Justyna Kowalczyk celebrates first victory of the season. UPDATED
Defending FIS Cross-Country World Cup winner Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland claims first victory of the season in Rogla 10 km Classic Mass Start.
Kowalczyk made a decisive with 2.0 km to go. She shook off Therese Johaug and unchallenged crossed the finish line in first place. Therese Johaug (NOR) defending the second place to attacking Vibeke Skofterud who finished in third place.
Justyna Kowalczyk was struggling at an early phase of the stadium to find the winning momentum but the Polish sensation made it back to the top in Rogla. Therese Johaug and Justyna Kowalczyk were working in front of the starting field and were leading the way.
Vibeke Skofterud and Aino Kaisa Saarinen could keep the pace high but in the second half of the competition the Finnish skier fell off the pace. Vibeke Skofterud delivered great performance today. Skofterud lost contact with leaders but in the third and fourth laps could come back, overtook Saarinen and caught Johaug.
Justyna Kowalczyk accelerated in the last 2.0 km lap and was increasing the margin to +22 sec in the finish. Therese Johaug had more left in the tank and finished in second positions. Third place goes to Vibeke Skofterud who celebrated today 4th podium in the season.
Skofterud has closed the gap in the Overall World Cup standing on the current leader Marit Bjoergen to only 3 points.
Justyna Kowalczyk POL
I'm feeling really good. I had perfect skis today and I think it was the basic thing for success. Rogla is good place for me. There must be a good air for me. I expected the fight with Therese to be harder. I think the key moment was two laps before the finish when I decided to go away. The victory today will make my Christmas nicer.
Therese Johaug NOR
I'm really satisfied with the race today. My body was really good in the beginning but in the last lap Kowalczyk was much better than me. I did not have any power left. I'm happy for the second place today. I had good skis today too but Kowalczyk could open a gap in the downhills.
Vibeke Skofterud NOR
Conditions were difficult today. I gave everything I had and it was really hard in the second round. In the third and fourth lap I had more power. When I closed up on Therese I started to fight for the second place. When the sprint started I had no power left but I'm happy with the third place. I will be racing tomorrow but right now I'm really tired. I'm really looking forward to Tour de Ski. I think my shape will be even better than now.