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Cross-Country: Marit Bjoergen and Petter Northug repeat Ruka Triple victories
Already for the third time, Kuusamo hosted the first stage-competition of the new FIS Cross-Country World Cup season, Ruka Triple. The three-day mini-tour kicked off on 30th November with classical sprints, continued the following day with short individual start competitions in free technique and concluded on 2nd December with a pursuit competition in classical technique.
Marit Bjoergen carried the winning momentum from the first FIS Cross-Country World Cup of the season in Gällivare and entered the Ruka Triple with a classic sprint victory. Stage one on the men's side was dominated by sprint Olympic champion from Vancouver, Nikita Kriukov of Russia, who grabbed victory ahead of Petter Northug (NOR) as he outsprinted the Norwegian on the finishing straight. Marit Bjoergen remained unbeatable also in the free technique individual start on 1st December. With her win, Bjoergen gained a comfortable lead of 52 seconds in the pursuit competition. Kikkan Randall (USA) again made a career record as she improved her distance personal best to 2nd place.
Despite the frigid temperatures that saw many athletes cross the finish line with signs of frostbite, Russia's Alexander Legkov held on to win the second stage over 10km free technique. After a slow start Norway's Petter Northug went from fifth to second place. Before the final stage of Ruka Triple, Northug had a 40 second advantage on Alexey Poltoranin of Kazakhstan.
Superior Marit Bjoergen did not leave any doubt who would win the Ruka Triple 2012. The Norwegian sensation cruised to her third win at Ruka in the fastest time of the day, despite skiing in front alone in heavy snowfall. Poland's Justyna Kowalcyzk made her move in the final kilometres of the classic technique stage 3, to get up to second place after starting 4th. Norwegian rising star Heidi Weng finished third.
The men's competition offered some drama until the very last meters. Norway's Petter Northug lost his 40 second advantage as the chasing group led by Alexey Poltoranin, Maxim Vylegzhanin and Dario Cologna caught him in the last 2.5 km lap. Northug gave all he had to win the final stage of Ruka Triple and the whole mini-tour by just 1.4 seconds ahead of Vylegzhanin of Russia. Third place went to Poltoranin (KAZ).
After the Scandinavian tour, Marit Bjoergen has solidified her overall FIS World Cup lead ahead of Therese Johaug and Justyna Kowalczyk. Petter Northug Jr. took over the yellow bib from Alexey Poltoranin after the Ruka Triple. Maxim Vylegzhanin (RUS) has settled for now in third place.
The FIS Cross-Country World Cup will move on to North America with its next competition to be held in Quebec (CAN) on 7th December.
To stay tuned, visit www.fiscrosscountry.com