LAHTI, Finland (March 8) - Alexander Legkov of Russia and Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk won World Cup distance races in Finland Sunday. For Legkov it was the first win of the season and Kowalczyk's win makes her the women's overall leader. Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT) topped U.S. results in 49th.
Legkov led the field in a 15K freestyle, skiing the distance in 33:05, less than 10 seconds faster than second place finisher Pietro Piller Cottrer of Italy. Austrian Christian Hoffmann was third. Piller Cottrer leads the men's distance standings.
For the Americans, Sunday's race was more of a recovery operation than a chance at personal bests.
"Liz Stephen decided to race, she has been sick, too. It was more of a race back for everyone except Garrott Kuzzy, who said he felt pretty good and skied a solid race," U.S. Cross Country Coach Justin Wadsworth said. "We didn't have a lot of high expectations for today."
Wadsworth said new courses in Lahti also presented a challenge as the 5K loop was filled with steep up and down.
"It was really fast and technical and very hard on the legs," Wadsworth said.
Kuzzy was 62nd fastest for the men. Chris Cook, normally a sprinter, got a distance race under his belt finishing 72nd.
The Team now heads to Trondheim, Norway where a World Cup classic sprint will be held on Thursday, March 12.
2009 VIESSMANN CROSS COUNTRY FIS WORLD CUP
Lahti, Finland - March 8, 2009
Freestyle 10K, 15K
1. Alexander Legkov, Russia, 33:05.9
2. Pietro Piller Cottrer, Italy, 33:13.4
3. Christian Hoffmann, Austria, 33:26.6
4. Sergei Dolidovich, Bulgaria, 33:27.6
5. Giorgio Di Centa, Italy, 33:30.2
62. Garrott Kuzzy, Hayward, WI, 35:26.2
71. Leif Orin Zimmermann, Bozeman, MT, 35:54.4
72. Chris Cook, Rhinelander, WA, 35:56.4
87. Colin Rodgers, 37:29.9
1. Justyna Kowalczyk, Poland, 24:38.6
2. Charlotte Kalla, Sweden, 25:01.0
3. Marthe Kristoffersen, Norway, 25:05.7
4. Evgenia Medvedeva, Russia, 25:05.8
5. Arianna Follis, Italy, 25:08.4
49. Liz Stephen, East Montpelier, VT, 27:13.1