Tove Alexandersson, Sweden began her new World Cup season in emphatic style with a win by more than 1½ minutes in the Middle race in Finland today. Her compatriot Gustav Bergman was a clear winner in the men’s race.
Alexandersson lost 10-15 seconds around control 9 of the 17-control course, but otherwise ran the course without error and was fastest throughout. Second was the Russian Natalia Gemperle, and third local favourite Marika Teini, 2 minutes down.
Tove Alexandersson on her way to victory
In hot and sunny conditions, many mistakes were made out on the course. One of the most notable was by the young Swiss athlete Simona Aebersold, new to the senior ranks, who got off line and too low on the penultimate downhill leg, after being second fastest to Alexandersson throughout the course up to that point. She then doubled back in the finish field, wrongly believing she had over-run the last control, and these added lost seconds left her in 9th place, 3.50 down.
In the men’s race, Bergman was also fastest at the intermediate points, whereas second-placed Frederic Tranchand, France came up from being 4th after 2.1 km. Third and fourth places went to the Norwegians Olav Lundanes and Magne Dæhli. Bergman’s winning margin was 1.03, and there was a further 28 seconds down to third place.
Defending World Cup champion Matthias Kyburz, Switzerland made a significant early error and was 44th after 2.1 km; he ran well after that and finished 11th, 2.57 down on the winner.
Tomorrow is Long distance with chase start, start times based on today’s results. The leading athletes today have bonus seconds deducted from their time in determining tomorrow’s start times. In Alexandersson’s case this is 120 seconds compared to Natalia Gemperle’s 90, so Alexandersson will start into the forest with a lead of over 2 minutes.
Leading results, Middle distance
- Tove Alexandersson SWE 29:54
- Natalia Gemperle RUS 31:32
- Marika Teini FIN 31:53
- Karolin Ohlsson SWE 32:03
- Kamilla Olaussen NOR 32:29
- Venla Harju FIN 32:30
- Gustav Bergman SWE 30:20
- Frederic Tranchand FRA 31:23
- Olav Lundanes NOR 31.51
- Magne Dæhli NOR 31:56
- Martin Regborn SWE 32:10
- Daniel Hubmann SUI 32:25