COC: Pittin/Runggaldier win Team Sprint in Rovaniemi
Team Italy won the Team Sprint competition of the COC final weekend in Rovaniemi. In a big final with 23 teams from 15 nations, Lukas Runggaldier and Alessandro Pittin had the best end for themselves and crossed the finish line 4,3 seconds earlier than Team Germany I (Firn/Dünkel). Their teammates Jakob Lange and Andreas Günter from Team Germany II finished third, 7,2 seconds behind.
After the ski jumping part, the team from Estonia consisting of Karl-August Tirmaa and Kristjan Ilves had been in the lead with a total of 239 points. The two known jumping experts showed great performances of 94,5 and 92 metres. For the cross-country race, this meant a head start of 20 seconds before the Team Finland II (Mäkiaho/Heikkinen) who achieved 229 points (92,5 and 90 m). Team Italy had to make up 21 seconds on the leaders from Estonia after they amassed 228,5 points with two good jumps of 90 metres from Runggaldier and 92 metres from Pittin. The teams from Germany were ranking ninth (Germany I, +0:36) and 15th (Germany II, +0:59).
In the cross-country race, Team Germany II started a big fight to catch up with the leaders and by achieving the best cross-country time of 33:47.0 for the 7,5 kilometres, Dünkel and Firn made up a total of 13 places to the second rank. In the end, they were not strong enough to catch up with the Italians, although Alessandro Pittin did not look to strong on the last lap but secured the win in the end.
Asked if losing out to the other German team for the second place was clouding this success, Jakob Lange said: "It doesn't matter. Both teams are equal!". Teammate Michael Dünkel from Team Germany I agreed: "Today's race was hard and cold. But the track was good any my teammates were very good as well." Winner Lukas Runggaldier was happy with his end of the season: "This was a really difficult season for me. I was sick, but then I decided to come here on Monday. Now this really paid off!"