Justyna Kowalczyk from Poland and Norway’s Petter Northug claimed victory today (Dec. 29) in the first stages of the 2012 Tour de Ski, a 11-day, nine-stage cross country ski racing event in Germany and Italy.
Kowalczyk won the opening the first stage over 3.1 km free technique in seven minutes, .03.9 seconds. Norway’s Marit Bjoergen came to the line only four-tenths of a second behind the leader in second. Swede Hanna Brodin, who took the third place, finished four seconds off the pace.
“It was a good race today, normally I don’t feel good in these kinds of fast conditions but yeah, I’m pretty satisfied,” said Kowalczyk. “My tactic was to not start too fast, as I normally have problems with the downhill and my legs were fresh, but I heard my downhill time was quite good and I think that’s the reason.”
American Kikkan Randall finished tenth, 7.2 seconds behind Kowalczyk
On the men’s side, Swiss Dario Cologna was second, 0.7 seconds behind Northug. Frenchman Maurice Manificat took third place four seconds behind. American Andy Newell was 29th.
“It was a good race, I had a good feeling and since I started at the last one, I was able to keep track of the times of the others and I think that helped me,” said Northug. “When I heard I was fighting for the victory it gave me more power. After a relaxed Christmas it’s always good to start racing again, my shape is great, and I look forward to continue with the Tour. The key is to be at the top throughout the entire Tour.”
Tomorrow the Tour will continue with the Pursuit 10 km classic for ladies and 15 km classic for men. — Nancy Merrill
Click here for complete results.
Image by Gepa