Dahlqvist Unstoppable in Dresden; Hannah Halvorsen earns a career-best 7th, with Diggins 8th – FasterSkier.com

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For the fourth consecutive year, the city of Dresden, Germany was ready to host an exciting City Freestyle sprint over a 1.3 kilometer course. A race that usually attracts fans from all over the world, for the second year in a row was unable to allow spectators onto the course due to Covid. The last race before the holidays, the skiers were ready to have fun and enjoy the difficult and icy course.

Julia Kern (bib 10) takes the inside in a curve in Dresden. (Photo: NordicFocus)

“It’s so amazing, it’s one of my favorite races of the year. I love it, it’s fast and furious. It’s going to be an exciting day of racing,” Julia Kern told FIS before the heats start Kern’s family has roots in Germany and she is often celebrated in Dresden as if she were a native.

On the women’s side, World Cup sprint leader Maja Dahlqvist (SWE) was ready to continue her excellent start to the season. On a winning streak, has been on the top step of the podium in each of the last four individual sprint races, including the first three this season. A fifth win would make Dahlqvist the second woman to win five consecutive World Cup individual sprint events, after Norwegian legend Marit Bjørgen, who won 11 in a row from December 2003 to January 2005.

Sweden’s Jonna Sundling set the mark in qualifying, finishing in first place in 2:29.52. The Americans placed four in the top 30 in qualifying, with Hailey Swirbul leading in 7th (+2.39), followed by Kern in 10th (+3.49), Jessie Diggins in 17th (+4.87) and Hannah Halvorsen in 25th. (+6.82).

Best American qualifier in Dresden, Hailey Swirbul plays the quarter-final. (Photo: NordicFocus)

In the first run of the women’s sprint, Swirbul stayed in contact with the leading pack until the last 100 meters. On the final straight, Swirbul pushed to the line to cross fourth in his heat. Anamarija Lampic (SLO) and Kristine Stavås Skistad (NOR), who qualified 6th and 9th respectively, were the first two in the heat.

In the second moto, Kern (USA) raced alongside Dahlqvist, who cruised comfortably through the heat to take the win ahead of Italy’s Greta Laurent. Kern held his position solidly in contact with the leaders throughout the two-lap course, but finished fifth in the heat, unable to advance.

Hannah Halvorsen went from the quarters to the semis in Dresden. (Photo: NordicFocus)

In the third heat, Hannah Halvorsen (USA) took on top qualifier Sundling, who won the classic sprint at last year’s World Championships in Oberstdorf, GER. Navigating the chaos, Halvorsen was able to stay on her feet after a crash between Nathalie von Siebenthal (SUI) and Magni Smeedas (NOR) left a group of three battling for the top two spots. Sundling was able to comfortably cross the finish line in the lead, with a photo-finish between Halvorsen and Jasmin Kahara (FIN) behind her. Halvorsen managed to pass Kahara in the bootslide, taking second place in her heat and clinching her ticket to the semi-final.

Diggins (USA) raced into the final heat of the quarter-final, staying with the main field throughout the laps, moving from 5th to 3rd as they headed down the home straight. Diggins finished third in the heat but was able to advance to the semis as a lucky loser. Lena Quintin (FRA) and Moa Lundgren (SWE) were the two automatic qualifiers of this round.

Fast races on icy tracks in Dresden make staying upright and balanced a feat in itself. (Photo: NordicFocus)

In the first semi-final, Sundling and Dahlqvist set a steady pace with the peloton staying together throughout both laps. Pulling forward in the final 500 metres, Dahlqvist and Sundling cruised to the finish, moving past first and second place respectively. On their heels, Lampic and Skistad crossed the line in a photo-finish, just 0.35 seconds behind Dahlqvist. These two women qualified for the final as lucky losers.

The two Americans, Diggins and Halvorsen both raced in the second semi-final, which featured the inevitable twists and turns of the sprint. On the lap, 23-year-old Léa Quintin of France, who had qualified second, broke her left pole, leaving her to search for a new one as the peloton drifted away.

In the final straight, Jessie Diggins and Hannah Halvorsen race the semi-final in Dresden. (Photo: NordicFocus)

Meanwhile, Diggins and Halvorsen patiently waited near the back of the pack until the final right away where both made strong moves to battle it out for a place in the final. Halvorsen moved from fifth place one position to fight for second, but finished just 0.27 seconds behind Eva Urevec of Slovenia who took the automatic qualifying second position. Diggins crossed a ski length behind Halvorsen, each less than a second behind Mathilde Myhrvold (NOR) who won the run.

The final featured two Norwegians, two Swedes and two Slovenian skiers battling it out for the Dresden sprint title.

Dahlqvist follows Sundling in class in Dresden. (Photo: NordicFocus)

The race was tight and tactical, with all six women skiing together on the first loop. Dahlvquist and Sundling led all the way, controlling the pace up front. In the final 100 meters Dahlvquist started to move, creating a small gap between her and the peloton, to win in a time of 2:33:36. Sundling cruised just behind (+0.43) with Lampic closing early for third place (+0.64) to complete the top 3. Skistad finished the day in fourth (+1.64), with Myrhvold in fifth ( +3.03) and Urevc in sixth (+6.15).

The women’s individual sprint podium in Dresden. Maja Dahlqvist (SWE) won her fourth consecutive victory this season (out of four), ahead of her teammate Jonna Sundling and Anamarija Lamic (SLO). (Photo: NordicFocus)

The Americans had an outstanding day overall, with all four women finishing inside World Cup points. With the final rounds decided, Halvorsen ended his day in seventh position, his best result of his career. Coming out of a horrible accident in November 2019, Halvorsen showed she was back in form in Dresden.

Introspective and focused on progress, Halvorsen spoke about her day in Dresden and how it helped her step forward with confidence in her ability to qualify for the semi-finals and beyond.

After a good job in the semi-finals, Hannah Halvorsen and Jessie Diggins finished their days 7th and 8th respectively. (Photo: NordicFocus)

Diggins finished just behind Halvorsen in 8th place in the final standings, while Swirbul finished in 16th and Kern in 22nd.

Two Canadians raced the qualifier but did not advance in the heats. Maya Macisaac-Jones led the Canadians in 52nd (+11.31), while Dahria Beatty finished 58th (+14.16).

The Americans and Canadians debrief the qualification in Dresden. (Photo: NordicFocus)

With the win, Dahlvqist took over the overall World Cup lead from teammate – and roommate – Frida Karlsson (SWE). Diggins currently sits in 5th place, behind teammate Rosie Brennan who sits 4th. Now with a week off for Christmas, the teams will rest while they prepare for the Tour de Ski which begins on December 28th.

When asked to take over the World Cup lead from her teammate and best friend, Dahlvqist said in an interview with FIS: “The most important thing is that she is still in our room.”

In good form in period I, Maja Dahlqvist wins five in a row. (Photo: NordicFocus)


Qualification | Final

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