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Joensson Takes CL Sprint Gold in Lahti – USA’s Hamilton 11th


March 04, 2012 (Lahti, Finland) – Sweden’s Emil Joensson pipped his team mate Teodor Peterson in a photo finish in the men’s 1.4km CL Sprint for the win in a day that saw the famous Lahti final corner change the fate of many racers. Olympic champ Nikita Kriiukov (RUS), who finished third, was one of those racers as he opened the door for Joensson and Peterson taking the final corner wide while the Swedes edged him out on the inside.

Only three North Americans qualified for the heats lead by American Simi Hamilton in 13th. His team mate Andy Newell was 19th in the qualifications but fell victim to the Lahti corner in a crash that ended his day. Newell was skiing well until that point but things got congested as the skiers approached the final downhill turn to the finish and Newell went down with Kent Ove Clausen (NOR).

“The sprint course was in great condition icy and fast, which made for a tough Lahti corner for sure. My skis were ok in the qualification but I switched pairs for the heats and they were much better,” Newell told SkiTrax. “The final corner isn’t that hard to ski on a typical training day but during the race it get slid down by something like 200 skiers to a complete sheet of ice. I’m always in favor of technical courses but it wouldn’t take very much work to make the Lahti corner a little wider and bank it so there would be fewer problems.

“I felt great in the heats and was able to ski the hills well. In the Lahti corner the Norge in front of me really hit the brakes hard so I had no choice but to come on the inside and we crashed – that sucks. A 15th scores some points but not quite enough to keep me in the top 50 so I’ll need to have a good sprint in Drammen and hopefully finish of the season at WC finals in Falun.”

Canada’s Len Valjas who qualified 27th moved up to 19th as he saw his day end as well when he did not advance past his quarterfinal heat. “I am happy to get back into the top-30, but it didn’t go as well as I wanted today,” said Valjas in a team release. “It was really icy and tough, and I felt kind of flat today. I’m looking forward to getting to Drammen next week.”

Meanwhile Hamilton skied a smart 1/4 final with a spectacular lunge at the line to advance to the semis as a lucky loser. But the maturing sprinter could not find the gas to stay with the leaders in his semi and finished 11th overall.

We caught up with Hamilton for his take on the day of racing… and the famous Lahti corner.

“It was a good day… I’m psyched. I wish that I would have felt better in my semi-final, but it was a super quick turnaround from my quarter and I just ran out of gas. I felt really good in the qualifier and my quarter. The course was extremely technical, diverse, and exciting.

“This summer I focused a lot on that really quick stride that is good to have on steep climbs in sprints and I think that specific work really paid off. I was psyched about my skis for sure – our techs did a great job.

“I felt especially strong in my quarter. I saw a chance to take an inside line on a downhill corner about halfway through the race and because of that I got a good position going into the sketchy corner. Coming to the line, I saw that Robyn [Bryntesson] was fading a bit before the line, and knew that we had a fast heat, so I got a good lunge in through Simon’s [Persson] skis in front of me. Ha ha, I guess it was a fortunate move because I think those LL spots were tight.

“And the Lahti corner… yeah, that thing is ridiculous. It isn’t that bad in training, but after a lot of people slide around it on race day, it basically just becomes a giant sheet of ice starting about 25 feet before the actual corner. So you turn them sideways way earlier than you think you need to and end up just sliding right past the corner until you hit some snow that actually slows you down. It’s ridiculous, but it adds a great element of uncertainty and uniqueness to the race that you don’t get in many other places.

Qualifications HERE.
Full results HERE.

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