The second period of the Cross-Country season concludes after the next World Cup events in Otepää. This is a good time for us to make a short summary of the season so far. It has been a very exciting and successful season with good snow conditions everywhere until now. 20 individual competitions (Tour de Ski counts as one) and 8 team competitions have taken place so far, in which a total of 13 nations reached the podium and among them, 9 nations the top position.
We saw some new faces on the podium but also ski veterans were there. Alena Prochazkova (SVK), Marcus Hellner (SWE), Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR), Johan Olsson (SWE) and Dario Cologna (SUI), who won the Tour de Ski (counts as a World Cup victory), all climbed onto the highest step of the podium in a World Cup race for the first time. For Hellner, Sundby and Olsson, the victory was also the first ever podium place in their career. The other new faces on the podium in individual competitions were 29-year-old Marianna Longa (ITA), the youngsters Celine Brun-Lie and Maiken Caspersen Falla (both NOR) and on the men's side, Fabio Pasini (ITA), brother of the Team Sprint World Champion Renato Pasini.
The current World Cup leaders are Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) and Dario Cologna (SUI). Saarinen managed one victory so far and four other podium spots while on the men's side, Cologna claimed victory in the Tour de Ski and finished second in La Clusaz. The most victories so far went to Petra Majdic (SLO) and Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR), both won three times in a row in the first three sprint races.
"The season by now has been a total success and great advertisement for the sport of Cross-Country Skiing. We saw very exciting and interesting World Cup races with various athletes on the top. I have to thank the Organizing Committees for their great work to host such good World Cup competitions. The spectators on-site and in front of TV have increased and we've had great atmosphere at the venues, especially on the final climb in Val di Fiemme where 20'000 spectators pushed all the athletes, from the first to the last," stated Juerg Capol, FIS Race Director Cross-Country, "I am really looking forward to the next World Cup races, the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Liberec and the World Cup Final in Falun."