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Shevchenko in the lead; first victory for Checchi in Canmore

Sat, Jan  26, 2008 - By FIS

Ukranian skier, Valentina Shevchenko, won the ladies 10km Individual Freestyle race under a clear blue sky in Canmore in a finishing time of 26:46.7 minutes, while in the men's race, over 15 km in free technique, the Italian Valerio Checchi claimed his first victory.

Shevchenko finally finished on top today in Canada, after finishing 4th in the Pursuit on Tuesday. It is her first World Cup victory in the season 2007/2008, but she also won a Tour de Ski stage, the Final Climb at the 6th of January. In second place is Evgenia Medvedeva (RUS), 30,3 seconds behind Shevchenko, making it her 4th ever World Cup podium place. Justyna Kowalcyzk (POL) took third place with a time difference of 33,3 seconds from the winner. This is Justyna's third podium place in three racing days this week at the Nordic Centre in Canmore.

Charlotte Kalla from Sweden is still in the lead of the overall World Cup but Virpi Kuitunen from Finland is coming closer and closer. With her today's 11th place, she is now only 16 points behind Kalla. Third ranked is Arianna Follis from Italy, 117 points behind the leader.

In the distance World Cup Valentina Shevchenko took over the lead. She has 335 points. Justyna Kowalczyk is only 17 points behind Shevchenko on second place. Astrid Jacobsen is third with 310 points.

The men's race was won by the 27-year-old Valerio Checchi from Italy. Checchi made his first World Cup victory and his first World Cup podium of his career. The athlete, who is comes from Rome, is getting stronger and stronger throughout the season. Just 8,3 seconds behind Checchi, the German René Sommerfeldt finished second ahead of the third ranked Pietro Piller Cottrer (13.2 seconds behind) from Italy.

Checchi (5th at the first intermediate time) and Sommerfeldt (6th at the first intermediate time) started slower and got stronger during the race while, for example, Anders Soedergren paid for his fast start in this challenging course in Canmore.

Lukas Bauer is still in the lead of the overall World Cup with 816 points, while René Sommerfeldt came a little bit closer with his second place in the today's race. Sommerfeldt has now 607 points. In third position is Tor Arne Hetland, who didn't compete today, with 560 points.

Axel Teichmann (GER) took over the lead in the distance World Cup from Lukas Bauer. He is now 368 points ahead of Bauer (366 points) and in third position follow's the winner of today's race with 319 points.

The next races in Canmore will be tomorrow, 26th of January. On the schedule is a Sprint in free technique for both genders.

Valentina Shevchenko (UKR):
I can say that the race was rather difficult, but my ski's went very well, and I didn't expect this result. It was a surprise for me, but I'm really happy. The track was not very easy for me because there were many up hills and not many flat places. The weather was rather cold for me. My hands were frozen so I tried to move as fast as I could to stay warm and get a good result. I prefer up hills and don't really like sprints.

The tracks in Canmore are maybe one of the most difficult tracks, if you compare altitudes. It is a little bit easier to compete here than in other World Cup's because of the good conditions. Thinking about other Cross Country tracks, there are the same long climbs in Salt Lake City as here.

Evgenia Medvedeva (RUS): First of all I would like to thank the organizers. Everything was prepared very well. The track here is best for me because I prefer uphill's. It is good to have a contest here, and I think everyone here would say the same.

Our coaches planned to come to Canmore as soon as possible because of the time and altitude difference. I think it was good to come here a week before to train.

I didn't find the tracks slow like some of the other skiers. If you compare the natural snow on the track today to artificial snow, it is faster, but there were good conditions today and the snow was quick enough. We don't have many opportunities to ski in natural snow. We have more pleasure to ski in natural snow, rather then artificial. In my mind, everything was very good today.

Justyna Kowalczyk (POL): I started slowly as I didn't feel good after the sprint. The tracks were very good and hard. Like Medvedeva and Shevchenko I like uphill.

I have problems with my throat after the Tour de Ski, but I have good strength. Tomorrow I will be starting in the sprint, and I hope to be sitting here in the press conference afterwards. After that, I will have four days at home.

For me to win three medals in three events was a big surprise because I was sick.

Valerio Checchi (ITA): I am very happy with today. It is the first time for me to win a medal at a World Cup. It is a good track, good condition, and I had a good ski. I was very strong on this track. Everything was perfect. Canmore is very beautiful, Canada is beautiful, and there are good people. There are beautiful mountains, but it's very cold. I live in Rome where there are Mediterranean temperatures. Rome is hot in the summer and warm in the winter. This is my job in the winter. I am used to it.

My father is a cross country teacher. He taught me as a child, like football. Cross country is a beautiful sport for me, for Italy, and for my family. It is very important for me to continue like this for the final overall World Cup standings. This season is very important for me because last year I was injured. I am very happy with my good condition and with my coach, my boss.

It will be a big party for me tonight and tomorrow. I go home on Sunday. I like this kind of long and steep uphill, and long downhill. I get a good recovery.

Rene Sommerfeldt (GER): I was not so lucky with my place in the Pursuit race. I was 18th. I have something to do today. I didn't start to well. It was tough. I was 6th after the first lap, but I am very pleased with my result.

I am really disappointed with Tuesday because everyone passed me on the downhill sections, so I switched skis for today.

I like it to be a bit colder than it was today. -20 are my conditions.

There are a lot of races left in terms of the overall World Cup. I am looking forward to them from weekend to weekend. I will do my best.

Pietro Piller Cottrer (ITA): I like Canada and Canmore a lot. I won here in 2005, and I feel like home which is probably why I got such a good result. The Italians like food very much. It is not so good here.

I am very happy for my good friend Valerio. I was already so sure yesterday that Valerio would be on the podium. I train with him and he's under my eyes daily. He will have further success.

I would like to thank everyone. My coach, technician, everyone.

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