Cross-country skiing: Difficult final ascent – The Tour de Ski ends in a massive collapse – WELT

winter sports Difficult final ascent

The Tour de Ski ends in a massive collapse

TOPSHOT-SKI-NORDIC-ITA-WORLD-WOMEN-MASS START

After climbs of up to 28%, many riders were exhausted

Credit: AFP/MARCO BERTORELLO

During the Tour de Ski final, the riders go beyond their limits. One after another collapses at the finish line, the winner of the general classification must be treated for minutes. A German, on the other hand, celebrates a historic success.

Dhe missed the overall podium was quickly ticked off for Katharina Hennig. The 26-year-old Olympic champion dragged herself up the steep slope of Alpe Cermis with her last strength, then the best performance by a German cross-country skier in the history of the Tour de Ski was perfect. “It was a great finish, a great reminder: with a fifth place overall, which she saved at the finish line,” said team manager Peter Schlickenrieder.

On the final ascent with ramps of up to 28%, Hennig lost contact with the world leaders and only finished 19th in the daily final standings in Val di Fiemme. But the astonishing and well-deserved mass start victory on that wonderfully sunny Saturday still had an impact 24 hours later.

“You saw how she had to fight. It’s the best result German women have ever achieved here,” said Schlickenrieder, who, like Hennig, sounded satisfied and proud. Both had spoken of “an encore” before the traditional final with maximum difficulty. Overall victory went to Sweden’s Frida Karlsson, very exhausted at the finish line, ahead of Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen and Norway’s Tiril Udnes Weng.

Sweden's Frida Karlsson had to be treated by a team of doctors for a few minutes

Sweden’s Frida Karlsson had to be treated by a team of doctors for a few minutes

Credit: AFP/MARCO BERTORELLO

The athletes took a run-up for 6.3 kilometers, then climbed the remaining 3.7 kilometers to the finish: on a ski slope. A total of 425 meters in altitude had to be overcome on the climb, three ramps in particular were difficult – the steepest passage has a 28% gradient. Anyone who interferes has no chance of regaining their strength.

The brutal rise claimed its victims. Overall winner Karlsson, for example, collapsed just after the finish line and was on the ground for a few minutes before a team of medics attended to the 23-year-old. She was unable to attend the awards ceremony. Many other runners also fell to their knees at the finish line and lay in the snow all over the finish area. They even blocked the entrance of the athletes behind them.

Henning overjoyed after success

The French Delphine Claudel ensured the victory of the day. American Rosie Brennan passed Hennig on Sunday, but fifth place was still more than a respectable achievement for the Beijing 2022 gold medalist. Oberwiesenthal’s wife left strong Norwegian Heidi Weng behind – even whether his participation before the start of the year has long been questionable due to a cold.

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The way Hennig tricked Karlsson, Niskanen and Brennan on Saturday was almost reminiscent of the big moments at the Olympics last February. Hennig himself ran out of superlatives after his maiden World Cup win. “I’m over, over, over the moon. I never dared dream it would end like this. I had big goals. I’m just speechless and elated. Especially because my family and my boyfriend were there,” said Germany’s top cross-country skier. His most important goal after the triumph was “first to cuddle the family.”

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Team leader Schlickenrieder, who had led Germany to success they hadn’t seen for a long time last winter, was equally enthusiastic. “What she showed today was unique. It’s good that she stayed calm here and followed the tactics of the coaches. It’s great what she did there,” said the former professional. Behind Hennig in World Class, Pia Fink and Laura Gimmler also showed decent performances. Fink even finished ahead of Hennig on Sunday.


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