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Historic moment for the Russian Women's Relay team
NordicFocus

The one and only Relay of this World Cup season that was scheduled before the Olympic Winter Games was the place to be for the 16 entered female Relay teams. Indeed, the competition proved to be of highest standards: the Norwegian record of winning every Women’s Relay since 10 years was broken by the Russian athletes Yulia Stupak, Natalia Nepryaeva, Tatiana Sorina and Veronika Stepanova. The new generation from the Russian Women’s Team actively paced throughout the race.

Leg one was dictated by the German Distance expert Katharina Hennig, who ensured her team a great start and passed on to Laura Gimmler after two laps. The Swedish Team had Frida Karlsson in charge who took the lead and had to defend her position against Heidi Weng from Team Norway I and Natalia Nepryaeva who had taken over from first runner Yulia Stupak for Team Russia I.

A 20 second margin separated the Teams from Norway, Sweden and Russia as they passed on for the third leg. Ebba Andersson (SWE) faced Therese Johaug (NOR) and Tatiana Sorina (RUS) and the three athletes did not give each other a break at any time.

Therese took over as the pacemaker but could not get Andersson and Sorina off her heels.

Passing the stadium into her second lap, Jessie Diggins was warmed up and charged into fourth position. Despite her attempts to move closer to the leaders, she had to give in as the speed in the front had sped up as well.

Tatiana Sorina took over the lead as the trio headed back into the stadium. Past Johaug, Sorina flew uphill and into the long loop in the stadium where the last runner of the Russian team awaited. With 20 year-young Veronika Stepanova (RUS), 24 year-young Helene Marie Fossesholm (NOR) and 20 year-young Moa Olsson (SWE) the young anchor team set out for their 2x 2.5km laps.

26 seconds behind the trio, Julia Kern took over from Jessie Diggins for Team USA, closely followed by the teams Norway II, Germany I and Finland I.  At this point, it was again the German team - with Victoria Carl in charge this time – who managed to close the gap to the leaders to only just 6 seconds after the first lap.

The grand finals awaited in the final lap, when the trio Stepanova, Fossesholm and Olsson put in another gear and performed what the next generation of Cross-Country skiers are all about. All three skiers charged all in until the finish. Veronika Stepanova crossed the finish line as the first skier in her first ever Team event in the World Cup, ensuring Russia the first victory in a Women’s Relay after 17 years!

Moa Olsson and Helene Marie Fossesholm crossed the finish line only 0.1 seconds apart.

Click here for the full result list.

"We are so proud of what we have achieved today. We had our secret weapon Veronika as the last skier and we all did everything right. It's so great to be a part of such a great team." Yulia Stupak
 
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