Head wind, a fast track and a long sprint course challenged today's competitors along the city sprint in Dresden. The course alongside the Elbe river needed to be tackled by some tactical skiing. On the ladies side, the Swedes took over the podium and proved once again to have their team in a great shape. The spectacular heats on the mens side were decided by a eventful final heat.
Once again, Stina Nilsson smiles from the top of the podium. The strong Swede prepared well for the individual sprint in Dresden: „I think it’s really important for me to go home and do some training in between the races to maintain the good shape I am in so far". In all the heats from the quarter final, she pushed the leading positions from the back and moved into the leading position during the wavey stretch in the second lap.
The track of Dresden was with 840m (resp. 805m in the second lap) longer than at its premiere one year ago and thus demanded enduring performances by the athletes. One athlete in particular enjoyed the tough conditions, ending up on the same position as in the previous year: Maja Dahlqvist ends up on the second rank +0.24 seconds behind Nilsson. Almost beaten by the strong Nadine Fähndrich from Switzerland, the 3rd placed Jonna Sundling had to fight hard on the final stretch. On a photo finish, Jonna won by +0.02 seconds and ends up on the podium besides her fellow team mates.
„I didnt think much because it happened all so fast. When I was after the finish line they said that we are all on the podium and I could not believe it."
Some real tactical skiing was demanded during the mens heats. Due to a Jury decision because of an obstruction when overtaking, the leader after the qualification and favourite Federico Pellegrino from Italy was ranked as last in the quarter finals.
Gleb Retivykh (RUS) took the lead in the final heat and set the pace, followed by his fellow Norwegian (Skar, Valnes) and French (Jouve, Chanavat, Gros) competitors. 400m after the start, Baptiste Gros and Richard Jouve fell in the big turn and Erik Valnes was lucky to sweep around and follow the leaders. Meanwhile, Lucas Chanavat was on course for the 3rd spot. Valnes filled up the gap as the group lapped into the second half.
With 40km/h Skar took up some speed, taking over the lead and pushing over the finish line in the top position. Gleb Retivykh finished 2nd, +0.11 seconds behind. Erik Valnes crossed the finish line in 3rd position due to unlucky circumstances of Lucas Chanavat who entered the stadium with a broken pole.
„Its pretty fast but also pretty hard because there is not downhill so you do not get to rest. To do over 3 minutes flat is much harder. But because of the head wind when going up (to the curve) it was going a bit more easy. Because of the wind everyone had to save their legs for the last lap.“
Sindre Bjørnestad Skar