January 28, 2011 (Otepaa, Estonia) – Germany’s Lucia Anger claimed the Junior Women’s classic 1.2km sprint title as the two leading skiers Elena Soboleva (RUS) and Germany’s Hanna Kolb crashed over the final hill in the final leaving the door open for Anger. Norway grabbed the remaining spots with Kari Oeyre Slind taking the silver medal, while her teammate Ragnhild Haga won the bronze.
Canada’s Janelle Greer and Heidi Widmer both qualified but did not advance past the quarter finals and finished 21st and 28th respectively. American Heather Mooney (USA) missed qualifying by 0.29s, placing 31st, followed by Amy Glen (USA) in 42nd, Heather Mehain (CAN) in 45th, Izzy Caldwell (USA) in 57th, Kinsey Loan (USA) in 58th and Canada’s Annika Hicks who placed 61st.
“It was a disappointing day for me today,” said Widmer. “I was hoping to improve on last year’s 15th place qualification and 22nd overall sprint results but I just didn’t have access to those top gears today. In my qualifier, I skied the first half with decent speed, but during a transition on one of the small climbs, I wasn’t aggressive enough with my kick which cost me.”
“I quickly put the mediocre qualifier behind me and set my sights on the afternoon heats. I lost contact with the group on the second climb and made up some time on the descent thanks to some fast skis finishing 28th. Today taught me a lot and reminded me that I still have a long journey ahead and I’m excited to see what the future has in store,” added Widmer.
Kolb, the fastest qualifier, was the favourite and she and Soboleva advanced to the final winning their quarters and semis. The dramatics for the women’s Junior World title unfolded during the final match up as Soboleva was leading with Kolb right behind and Anger in tow as the others trailed.
Over the final uphill Kolb tumbled and took out Soboleva. That’s when Anger, reacting to what happened made her move and burned it to the finish line to take the win. The Norwegian Slind also came up from behind and finished 0.3 seconds back. Haga, the winner of the opening junior 5km free race, was third.
Anger basked in the spotlight saying, “I had hoped to win a medal in a competition here, but the sprint gold is a surprise for me. My tactics were to go as fast as I could. I saw what happened when the crash took place. I looked that I could pass them from the left and it was very close for me as well.”
Slind was happy with her finish. “The crash is part of the game, but I feel lucky. I passed them and did not get involved in the accident….you just have to be a little lucky to get there.”