Marit Bjørgen (NOR) on top in World Cup return
Norway's Marit Bjørgen was untouchable today in the 10 km classic individual start in Toblach, Italy. She led at both intermediate check points. At the finish line, Bjørgen's time of 26:54.2 gave her the win by +36. 7 seconds over her teammate Therese Johaug. At the 2.1 and 6.7 km check points Johaug was in third place but a strong effort over the final kilometers moved her to second. Charlotte Kalla of Sweden had not competed on World Cup since the Davos competitions in mid December but showed that her shape is still high finishing in third place today +42.9 behind Bjørgen. At the 2.1 km mark Kalla was in 7th position and 6th just past halfway but stormed up to third place at the line.
Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland who looked set to be second in today's competition lost time over the final kilometers to end up 5th just +4.3 seconds off the podium.
With close to one metre of snowfall over the previous 36 hours and above freezing temperatures during the competition, skis were a major factor. Many of the athletes chose to race on "wax less" or "rub" skis, including those on the podium.
Marit Bjørgen NOR
I am very happy with my result today. I was not so strong at Norwegian championships so I was not sure of my shape. It gives me good confidence for Sochi. The competition will be tough, but I hope to win at least one individual gold medal. My plan is to compete in all 6 events.
Therese Johaug NOR
Marit was very strong today, but I am happy with my result. This course has a lot of double polling so I didn't know how well I could do. So second place is good for me here. It was difficult conditions and I chose to race on my "rub" skis. I only have one pair so I was lucky that they were enough.
Charlotte Kalla SWE
It's very nice to be back on the World Cup. I had some good racing at home in Sweden but being on World Cup allows me to push even harder. Therese and Marit were very strong, and I am happy with third place. It has been a good season so far for me and my shape is high heading into Sochi.
Ladies 10 km classic
1. BJOERGEN Marit 1980 NOR 26:54.2
2. JOHAUG Therese 1988 NOR 27:30.9 +36.7
3. KALLA Charlotte 1987 SWE 27:37.1 +42.9
4. WENG Heidi 1991 NOR 27:39.0 +44.8
5. KOWALCZYK Justyna 1983 POL 27:41.4 +47.2
Complete results are available HERE.
OVERALL WORLD CUP STANDINGS
1. Therese Johaug NOR 1082 pts
2. Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen NOR 877pts
3. Marit Bjoergen NOR 776pts
OVERALL WORLD CUP DISTANCE STANDINGS
1. Therese Johaug NOR 512 pts
2. Marit Bjoergn NOR 399 pts
3. Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen NOR 393 pts
New wet snow conditions; air +0.6c and snow +-2.2c
Please note that high quality action and podium pictures from today’s competitions are available for purchase through the Internet portal offered by Nordic Focus, FIS Partner for photos from the Nordic Disciplines, at www.nordicfocus.com