January 24, 2013 (Liberec, Czech Republic) – On Day 4 of the 2013 U23/Junior Nordic World Ski Championships, Ragnhild Haga took home the first gold medal for the ambitious Norwegian team winning the women’s 10km FR race. The men’s 15km FR competition was clearly dominated by the Russians as they won gold and silver.
Team USA’s Caitlin Patterson and Erik Bjornsen led the North Americans, placing 14th and 15th in the women’s and men’s competitions, respectively.
Kazakhstan also celebrated their first medal of the championships winning silver in the women’s 10km thanks to Anastasia Slonova, while the bronze medal went to Italy, courtesy of Debora Agreiter.
USA’s Sophie Caldwell finished 17th in the women’s race, with teammates Annie Pokorny and Elizabeth Guiney in 29th and 42nd, respectively. Heidi Widmer posted the top Canadian women’s result in 28th place, while Annika Hicks finished 37th, Andrea Lee placed 40th, and Marlis Kromm took 43rd.
Bjornsen’s men’s teammate Sam Tarling finished 39th in the 15km event, followed by David Norris in 50th and Eric Packer in 54th. Top Canadian man was Colin Abbott in 63rd. Patrick Stewart-Jones (CAN) finished 71st.
Women’s 10km Individual Free – Haga Scores First Gold for Norway
Fifty one women set off on the demanding course in Vesec on Thursday morning. The conditions were worsened by thickly falling snow and hard frost. Nevertheless, only two skiers failed to reach the finish.
“I am really satisfied. Today, it was a real exhausting race; I could not afford to relax. Two years ago, I triumphed at the junior world championship so I am happy that I managed to pick up on this success,” said winner Ragnhild Haga.
Haga literally flew through the course and left second-placed Slonova half a minute behind. She was especially strong in the second half of the race. It was the young Kazakh, however, who performed admirably after the unsuccessful first third of the race when she overtook seven competitors and got a well-deserved silver.
Anastasia Slonova: “I feel good after the race. I am really pleased with the result. We watched the weather carefully, so we were able to prepare the skis very well. It is a great achievement for us, indeed. We picked up on the successful performances during the World Cup competition which took place in Liberec few days ago.”
Debora Agreiter: “I do not know what I lacked for being the second placed. I guess I did not have enough strength at the end; after all, it was a difficult race. But I am still excited about the third place.”
Men’s 15km Individual Free – Russian Dominance
The strong Russians again confirmed their role as favourites of the cross-country competitions. The 15km freestyle was won by Sergey Ustiugov ahead of Evgeniy Belov. The bronze medal goes to Germany thanks to Thomas Bing.
Just before noon on Thursday, 84 competitors set off on an extremely demanding course in Vesec. Conditions were really difficult, as the skiers were slowed down by freshly fallen snow.
Ustiugov dominated the whole race and was the fastest at all split times. In the end he triumphed with a lead of nineteen seconds. The twenty-year-old Russian followed his great performance of last year at the WC in Turkey, where he won four gold medals. His countryman Belov won his second medal at these championships. On Tuesday, it was silver in the sprint.
“It is fantastic! I feel really wonderful. I achieved my goal: I was in first position for the whole race. I feel really happy,” rejoiced the confident winner Sergey Ustiugov from Russia after the finish.
Evgeniy Belov: “I am really satisfied with the result of the race. Today´s race was just a training for the next month – I will started at the FIS Nordic World Ski in Val di Fiemme in Italy, so I did not expect medal. That pleased me more.“
Thomas Bing: “I am incredibly happy. Today, it was a really tough race. I did not want to overvalue the start; I saved my energy for the end. And it was worth it: as time went on, I worked my way to the fourth place – thanks to the cooperation with Clementini from Italy, as well. And then, I got enough strength in the finish.”
Women’s 10km Free results HERE.
Men’s 15km Free results HERE.
Complete results are available at www.liberec2013.cz.