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Tears and cheers in Lahti as Parmakoski (FIN) ends six-year winless run

Mar 02, 2024·Cross-Country
Joy at last: an emotional Krista Parmakoski (FIN) comes to terms with winning again @ Nordic Focus

Krista Parmakoski used local knowledge to roll back the years in Lahti on Saturday, winning the 20km Classic Pursuit. It had been more than a year since the veteran Finnish skier had stood on a FIS Cross-Country Skiing World Cup podium, and almost five years since her last victory, but she timed her race to perfection to spark jubilant scenes among the weekend crowd in southern Finland.

The diminutive 33-year-old is racing in her 16th World Cup season and has claimed multiple medals at major events, going all the way back to the 2011 World Championships and the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games, but her five previous World Cup victories had come in clusters – two in 2016, then three in 2018. This one, though, was extra special.

“It’s so amazing,” Parmakoski said, her previous best results in 2023/24 having been seventh, ninth and 10th.

“I’ve had such a hard season, so many difficult days but this is an emotional day. I’m so happy that I’m back on the podium.”Krista Parmakoski (FIN)

With temperatures hovering around freezing, causing the snow to break up and become sugary, ski technicians would have been busy applying the stickier klister wax, pre-race, in an attempt to get the balance just right between grip and glide.

Factor in a difficult 5km course, with one brutal climb around the halfway mark and some tricky turns on the downhill sections, and it was hard to predict the outcome, particularly with the interval start format, as the 45 skiers went out 30 seconds apart.

The first big name through the gate, Parmakoski set the early pace, closely followed by fellow Finn, Kerttu Niskanen. But by the end of the first of four laps they were behind the in-form Jonna Sundling (SWE), winner of the last two 20km races Frida Karlsson (SWE), and Victoria Carl (GER), who seemed to be benefitting from sitting out Friday’s Team Sprint.

Jessie Diggins (USA), Linn Svahn (SWE) and Katharina Hennig (GER) were among the big names who were well off the pace, while Karlsson and Sundling also began to fade. This left a three-horse race between the two Finns and Carl.

“I think that for the first 10k I had to take it easy and for the second 10k I had to go ‘all in’,” Parmakoski said, and she began to open up a gap on compatriot Niskanen midway through the third lap.

Carl wasn’t going anywhere, however. Enjoying the season of her life, the German was still faster at the 18km mark but Parmakoski, who had been stronger on the climbs, found some extra pace during the final descent. “Of course, I heard from my coaches in maybe the last three kilometres that I’m fighting for first place, so then I found my fighting face again,” she said. [Up until that point] I could focus on my own race because I had such amazing skis and the downhill sections were good for me today.”

When Parmakoski crossed the line in 52 minutes and eight seconds and Niskanen came in just 9.9s slower, the crowd had genuine hopes of a Finland one-two. But Carl was always ahead of Niskanen and still in with a chance of catching Parmakoski as she made her way down into the stadium section.

It wasn’t to be, though, as she crossed the line 1.9s back to take silver. Cue pandemonium in the stands and tears of joy in the leader’s chair as Parmakoski celebrated a sixth World Cup win – one that she must have thought would never come.

What a beautiful story, what a champion! 🥹 6️⃣ years later, Krista Parmakoski🇫🇮 returns to victory 🥇 in the World Cup on her home soil in Lahti. She triumphs ahead of Carl 🇩🇪 and her compatriot Niskanen. What a day for Finland!🇫🇮 📸: NordicFocus #fiscrosscountry #worldcup
“It’s so nice to find a victory in front of my home crowd. They helped me a lot. It’s always special to compete in Finland and winning is even better.”Krista Parmakoski (FIN)

Carl, Svahn and Karlsson – who rallied to take sixth place – all gained ground on an out-of-sorts Diggins in the overall World Cup standings. But the Crystal Globe is still the American’s to lose with just six races – including Sunday’s Sprint Freestyle – to go.

Click here for the full results from Lahti

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