Kowalczyk wins opening stage of Ruka Triple

29 November 2013 15:04
Ruka Triple podium 2013
Ruka Triple podium 2013 -

Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) and Eirik Brandsdal (NOR) have won the opening stage of the Ruka Triple in Kuusamo, Finland.  The classic technique competition also marks the start of the FIS Cross-Country World Cup season present by Viessmann.  

In the ladies' competition Kowalczyk, who in the past has had a slow start in Ruka was dominant in all her elimination rounds.  After qualifying in 8th position she strategically moved up through the field each round just before the halfway turn around on the course, and pushed the pace all the way into the homestretch.  Denise Hermann of Germany pushed the pace early in the finals and up the final hill but lost grip several times in a row and fell back to third place to record her first ever individual World Cup podium.  Also, solid all day was the USA's Kikkan Randall, last year's overall Sprint World Cup champion.  Despite being the overall sprint champion the past two years, today's 2nd place result for Randall was her first ever classic technique podium finish.  The day's fastest qualifier, Marit Bjørgen of Norway did not advance out of her quarterfinal.  This will be the first time in the 4 year history of the mini-tour here in Kuusamo that someone other than Bjørgen will wear the yellow leaders bib.  

  • Kowalczyk qualified with 8th fastest time
  • First win in Kuusamo Sprint Classic for Justyna Kowalczyk since 2009
  • First individual podium for Denise Herrmann, (GER)
  • First individual classic sprint podium for Kikkan Randall (USA)
  • Defending Ruka Triple winner from 2012 Marit Bjørgen was eliminated in quarterfinals
Athletes' Quotes

Kikkan Randall (USA)
I have always wanted to improve my classic sprint skiing, I have done lot of that this summer. I'm happy that I have been healthy, have had a really good summer in training. The last uphill here is challenging. There is lot of noise and places are changing. Once you get on the top of the hill there is still a long way to go.

Denise Herrmann (GER)
I did not expect to be on the podium today. In the quarterfinal I fulfilled the German Olympic qualification criteria and I could ski more relaxed. 

Justyna Kowalczyk (POL)
Sprints are not my favourite competitions but classic sprint is fine for me. I have not been on the podium in the start of the season that often. Now I have two victories in Kuusamo.
Tomorrow I'm hoping for a strong day, but on Sunday I do not know what happens. Last time I competed in 10 km free I was not so good.

The second stage of the Ruka Triple will go tomorrow in the 5 km classic technique.  

Ladies' Sprint Final
5. BRUN-LIE Celine NOR

Ruka Triple Standing after Stage 1
1. Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) 2:40.3
2. Denise Herrmann, (GER) +3.8 sec
3. Kikkan Randall, (USA) +4.8 sec

Complete results for ladies available HERE.