This is a quick recap of today’s results. Longer article and more athlete quotes coming later today.
Some things played out just about exactly as expected in Wednesday’s stage four of the Tour de Ski, a 20-kilometer skate pursuit in Oberstdorf, Germany.
The men’s race started with Johannes Høsflot Klæbo going off the line with a 12-second lead over Simen Hegstad Krüger in the pursuit start (by virtue of their finishing positions in yesterday’s classic race).
It ended with perhaps the most familiar sight in contemporary men’s skiing, a perfectly positioned Klæbo moving to the front of the field at just the right time to lead out a group sprint and take the win with what looked like relative ease. Yes, Klæbo wins “everything” (at least literally all four races so far in this year’s Tour de Ski), but he also positions himself perfectly to make it happen. Everyone wants to be in or near the lead going into the crux of the final lap of a pursuit or mass start race. Klæbo seems to always make it happen.
Klæbo took the win in 41:35.8. He as followed by Sindre Bjørnestad Skar, 1.8 seconds back, and Federico Pellegrino, 2.1 seconds back. Pellegrino, the longtime sprint specialist who has been racing on the World Cup for over a decade, did not have a single distance podium in his career coming into this season. Now he has three.
For the American men, half the team packed the top-30, with Ben Ogden finishing 13th, Scott Patterson 17th, Hunter Wonders 19th, and Gus Schumacher 26th. Behind them, Zak Ketterson was 55th, Finn O’Connell 56th, JC Schoonmaker 69th, and Kevin Bolger 71st.
Wonders in 19th was less than 12 seconds off the win and within 10 seconds of the podium, reflecting tight racing on the narrow ribbon of white snow winding through an otherwise discomfitingly verdant valley.
Results: Stage 4 | overall Tour standings
A few hours later, the women’s race started with Frida Karlsson heading out with a 16-second gap over Krista Pärmäkoski, 18 seconds over Anne Kjersti Kalvå, and 20 seconds over Tiril Udnes Weng.
20 kilometers later, Weng and Kalvå had traded positions by a narrow margin, but the top three looked roughly like it had at the start: Frida Karlsson first, in 48:02.6; Pärmäkoski second, about 14 seconds back; then Tiril Weng third, 1:28 back. Kalvå was just off the podium in fourth, 1.3 seconds back of Tiril Weng.
Behind them, a resurgent Jessie Diggins suggested that there might not be too much fundamentally wrong with her. Diggins started in bib 40, 2:10 back of Karlsson in first. She promptly moved up through the pack, and was well-positioned within the main chase group throughout much of the race.
When nine athletes finished within five seconds of each other to make up places five through thirteen on the day, Diggins was near the front of that group, finishing the stage eighth overall. Brennan was at the rear of this subgroup, crossing the line in 13th. Diggins was roughly 1:47 back of Karlsson, and Brennan 1:51 back.
Julia Kern was close behind in 17th. Sophia Laukli was 30th, followed by Alayna Sonnesyn in 31st to round out the American women. While the time-of-day rankings count primarily for FIS points, and are often an imperfect metric for overall performance in pursuit races, it should nonetheless be noted that all five American women ranked within the top ten for time of day: Diggins first, Sonnesyn fifth, Kern sixth, Laukli eighth, and Brennan tenth.
The team has a four-hour post-race drive today, then a rest day tomorrow, before the Tour resumes with the final three days of racing in Val di Fiemme, Italy, on Friday through Sunday. In the overall standings, Brennan heads to Italy leading the American women in eighth, with Kern in 14th. For the men, Ogden is 12th, followed by Wonders in 25th.
Again, we’ll have more details on the race, in particular athlete comments, later today, as well as full writeups on the U.S. Nationals classic sprint live from Houghton. Check back later today for more.
Results: Stage 4 | overall Tour standings
— Gavin Kentch
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