Heidi Weng, Kristin Steira, Marit Bjoergen, Therese Johaug (NOR) (l-r)
Anne Kyllönen, Krista Lähteenmäki, Kerttu Niskanen, Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) (l-r)
Kikkan Randall, Sadie Bjornsen, Liz Stephen, Jessie Diggins (USA) (l-r)
Alexander Legkov, Maxim Vylegzhanin, Alexander Bessmerthnykh, Dmitry Japarov (RUS) (l-r)
NORWAY AND RUSSIA CELEBRATE VICTORIES IN DEEP POWDER SNOW RELAY
In deep powder snow at cross-country World Cup in Lillehammer team Norway consisting of Heidi Weng (NOR), Therese Johaug (NOR, Fischer skis and boots), Kristin Størmer Steira (NOR) and Marit Bjørgen (NOR, Fischer skis and boots) succeeded with an undefeated victory ahead of Finland and USA. Russian men's relay consisting of Dmitry Japarov (RUS, Fischer), Alexander Bessmerthnykh (RUS), Alexander Legkov (RUS) and Maxim Vylegzhanin (RUS, Fischer) was able to snatch the victory from the Norwegians in front of their home crowd. Norway II came in second followed by Norway I with Petter Northug (NOR, Fischer).
Johaug opened deciding gap
First skier Heidi Weng reduced the main group significant and at the first exchange seven girls stayed more or less together. But Therese Johaug started so aggressive into her classical part that she opened a 20 second gap within a few hundred metres. Kristin Størmer Steira and Marit Bjørgen could take their victory home without any problems in very difficult skiing conditions. Second went to team Finland consisting of Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN), Anne Kyllönen (FIN, Fischer skis and boots), Kerttu Niskanen (FIN, Fischer skis and boots) and Krista Lähteenmäki (FIN) followed by the US-girls Kikkan Randall (USA, Fischer), Sadie Bjornsen (USA, Fischer), Liz Stephen (USA) and Jessica Diggins (USA). Russia finished fourth due to a strong last skier Yulia Tchekaleva (RUS, Fischer) ahead of the Swedes. Charlotte Kalla (SWE, Fischer) regained a lot of lost seconds in position three but their last skier Britta Johansson Norgren (SWE, Fischer skis and boots) wasn't able to keep that pace and dropped back again.
Vylegzhanin succeeded with a long final sprint
Norway vs. Russia was the name of the duel in men's relay in Lillehammer. Up to the first exchange not very much happened: Ten teams were together, after the second exchange even eleven team skied together within a few seconds. After round about 20 kilometres the three favorites Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR, Fischer skis and boots), Sjur Røthe (NOR, Fischer) and Alexander Legkov (RUS) opened a gap which increased up to 35 seocnds. Due to well-known dawdling by Petter Northug and Maxim Vylegzhanin - only Finn Hågen Krogh (Norway II, Fischer) tried to keep to pace up - soon Norway III with Tord Asle Gjerdalen (NOR) closed the gap but during the last kilometres he coundn't follow the higher pace. Maxim Vylegzhanin tried to win with a long final sprint and succeed, Krogh (in tean with Eldar Rønning (NOR), Chris Andre Jespersen (NOR) and Sjur Røthe) and Northug (in team with Pål Golberg (NOR), Didrik Tønseth (NOR) and Martin Johnsrud Sundby) wasn't able to edge him out. Fifth behind Norway III went to team Sweden who lost the contact to the favorites with their third skier Calle Halfvarsson (SWE, Fischer).