For the 15th time, the FIS Cross-Country World Cup family met up in the Estonian ski center of Otepää. The tough race course in classic style seemed to fit perfectly to the Norwegian team as all athletes qualified for the quarter finals.
The third individual sprint in classic style this season took place on the hilly course with tough climbs and fast descents. Nevertheless, during the heats the athletes managed to stay close by to profit from the pace making of the leaders. Keeping up however cost a lot of strength and the athletes needed to focus on the windy turns leading into the stadium.
In the first semi final, a spectacular photo finish qualified Maiken Caspersen Falla, Jonna Sundling and Stina Nilsson (as "lucky looser" into the final heat). When crossing the line, the current Sprint World Cup leader Nilsson fell, ended up with a small injury and due decided not to participate in the final heat. At 3:05.16 minutes Maiken Caspersen Falla decided the finals to her favour, +1.40 seconds before Natalia Nepryaeva (RUS) and Maja Dahlqvist (SWE) +5.78 seconds behind.
"He (Bolshunov) is really strong and he was pushing hard from the start but it's very cool to win here again and I have my grandpa who is living here so that's even better."
Johannes Høsflot Klæbo
Where it all began - two years after his first World Cup victory in Otepää, Johannes Høsflot Klæbo does it again and adds another World Cup win to his books.
The fight for the top of the podium was a tough one. Eye to eye with his fellow Russian competitor Alexander Bolshunov along his side, the two youngsters kept the pace high. Along in the final heat were Pål Goldberg, Eirik Brandsdal, the young talent Erik Vanes as well as Mattis Stenshagen - all from Norway.
Alexander Bolshunov encountered a fall in the semi finals in the final turn into the finish area but still managed to race a fast time, ending up as a "lucky looser". Thanks to his hard work - rather than luck - he managed to end up on the second rank, +1.51 seconds behind Klæbo who finished the 1.6km course in 3:20.05 minutes.
Pål Goldberg and Eirik Brandsdal had to fight until the last cm of the track and ended on a photo finish. Goldberg managed to climb onto the podium by 0.04 seconds before Brandsdal.