The classic track at the Audi Arena in Oberstdorf got snowed in just before the start of the ladies 10 km mass start race in Classic style. It proved to become another successful day for the Norwegian team - for the ladies, as well as for the men.Right from the start, 28-year-old Norwegian Ingvild Flugstad Østberg took the lead and fought hard to keep the position. Finnish Krista Pärmäkoski started up along with Østberg into the race but was overtaken by the Russian duo Nepryaeva and Sedova who managed to create a gap between them and the chasing field.
In the last lap, the Russians caught up and powered up for a sprint towards the finish line. In the end, Østberg won by only 0.1 seconds ahead of Natalia Nepryaeva and Anastasia Sedova. Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (NOR) raced to the 4th, Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN) to the 5th place.
"It was as usual here in Oberstdorf, it was chaos from the start to the finish line - but I like that."
6 loops of each 2.5 km was made even tougher by the heavy snowfall. The field of athletes remained in one group, alternating the lead and thus grooming through the "crazy" track of Oberstdorf. Norwegian Emil Iversen finished the race after 45:30.3 minutes, only +0.9 seconds before the Italian Francesco de Fabiani. Russian Sergey Ustiugov won the fight for the last spot on the podium with Sjur Røthe (NOR) by only +0.1 seconds!
On the Overall Tour de Ski ranking, Johannes Høsflot Klæbo remains the leader of the tour, followed by Ustiugov (+15.4 seconds) and Iversen (+31.0 seconds). Iversen decided to end the Tour de Ski after today's race. Next up is the 5th stage and the 10/15km C Pursuit race on 3rd January 2019 at the Nordic Arena in Oberstdorf!
"Today I wanted to be 2nd on the top of the last downhill and to try to win. But I think 2nd is a really good result."
Francesco de Fabiani
PREVIEW Thursday 3 Jan 2019
Ladies 10KM PURSUIT FREESTYLE
- The winner of the first pursuit stage managed to reach the overall Tour de Ski podium on all previous 12 occasions. Eight of the 12 winners even went on to claim the overall title.
- Oberstdorf will host a Tour de Ski pursuit for the third time. On 4 January 2015, Bjørgen won the 10km pursuit in the classic style and Stina Nilsson won the 10km pursuit in the free on 4 January 2017. Nilsson went on to finish in third place overall.
- Athletes from Norway have won 11 of the last 12 Tour de Ski pursuit stages, with the only exception in that run Nilsson's victory in the 10km pursuit in Oberstdorf on 4 January 2017.
- Ingvild Flugstad Østberg and Heidi Weng have both won two Tour de Ski pursuits. They can now both join Bjørgen (3) in third place all-time. Only Therese Johaug (7) and Justyna Kowalczyk (6) claimed more pursuit victories in the competition.
- Weng has recorded 10 podium finishes in Tour de Ski pursuit stages, only trailing Johaug (15). Kowalczyk also claimed 10 top-three finishes.
- Jessica Diggins is hoping to become the first non-European winner of a Tour de Ski pursuit race. The American finished in third place in both pursuit stages of last edition.
Men 15KM PURSUIT FREESTYLE
- Since 2013/14, the winner of the first pursuit stage also managed to win the overall Tour de Ski title: Martin Johnsrud Sundby in 2013/14, Petter Northug in 2014/15, Sundby in 2015/16, Sergey Ustiugov in 2016/17 and Dario Cologna in 2017/18. All were also leading the overall standings after their pursuit stage win.
- Cologna has won five pursuits in the Tour de Ski, the joint-most all-time among men along with Northug (classic and free). Lukáš Bauer (2) and Sundby (4) are the only other athletes with multiple pursuit wins in the competition.
- Cologna, Sundby and Northug are all on a record five pursuit victories in one of the Tours (3-Days Tour, Tour de Ski, World Cup Final, Ski Tour Canada). Maurice Manificat follows with four Tour pursuit wins.
- Sundby has won three of the last six pursuits in the Tour de Ski, including last season's final stage in Val di Fiemme. Sundby (34) can become the oldest winner ever of a Tour de Ski pursuit stage. Bauer currently holds that record, as he won the 9km pursuit (free) in Val di Fiemme on 9 January 2011 when he was 33 years and 144 days old.
- Sundby finished in 52nd place in the last Tour pursuit, a 15km pursuit stage in the classic style in this season's 3-Days Tour in Lillehammer. It was Sundby's lowest rank ever in a Tour pursuit (excl. disqualifications).
- Oberstdorf will host a Tour de Ski pursuit for the third time. On 4 January 2015, Northug won the 15km pursuit in the classic style and Ustiugov won the 15km pursuit in the free on 4 January 2017. Both athletes went on to claim the overall Tour de Ski title that season.