The 13th edition of the Tour de Ski started off by the Sprint in Free technique at Toblach, ITA.
Stina Nilsson from Sweden continues her wave of success and wins the first race of the legendary Tour de Ski. On the men's side, Johannes Høsflot Klæbo starts his first participation of the Tour de Ski on top of the podium as well.
On both, the ladies and men's heats, the fight for a spot in the final heat was a tough one. The 1.3 km track at the Nordic Arena in Toblach led to several photo finishes, tight decisions and a fight for important rankings to start off the Tour de Ski in a good position.
"I said before that I will only do the first 4 races, we will see but I think I will stick to that plan. "
As proven in the first stage of the FIS Cross-Country World Cup, a strong Swedish team led by Stina Nilsson decided important heats to their favor. Ida Ingemarsdotter ended up on the second rank after a photo finish with US athlete Jessica Diggins, 0.07 seconds apart. Yulia Belorukova confirmed her top form and ended up on a great 4th place. The third Swedish spot in the Top-5 was taken by Linn Soemskar.
The day before, Jessica Diggins stated at the opening press conference that the Tour mostly is about to have fun for her and her team mates and to get ready before the World Ski Championships in Seefeld in February. That the strong US team enjoyed the good conditions at Toblach was proven by great performances also by Sadie Bjornsen (first after qualification and 6th after the finals) and Sophie Caldwell who also reached the semi-finals.
Johannes Høsflot Klæbo made sure to split up his strenght during the heats, but still finding enough power to push over the finish line, 0.34 seconds before the French duo Jouve and Chanavat.
The french sprint specialists fought for their rankings by a photo finish, ending up 0.05 seconds apart.
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"It was a really cool to cross the finish line first. Today was really hard, the quarter and semi final was really tough. I was 5th in the last downhill at the semi final and really close to be thrown out"
Johannes Hoøsflot Klæbo