(Lahti, Finland) - Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway and Federico Pellegrino of Italy are World Champions in the free technique sprints in Lahti Finland. Falla led the way ahead of a pair of American's Jessie Diggins in silver +1.66 and Kikkan Randall the bronze +3.76. For Falla the 2014 Olympic Sprint Champion it was her first individual World Championship gold medal. She previously won a gold medal in Falun 2015 in the team sprint with Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg. For Diggins it was her third World Championships medal and her second silver. She took second place in the 10 km free technique interval start in 2015, and was World Champion in the team sprint with Randall in 2013. Randall completed her World Championship collection with bronze today, after taking sprint silver in 2009 in Liberec, and the silver with Diggins in Val di Fiemme. Pre race favourites Stina Nilsson of Sweden and Natalia Matveeva of Russia went down in a crash on the final curve in their semi-final. The contact earned Nilsson a yellow card and she was Ranked as Last in her heat.
Italy's Pellegrino has always been known for his finish and today he came from second place off the final curve to take the gold and become the World Sprint Champion just won year removed from winning the overall FIS sprint title. In the silver medal position was Russia's Sergey Ustiugov just +0.15 behind and in the bronze medal the rising start of the Norwegian team Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo +0.44 back. It's a first time individual medal for Pellegrino who took the bronze in the team sprint in Falun 2015. This was as well a first individual World Championships medal for Ustiugov who previous had a bronze medal in the 4 x 10 km relay in Val di Fiemme 2013. He has many World Junior and U23 Championship wins. For Klaebo it was his first ever World Championships and the bronze medal follows just 4 days after he recorded his first ever World Cup victory in Otepää, Estonia.
Competitions continue Saturday with the ladies' and men's Skiathlon events.
Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR)
Last days I have been really inside myself. I was really nervous before today’s race. I am really satisfied with the way I skied today. In my quarterfinal I used a lot of power to pass the other girls. In the semifinal and final I was in the front almost all the time, which is my favourite tactic.
Jessie Diggins (USA)
I woke up feeling good today and why not. This could be my day. But I have been targeting other competitions here so it's nice to start off this way.
Kikkan Randall (USA)
I was not so optimistic after a few World Cups that today was possible. I had a slow start to the season and I needed to be patient. It's a magical day for our team today to have two of us on the podium and 3 in the final.
Federico Pellegrino (ITA)
It was not so easy to best way to train this season. I knew that only 1 good race will be enough. But I also knew I could not do the same as in the past. I tried to change my training. At the beginning of the season I was season, my rhythm changed and I had to work hard to find it again. I came to Lahti really relaxed. I knew if everybody on the team including me do the best I can win. I had great skis and really good legs and that is was why I won.
Sergey Ustiugov (RUS)
I am really disappointed. I do not like the result. I lost in the finish to Federico. Today I felt better in every heat. In the quarterfinal and semifinal I had to fight for my position and to keep my speed. I wanted to be smarter in the final.
Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo (NOR)
Getting a bronze medal here means a lot for me. I would like to stand on top of the podium, but I must say I am very happy with third place.
LADIES - 1.4 km sprint
1. FALLA Maiken Caspersen NOR 3:02.34
2. DIGGINS Jessica USA +1.66
3. RANDALL Kikkan USA +3.76
4. FALK Hanna SWE +3.91
5. INGEMARSDOTTER Ida SWE +4.42(5)
6. CALDWELL Sophie USA +5.37
MEN - 1.6 km sprint
1. PELLEGRINO Federico ITA 3:13.76
2. USTIUGOV Sergey RUS +0.15
3. KLAEBO Johannes Hoesflot NOR +0.44
4. KROGH Finn Haagen NOR +0.67
5. NORTHUG Petter Jr. NOR +12.13
6. HAKOLA Ristomatti FIN +12.28