After a rough start, in which Petter Northug was skiing outside the top 20, the Norwegian World Cup leader finished fourth, 5.5 seconds behind to maintain his lead in the mini tour.
Leading into the last of five laps, Daniel Richardsson of Sweden ended up fifth (+5.8), Italy’s Giorgio Di Centa notched sixth (+7.2) and teammate Dietmar Noeckler was seventh (+13.8).
Finn Hagen Krogh of Norway placed eighth, Sweden’s Emil Jonsson took ninth (after leading the third and fourth laps) and Russia’s Evgeniy Belov finished 10th.
Dario Cologna and Alexander Legkov didn’t come close enough to Northug to challenge him for the overall World Cup title, placing 12th and 15th, respectively. Legkov is now 80 points behind in the overall standings, and Northug is 30.5 seconds ahead of Vylegzhanin and 40.2 seconds ahead of Rønning in the mini tour heading into the final freestyle pursuit.
Noah Hoffman led the Americans in 25th (+1:16.3). Canada’s Alex Harvey was 30th for the second-straight day, and Devon Kershaw placed 36th. Andy Newell of the U.S. was 38th, Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation/Rossignol) placed 39th, and Canadian Ivan Babikov was 41st.
Also for Canada, Lenny Valjas finished 50th and Michael Somppi (AWCA) was last in 51st.