Justyna Kowalczyk from Poland and Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR) claimed victory in the first World Cup Sprint in this season on the tough tracks in Kuusamo.
Kowalczyk won in a tight finish of the final heat 0,9 seconds ahead of the last year's winner Petra Majdic (SLO). Alena Prochazkova from Slovakia took the third rank with finishing 1,0 seconds behind Kowalcyzk. As well in the Final skied Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN, 4th place), Evgenia Shapovalova (RUS, 5th place) and Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR, 6th place).
For Kowalcyzk it was the first Sprint victory ever in her career and she broke the series of Petra Majdic who won three times in a row in the years 2006 - 2008. Alena Prochazkova took her fourth podium spot in her career.
The 26-year-old Kowalcyzk is now in the lead of the overall World Cup with 122 points. Marit Bjoergen (NOR), who was not at the start today, is second with 100 points and Petra Majdic third with 92 points.
In the men's race, Ola Vigen Hattestad, Sprint World Cup winner of the last two seasons, held off compatriot Oystein Pettersen, who finished second, and Russia Nikita Kriukov, in third, to claim his first World Cup win of the season and ninth of his career. The Final completed John Kristian Dahl (NOR, 4th place) and home favourite Kalle Lassila (FIN, 5th place) while Emil Joensson took the 6th place by being not at the start line in the final during a series muscle injury.
For Oystein Pettersen it was the fourth World Cup podium while Nikita Kriukov took his first ever podium spot in his career.
In the men's overall World Cup ranking, Ola Vigen Hattestad is now in the lead together with Ronny Andre Hafsaas (NOR).
Justyna Kowalcyzk (POL):
"It is my first ever sprint victory and that is amazing.I felt very strong today already when I woke up but still I not thought about the victory. Last week the track was icy and not good for me but today there werey good prepared tracks.
Petra Majdic (SLO):
"I felt strong yesterday but over the night I didn't feel well and had bad sleep. This morning I was just tired and I was not smiling anymore - what I normally do always. I saw Justyna racing and I was sure she is the strongest today. She know that physically I could not beat her but I tried to beat the rest of the field by my tactic and expierence."
Alena Prochazkova (SVK):
"I'm very happy with my podium place. I like Kuusamo and the track. It is tough but it fit's for me. I hope that I can continue on this ways and feel good during all the season."
Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR):
"It is perfect - I guess yellow (yellow bib for the overall World Cup winner) fit's my as well not only red ;-) I was a bit nervous before the race as at the beginning of the season you are not always so sure about the shape. I was also follow during the heats the performances of Oystein and I saw that he was very strong as well. I'm happy that I made it and took the victory."
Oystein Pettersen (NOR):
"I was training well since May, I had no problems either with Astma or something else. I felt always good and also today during the race. At the start of the final, I thought that maybe today I could go to the Flash interview as the winner but Ola Vigen was simply faster at the end. But still, I'm very happy with my race today and as well with the podium spot."
Nikita Kriukov (RUS):
"It is my first podium and for sure I'm very happy. It is a tough course here with also challenging downhills and a steep last uphill.The people on the course where amazing and I would like to say thank you to them for cheering us."