Moscow cross-country skiing event defines new WC leaders
Despite a great course being put in place near Luzhniki stadium in central Moscow, the event was missing several top skiers. Marit Bjørgen, Dario Cologna and Petter Northug all decided to skip the race due to the extremely cold weather.
Consequently, Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk had a chance to leapfrog Bjorgen in the overall World Cup standings. The 29-year old skier started the finals slowly, controlling the competition from behind. But she then boosted her pace with a few hundred meters to go, took the lead, and didn't look back, to claim her maiden free technique city sprint triumph.
Russians Natalia Korosteleva and Anastasia Dotsenko finished second and third respectively.
With this win, Kowalczyk took the overall World Cup lead.
In the men's competition, it seemed the Russians would take advantage of their solid squad, home snow and cold weather.
However, only Nikolay Morilov and Gleb Retivykh powered up to the final, while sprint leader Aleksey Petukhov was eliminated in the quarter final to stay in 14th spot.
The Russians were setting the pace at the start of the final but it was Teodor Peterson who set the quickest lap. The 24-year old Swede cruised past his opponents to his first World Cup victory. Norway's Anders Glorsen was second and Devon Kershow of Canada came in third.
Peterson is now 37 points ahead of Petukhov, topping the overall sprint World Cup.
Despite the harsh weather, local fans will no doubt be hoping the event remains a fixture on the cross country calendar.