Johaug defeats Andersson in mass start in Falun

Therese Johaug (NOR, Fischer ***) won the mass start despite the less selective track in Falun (SWE). She succeded over ten kilometers in free style ahead of Ebba Andersson (SWE, Fischer ***) and Heidi Weng (NOR, Fischer ***). Ivan Yakimushkin (RUS, Fischer ***) had previously secured third place in the men's 15k race.

The pace was unusually high in men's mass start from the first kilometer, thanks to the very easy track due to the lack of snow without any particular difficulties. Hans Christer Holund (NOR, Fischer ***) ensured high pace on the first laps, so that after the second lap only 29 athletes were among the top group. In the course of the race, more and more athletes fell victim to the high speed, who would otherwise make mass starts in the top ten if they could follow in the slipstream. Before the last lap, seven athletes fought for victory, three more struggled to keep up a few seconds behind. Iivo Niskanen (FIN, Fischer ***) was the first skier to fall out of the top group and unable to keep up with the speed of Alexander Bolshunov (RUS). Only Sjur Røthe (NOR) was able to follow the Russian, but was beaten by Bolshunov in the final sprint. He celebrated at the finish: With 190 points this weekend with third place, bonus points and today's victory, he almost got the best out of it - the overall World Cup ship has definitely sailed for Johannes Høsflot Klæbo, provided the Russian stays healthy. In the final sprint, Ivan Yakimushkin took third place ahead of his compatriot Andrey Melnichenko (RUS, Fischer ***) and Hans Christer Holund. Finn Hågen Krogh (NOR, Fischer ***) finished seventh ahead of Jan Thomas Jenssen (NOR, Fischer ***) and Iivo Niskanen.

=> 15km F Mass Falun (SWE)

Hardly anyone was satisfied with the changes to the planned competition program and the easy course - both for women and men. But what could they do? "It's a shame that we don't run 15 kilometers and have a interval start. And where is the Mördarbakken?", said Kerttu Niskanen (FIN, Fischer ***) before the start. "It's a shame, but this is this winter. We have to take it as it comes." In addition, the trough of the Central European storm lows were also noticeable in Sweden, especially in the women's race. In the past, Therese Johaug had some difficulties to win the distance races on similarly easy tracks as in Québec (CAN). Today she went full speed as usual and managed to widen the field more and more. Halfway through the first lap, only Heidi Weng was able to follow her, who kept up the pace for the next kilometer. On the descent to the stadium, Ebba Andersson and Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (NOR) joined them, but at the beginning of the second lap Jacobsen realized that the pace was too high for her. The Norwegian fell back to Frida Karlsson (SWE, Fischer ***) and both tried for a long time to reduce the gap to the front again. While the trio worked well together at the front and the gap against the duo grew, the Swedes mostly set the pace there until she was completely exhausted. In the last lap, both Heidi Weng and Frida Karlsson lost contact with their companions. In the front everything looked like a duel between Johaug and Andersson, but the Swede had no chance against the Norwegian. "It was a very tough fight, but I had saved energy for the last lap. Then I sped up to open a gap to the others. I knew that the sprint uphill is very important. I am very satisfied, mass start in free style is not my favorite, and the snow was very slow", said Johaug. Heidi Weng took third place behind Ebba Andersson. Due to the high speed, a large chase group formed in fight for sixth place, in which also Natalia Nepryaeva (RUS, Fischer ***) raced. The Russian turned out to be the strongest skier in the group towards the end of the race and at the end of the third lap she was able to escape together with the Norwegian youngster Helene Marie Fossesholm (NOR), who like Frida Karlsson had to fight through the field with a high start number. In the last climb, the 18-year-old Norwegian broke away from the Russian and took fifth place despite a fall, Nepryaeva finished sixth. Anamarija Lampic (SLO, Fischer ***) came in seventh ahead of Ragnhild Haga (NOR, Fischer ***), who crashed in the second lap in the difficult omega curve. Frida Karlsson had obviously overextended herself in her comeback race after her forced break and ended up in ninth place. "I was a little over-motivated", she said.

=> 10km F Mass Falun (SWE)

* = Fischer skis

** = Fischer skis and bindings

*** = Fischer skis, bindings and boots