Lahti Ski Games 2018: Sprint preview
PREVIEW LADIES' SPRINT FREESTYLE – Saturday 3 Mar 2018
· Stina Nilsson (SWE) has won a season-high three sprint World Cup events in 2017/18. She won the sprint classic in Ruka (3-Days Tour), the sprint free in Davos and the sprint classic in Planica. Laurien van der Graaff (SUI, 2) is the only other athlete with multiple sprint World Cup victories this campaign.
· Olympic champion Nilsson (sprint classic) is on a total of 12 sprint World Cup wins (classic and free). She is in joint-fifth place all-time among women for most sprint World Cup victories (including Tour stages) along with Kikkan Randall (USA). Nilsson needs two more wins to join Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR, 14) in fourth place.
· Nilsson has reached the final in five of the seven sprint World Cup events this season, joint-most of all women along with Falla and Caldwell. Nilsson did not participate in Lenzerheide (Tour de Ski) and the last World Cup race in Seefeld.
· Nilsson has reached the final in each of her last 10 sprint World Cup appearances (8 wins). The last time Nilsson failed to reach the final was in Davos on 11 December 2016.
· No athlete has claimed more World Cup victories in sprint events (classic and free) since the start of 2012/13 than Falla (13). Nilsson and Marit Bjørgen (NOR) are next with respectively 12 and 10 wins in this span.
· Falla has reached the podium in 24 of her last 27 sprint World Cup appearances. This season, Falla only failed to reach the final in the sprint classic in Ruka (3-Days Tour) on 24 November 2017.
· Bjørgen has won eight sprint World Cup events in Finland (4 in Lahti), at last two more than in any other country.
· Van der Graaff is on two podium finishes this World Cup season, a win in the sprint free in Lenzerheide on 30 December 2017 (Tour de Ski) and a win in the sprint free in Seefeld onn 27 January.
· Van der Graaff can become the first female athlete from Switzerland to claim at least three top-three finishes in a single World Cup season. Evi Kratzer (SUI) also reached the podium twice in both 1984/85 and 1986/87.
· Sophie Caldwell (USA) is hoping to become the second female athlete from United States to claim multiple sprint World Cup victories in a single season after Randall (4 occasions, most recently in 2013/14).
· For the first time since 20 February 2016, a sprint World Cup race will be held in Lahti. Back then, Falla won the sprint free ahead of Jessica Diggins (USA) and Heidi Weng (NOR).
PREVIEW MEN'S SPRINT FREESTYLE
· Johannes Høsflot Klæbo (NOR) has won five of the seven sprint World Cup events this season (free and classic). Sergey Ustiugov (RUS) and Federico Pellegrino (ITA) both managed to claim one victory.
· Only Emil Jönsson (SWE) in 2010/11 (6) and Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR) in 2008/09 (6) have ever won at least six sprint events in a single World Cup season. Both athletes won the sprint crystal globe that season.
· Klæbo has recorded a top-two finish in eight of his last nine sprint World Cup appearances, with an eighth-place finish in the sprint free in Quebec (World Cup Final) on 17 March 2017 as the only exception.
· Olympic champion Klæbo (classic style) has claimed 10 podium finishes in sprint World Cup events since the start of 2016/17, most of all athletes and four more than Ustiugov (6).
· Klæbo is on a total of nine World Cup wins this season (incl. Tour stages and overall Tour wins). Only Sundby in 2015/16 (16) and Petter Northug (NOR) in 2009/10 (10) and 2012/13 (10) ever managed to claim more wins in a single World Cup campaign.
· Klæbo could clinch the sprint World Cup crystal globe for the second season in a row. The last athlete to win the overall sprint title in back-to-back World Cup campaigns was Jönsson in 2010-2011.
· Klæbo could become the second athlete from Norway to successfully defend his sprint World Cup title after Hattestad in 2008-2009.
· Pellegrino is on 10 individual sprint World Cup victories (classic and free) and needs one more win to equal Tor Arne Hetland (NOR, 11) and Jens Arne Svartedal (NOR, 11) in joint-third place all-time (incl. Tour stages). Only Jönsson (16) and Hattestad (13) are on more sprint World Cup wins.
· Pellegrino (9) needs one more sprint free victory to break the all-time record for most sprint free World Cup wins among men (incl. Tour stages) as Hetland is also on nine victories in the sprint free.
· Pellegrino has reached the podium in three of the four sprint free races this World Cup season, with a fourth-place finish in the most recent event in Seefeld as the only exception.
· Lucas Chanavat (FRA) has also claimed three top-three finishes in sprint World Cup events this campaign. Chanavat has yet to claim his first World Cup victory of his career (any event).
· The last three sprint World Cup races in Lahti (all in freestyle) have all been won by Norwegian athletes: Emil Iversen (NOR) in 2016, Eirik Brandsdal (NOR) in 2015) and Pål Golberg (NOR) in 2014.