The Olympic Champion Chandra Crawford (CAN) and the 21-year-old Anders Gloersen won the exciting free technique sprint competitions at the Lahti Ski Games.
For the second time in her career and in this season Chandra Crawford claimed victory in a free technique Sprint race. She finished just ahead Natalia Matveeva from Russia. Third ranked was the German Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle. Petra Majdic (SLO, 4th ), Kikkan Randal (USA, 5th ) and Marit Bjoergen (NOR, 6th ) took the following places. The current World Cup leader, Virpi Kuitunen (FIN) finished 34th in the qualification with a finishing 5,98 seconds behind the qualification winner and didn't reached the final heats.
In an very exciting race over the 1,2 km course in Lahti athletes from six different nations skied in the A-final. The victory for Crawford is her second podium place ever in her career. The 21-year-old Natalia Matveeva manages her second podium place in this season after her victory in the World Cup Sprint in Duesseldorf (GER) in October. Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle can celebrate her first podium place in this season and her first Sprint podium after 4 years (last World Cup podium in Sprint was in February 2004 in Trondheim).
In the overall World Cup ranking, Astrid Jacobsen (NOR) came closer to leader Virpi Kuitunen with only a gap of 79 points left to Kuitunen. On the third place is Charlotte Kalla (SWE), who finished in today's race 8th, 168 points behind the leader.
The sprint World Cup ranking is led by Petra Majdic (SLO) with 484 points ahead of Astrid Jacobsen (433 points) and Virpi Kuitunen (388)
On the men's side the race was also very exciting with having 5 different nations skiing in the A-Final. Anders Gloersen claimed victory on the 1,4 km course just ahead of Andrew Newell from United States and third place took Gloersen's team-mate Ola-Vigen Hattestad. Bjoern Lind from Sweden edged out from the podium and finished fourth while Devon Kershaw (CAN) took the fifth place. Also in the A-final skied Dusan Kozisek from Czech Republic.
For Gloersen it was the second victory in his career after being first in Rybinsk (RUS). Andrew Newell had his career-high result with the second place, one time he managed already the podium, in Changchun (CHN) in March 2006.
The leader of the overall World Cup is still Lukas Bauer, who didn't compete today, with 1096 points ahead of Rene Sommerfeldt (GER) with 688 points and on third position is Tor Arne Hetland with 647 points.
Emil Joensson (SWE), who finished 23rd in today's race, is leading the sprint World Cup ahead of Ola-Vigen Hattestad (NOR, 350) and Anders Gloersen (NOR, 312 points)
The next World Cup competitions are scheduled for tomorrow in Lahti – Interval start race over 10 km and 15 km in classical technique.
Chandra Crawford (CAN): It was awesome! I was really looking forward to this sprint in free technique because the last one was in Canmore and I won that race. For sure it is great to have so many nations in the finals. Devon, my friends, finished fifth in today's men's final – that is great. I hope this victory help as well to push my project fastandfemale.com where we will animate young female to be active.
Natalia Matveeva (RUS): I felt that I started slow but I had a good technique. That was my goal to have continuously a good technique. The last kilometer, I think, it was more mental that I lost so many seconds to Virpi. But I'm very happy to be the leader of the distance World Cup ranking.
Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle (GER): I'm really happy, it is a podium place for me as well for our team; it was a great race for me. It's my first podium since a long time in a sprint race in free technique. Long time ago it was my best and favorite discipline. I always get stronger at the end of the season and I hope I can come back to your Press Conference soon (smile).
Anders Gloersen (NOR): It was surprisingly. I just tried to be the first in the uphill and nobody catches me than in the downhill. I had extremely fast skis. Now I'm looking forward to the race in Drammen but in classical technique I'm not so strong. Anyhow I will try to be there in the top 10.
Andrew Newell (USA): It is a very exciting day for me. Today, it's my best finishing in a World Cup race, I was only once before on the podium with a third place. I had a lot of things in my mind today, I was really like to win that race. I thought I had a good shape in this season but I have a lot of results which were frustrating. I had three things in my mind which pushed me today, first I felt in the qualification in Stockholm and I missed the finals, second is the 3rd place of Liz Stephans at the U23 World Champs and the last one is Paul Robbins, a ski friend of the US Ski Team who passed away due to a heart attack. I would really like to dedicate a victory to him, but now it is the second place.
Ola-Vigen Hattestad (NOR): I'm satisfied with my third place today, it is my fourth podium place in this season. I came also closer to Emil Joensson in the Sprint World Cup, that is great. The highlight of the Norwegian Sprinters is the sprint in Drammen, I'm really looking forward to it.For complete results, please visit www.fis-ski.com