The snow was coming down and the snow conditions were great for this abbreviated individual start race. Today’s race was only 5km instead of the traditional 10km which meant for a frantic pace around the 5km loop.
Stephen (bib 8 ) of USA posted a very good time through 3.1km and had an impressive snappy turnover going through 3.1km. Stephen looked like she had put up a good time until Jacobsen (bib 17) came through and took 15 seconds out of the American which immediately looked to be a very competitive time for the race. At the finish, Jacobsen increased her lead by a further 12 seconds and skied the 5km course in 12:12 which looked to be a top 10 time for the day. In behind, Holly Brooks had a great run as she finished only 14 seconds behind the Norwegian.
As more athletes came through the 3.1km mark, Jacobsen’s race was looking more impressive as Steira, Weng, Roponen, Sarasoja-Lilja and Kristoffersen were all behind Jacobsen’s time. The advantage for those athletes were that their coaches were able to relay to them splits on Jacobsen and at the finish Sarasoj-Lilja did very well to closed the gap to 1.5 seconds, but didn’t topple the Norwegian.
The race began rather redundant for the next few dozen racers as they were close to Jacobsen’s time, but just came up short. It wasn’t until Kowalczyk (bib 78) went through 3.1km that the race really heated up. The Pole was able to oust Jacobsen from the best time as Kowalczyk was 5.5 seconds faster than the Norwegian. But it was Johaug (bib 82) who took a further 1.4 seconds out of Kowalczyk’s time.
At the finish, Kowalczyk got stuck behind Gaiazova and lost a couple seconds, but still did enough to take the lead from Jacobsen. Feeding off the splits, Johaug increased her pace and crossed the line with a lead of 7.6 seconds over Kowalczyk.
Back on course, Kalla was absolutely storming as she was four seconds faster than Johaug at 3.1km, but Bjørgen dropped that fast time by a further 4.3 seconds.
At the finish, Kalla’s lead on Johaug shrunk a bit, but still did enough to overtake the Norwegain and did just enough to hold of Skofterud as Skofterud momentarily sat in second place. Bjørgen came across the line with a 11 second lead ahead of the Swede.
1. Marit Bjørgen
2. Charlotte Kalla
3. Vibeke Skofterud
A great race for Jacobsen today, who started so early and was the leader at the finish line for much of the race and ultimately finished in 6th place. On the whole, it was another amazing day for Norway who had six of the top nine athletes.
It was another great day for the American women as Randall and Brooks finished 12th and 17th respectively.
Tomorrow is set up for a very exciting race in terms of the race for second place. Bjørgen has a 11 second lead on Kalla for tomorrow’s pursuit, but Kalla, Skofterud and Johaug will start only 2.3 seconds. apart. Kowalczyk will start 7.6 seconds behind that group and will be looking to make contact with them as that threesome will probably look to work together to try and keep Kowalczyk off the podium.