March 17, 2017 (Quebec City, Que.) – The USA’s Jessie Diggins led the North American women with a strong 9th but the day belonged to Sweden’s Stina Nilsson who triumphed over Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla in the women’s 1.5km skate Sprint with fellow Swede, Hanna Falk in third. Falla was all smiles just the same as she captured the over series globe with Nilsson second and Falk third.
While the Scandinavians ruled in Quebec City the depth of the American women’s team was apparent with five skiers qualifying to the heats under a cloudless sky as the began with promise. Unfortunately no Canadians qualified with Falk proving her mettle early earning the fastest time. Falla was second followed by Norway’s great Marit Bjoergen in third.
Diggins powered to a strong second place behind Falla in her quarter final while her promising teammate Kern lined up in the same heat and finished fifth but gained a ton of experience in the process.
“The course is great,” said Kern. “But I made a tactical error. It’s my first time in a big stage race, so I decided to go out hard and took the outside line and went from second to sixth and lost the pack. Still it’s a really good start to the weekend and I was not expecting this. I’m just going to go out and have fun and lay down some fun, hard races here. It’s a good way to head into summer. We’ve got one more week of racing in Alaska.”
Heat two saw Bjornsen just miss second place by 0.04 seconds as her teammate Brennan place sixth. Caldwell skied in the fourth quarter-final heat and was near the front coming to the finish in a hotly contested pack when Sweden’s Anna Dyvik stepped on her ski and she fell in the final 300 meters. Dyvik was yellow carded and relegated to last but Caldwell’s day was done.
Diggins, fresh off two podiums at the World Championships, had a semi that included Nilsson, Falla and Falk – the top three sprinters of the day – and ended up fifth to finish 9th overall. The second semi saw Weng dominate with Sweden’s Ida Ingemarsdotter at 0.93 behind. Bjoergen was third for seventh overall
The wind of the Plains of Abraham had picked up considerably for the final that was 50% Swedish as Nilsson was not to be denied and Norway’s Falla settled for second at 0.42 seconds back with Falk third. Norway’s Heidi Weng, fell in the fast-paced final and finished sixth, but had a great season overall to win her first ever Overall World Cup crystal globe.
“Quebec has been very good to me,” said Nilsson who won this race here last year. “I like the course and the crowd. The skis were excellent, everything was perfect, and we saw history being made. It’s great for everyone here that Alex won today. Even the weather is amazing. I look forward to the rest of the weekend.”
American Ida Sargeant missed the top 30 by one second, placing 36th while Canada’s top skier was Dahria Beatty in 41st. Emily Nishikawa followed in 45th with teammate Cedrine Browne in 47th. American Erika Flowers placed 48th and Kaitlynn Miller was 50th.
It was Falla’s second consecutive overall World Cup sprint crystal globe as Nilsson finished second overall followed by her teammate Falk.