Women’s Cross-Country skiing World Cup culminated with a 4×5 km relay competition. This was the first time this season that athletes skied in a relay, so today’s race was a good indication of nation’s ranking before the World Ski Championships in Oberstdorf next month.

Norway continued its strong race weekend and won third time in Lahti Ski Games. Norway’s team members were Tiril Udnes Weng, Therese Johaug, Helene Marie Fossesholm and Heidi Weng. Sweden secured second place and Finland took third. Russia I and United States were also in top 5.

Norway’s winning time was 49:34.4. Sweden’s difference to Norway was +42.9 second and Finland where +59.5 from winners.

After the first leg in classic Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla and Finland’s Johanna Matintalo were leading the pack to the stadium area. In the final turn, Matintalo took lead and sent Kerttu Niskanen to second leg. Norway’s skier in the second leg was Therese Johaug. United States’ Jessie Diggins managed stay with the leaders in the second leg and after 10 km Norway, Finland and United States were the top three teams.

In the third leg of yesterday’s skiathlon the second best skier, Norway’s 19-year-old Helene Marie Fossesholm started to make a gap to Finland’s Laura Mononen and extended the gap to almost a minute giving Heidi Weng an easy job as anchor. Fossesholm was smiling with her performance today.

– It was amazing, very happy to take my first win in the World Cup relay. Rest of the team was very good.

Fosseshom opened also her race tactic.

It’s not a sprint or long race so you need to go hard but not too hard. The track has deep uphills and technical downhills, so you need to think tactical.

Finland’s Krista Pärmäkoski and Sweden’s Ebba Anderson had a good fight for second place in the last leg. The decision was seen at 17 km mark, when Anderson turned up the jets making a big difference and securing silver to Sweden.

Kerttu Niskanen and Krista Pärmäkoski were happy with team performance.

– Relay team positions are not secured, so it was nice to be part of the team, Niskanen said.

Pärmäkoski was a little bit annoyed, that she couldn’t stay with Ebba Anderson, but praised team spirit.

– Everybody is waiting relay motivated and are happy with today’s relay.

See full result of womens relay: http://live.fis-ski.com/cc-2011/results-pda.htm

Photo: Janina Pitkänen