Matti Heikkinen is the new World Champion in 15 km Classic. UPDATED

01 March 2011 13:32

Finland's Matti Heikkinen won 15 km Classic in Oslo.

Matti Heikkinen won 15 km Classic in Holmenkollen. Runner up Eldar Roening lost in the finish more than 13 sec. Martin Johsnrud Sundby rounded off Norwegian success and seized bronze medal. Heikken won the first gold medal in the men’s class for Finland since 2001. Finnish success was complete with Sami Jauhojaervi’s 5th place.

Matti Heikkinen was not mentioned among the hottest names for victory. The Finn finished in the Pursuit on 18th place. However, today he showed excellent performance and outclassed all big favorites.

Heikkinen started slower and at the first intermedaiet at 2.2 km was+5.4 sec behind Roenning who set a brutal pace from the very start of the start and cheered on thousands of spectators both in the stadium and along the course. Roenning held the lead till 7.0 km. In the halfway of the race he slowed down whereas the Finn kept steady pace. In the second part of the race Heikkinen increased the gap and between 10.0 km and 12.5 km the margin increased to 7.4 sec. Matti Heikkinen had a fantastic finish – skiing the fastest split time on each of the last three splits from 7 km and to the finish.

Heikkinen started 90 sec before Roenning and had to wait how the Norwegian responded to his attack. When he crossed the finish line the clock stopped 38:14.7 min. Roenning did not have enough power to strike back in the last kilometers and when he crossed the finish line he was +13.3 sec behind. Exhausted but happy Matti Heikkinen could start celebrating the title of the World Champion.

Nowegian success was rounded off with the bronze medal of Martin Johnsurd Sundby.

The Swedes had a bad today. Best of them, Johan Olsson led the squad of Tre Kronor on 18th place. Big favorite Daniel Rickardsson finished 42nd with a huge gap of +3:12.4.

Another medal candidate Lukas Bauer will not take home a medal from the favorite distance. Bauer finished 7th and lost on Heikkinen +55 sec. Tour de Ski 2011 Dario Cologna will have nice memories of today’s race finishing on 25th place.

Frenchman Maurice Manificat impressed today with sixth place.

Quotes

Matti Heikkinen FIN

It was of course a perfect day. I have had a good team around me. I have done a lot of high quality training. This is an unreal situation. I think this evening will be a special one. If you want to win a medal you have to ski as close to your limit all the time. I skied close to my limit today to make the best result possible. If you want to win the gold medal you need to be perfect in every way. This was my best race ever. This medal is a big thing for the Finnish people. We have had some difficult years. Still we have to do the work. If we want to make good results in Sochi we have to put more resources into our sport and more competent people into cross-country skiing.

Eldar Roenning NOR

I've had a good feeling for the last couple of days. My skis were good and I kept pushing right from the start. When I got tired Matti Heikkinen got many seconds on me. He won, but I'm pleased with the silver medal.

Martin Johnsrud Sundby NOR

This is the event I've been thinking of and practicing for. You just know when you're having a good day and can win a medal.