“On behalf of FIS, I can only congratulate the Organizing Committee for the excellent organization of this historic event. The team led by FIS Vice President Yoshiro Ito had paid careful attention even to the smallest details and everything from very high-quality accommodation to transportation to competition infrastructure and beyond was perfectly arranged,” said FIS President Gian Franco Kasper. “We may have wished to see some more spectators especially during the week days, but are very pleased with the exciting competitions on well-prepared courses and ski jumps as well as with the beautiful images transmitted around the world,” he added.
All competitions were held as late as
possible local time to allow for the largest possible TV audiences
despite the time difference to other regions. In terms of the final
competitions, in the ladies’ Cross-Country relay, Finland took charge in the first leg and remained in control
throughout the event to capture the first gold since the 1988 home
World Championships in Lahti. Thanks to an impressing end spurt in the
final kilometer, Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle secured the silver to Team
Germany while Norway was left with the bronze.
In the men’s relay, Petter Northug blew past the anchors of the Russian and Swedish teams in the final uphill to secure the gold to the defending champion Norway. The great favorite Germany finished 4th.
The final ladies’ event, the 30km mass start race in the classical technique, finally provided the chance for the World Cup leader and Tour de Ski champion Virpi Kuitunen to claim her first individual gold
as Norway’s Kristin Steira was unable to respond to her attack in the
last stretch. A small sensation, only 19-year-old Therese Johaug (NOR)
won the battle for the bronze medal against Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN).
With a total of four medals – three golden ones and a bronze – Kuitunen
became the most decorated athlete in Sapporo.
In the men’s long distance race on the final day, Norway's veteran Odd-Bjorn Hjelmeset won ahead of the defending champion and compatriot Frode Estil. Hjelmeset won despite having broken a binding in the middle of the race and having to change one of his skis.<