Charlotte Kalla (SWE); Marit Bjoergen (NOR), Therese Johaug (NOR) (l-r)
Charlotte Kalla (SWE); Marit Bjoergen (NOR), Therese Johaug (NOR) (l-r)
Marit Bjoergen (NOR)
Therese Johaug (NOR), Charlotte Kalla (SWE)
Justyna Kowalczyk (POL)
Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR)
Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR), Alexander Legkov (RUS), Maxim Vylegzhanin (RUS) (l-r)
Maxim Vylegzhanin (RUS)


As supposed Marit Bjørgen (NOR, Fischer skis and boots) was able to celebrate another victory in Ruka Triple at cross-country World Cup opener in Kuusamo. She succeeded ahead of Charlotte Kalla (SWE, Fischer) and Therese Johaug (NOR, Fischer skis and boots). Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR, Fischer skis and boots) succeeded in the final stretch ahead of Maxim Vylegzhanin (RUS, Fischer).
Exciting handicap race
Compared to previous years the final stage of Ruka Triple wasn't a fast-selling item for Marit Bjørgen. The Norwegian started in second position 25 seconds behind Justyna Kowalczyk (POL, Fischer skis and boots) into her race, Therese Johaug and Charlotte Kalla 45 seconds behind the Pole who skied skies with pain in her shin muscles in free races for years. During the first of four 2.5 k laps the three chasers made up for lost time, during the second lap skied a bit slower and all three together caught up Kowalczyk after the first half of the race. Now the Swede kept up the pace and the Pole had to fight to keep in touch with the group. When Johaug attacked at the long uphill during the last lap Kowalczyk lost the contact to the others. In the final stretch Marit Bjørgen edged out Kalla and Johaug, Kowalczyk came in fourth, 30 seconds back. "During the first lap we regained a lot of lost time, then Therese and Charlotte caught me up and we skied together. I knew Therese would attack during the last lap and I tried to stay in contact", Bjørgen explained after the race. Round about one minute behind Kikkan Randall (USA, Fischer) edged out two other girls int he final sprint finishing fifth, Yulia Tchekaleva RUS, Fischer) came in seventh ahead of Denise Herrmann (GER, Fischer). Julia Ivanova (RUS, Fischer) finished tenth.

Tactical race with exciting last lap
Like in other men's races it was affected by a lot of tactic first. After the start soon a group of 20 athletes was together which was reduced down to 13 athletes during the next kilometres. The race became interesting during the last lap: Alexander Legkov (RUS) attacked at the uphill and only Maxim Vylegzhanin and Martin Johnsrud Sundby who did a lot of work during the race were able to follow him. In the final stretch the Norwegian edged out his Russian opponents and he won Ruka Triple. "It was very hard, it's so cold here and additional to that a very hard race. 1.5 kilometres before finish the attacks began. I had to give everything, especially in the uphill. On the last metres I hoped for the victory, but then I saw Vylegzhanin and it was a hard fight", Sundby said. On their way to the stadium another group of three with Maurice Manificat (FRA, Fischer skis and boots), Sergey Ustiugov (RUS, Fischer skis and boots) and Calle Halfvarsson (SWE, Fischer) escaped from the group and they finished fourth to sixth. Marcus Hellner (SWE, Fischer) came in seventh. Lukas Bauer (CZE, Fischer) dropped back to eleventh at the end of the group. Petter Northug (NOR, Fischer skis and boots) just finished 13th, 37 seconds back.
10km F Handicap Damen, Kuusamo (FIN):
1. Marit Bjørgen
NOR 00.27.28,10
2. Charlotte Kalla
SWE 00.27.28,90
3. Therese Johaug
NOR 00.27.29,40
4. Justyna Kowalczyk
POL 00.27.59,00
5. Kikkan Randall
USA 00.28.30,00
6. Astrid Jacobsen
NOR 00.28.30,70
7. Yulia Tchekaleva
RUS 00.28.32,00
8. Denise Herrmann
GER 00.29.06,10
9. Heidi Weng
NOR 00.29.06,80
10. Julia Ivanova
RUS 00.29.07,20
11. Britta Johansson Norgren
SWE 00.29.07,40
12. Krista Lähteenmäki
FIN 00.29.11,40
13. Ingvild Flugstad Østberg
NOR 00.29.12,70
14. Kristin Störmer Steira
NOR 00.29.17,20
15. Anne Kyllönen
FIN 00.29.18,40
15km F Handicap Herren, Kuusamo (FIN):
1. Martin Johnsrud Sundby
NOR 00.36.50,60
2. Maxim Vylegzhanin
RUS 00.36.50,70
3. Alexander Legkov
RUS 00.36.51,20
4. Maurice Manificat
FRA 00.36.54,60
5. Sergey Ustiugov
RUS 00.36.55,10
6. Calle Halfvarsson
SWE 00.36.55,20
7. Marcus Hellner
SWE 00.37.01,80
8. Chris Jespersen
NOR 00.37.02,30
9. Noah Hoffman
USA 00.37.02,80
10. Alexander Bessmertnykh
RUS 00.37.03,30
11. Lukas Bauer
CZE 00.37.04,40
12. Jean Marc Gaillard
FRA 00.37.20,50
13. Petter jr Northug
NOR 00.37.27,80
14. Ilia Chernousov
RUS 00.37.29,50
15. Sjur Røthe
NOR 00.37.30,00