Maria Gräfnings secures FIS Worldloppet Cup Champion Title 2019

Seven years ago the FInlandia Hiihto was part of the FIS Worldloppet Cup. Today the official FIS-worldcup of marathon skiing returned to the cross-country skiing capital in Finland, to Lahti, for the 6th and previous last stage of the ongoing season. Maria Gräfnings can secure her first FIS Worldloppet Cup overall title already today with winning the Finlandia Hiihto, while in the men’s race Juho Mikkonen is celebration a home victory.

Gräfnings wins the Finlandia Hiihto and makes herself the new Champion

With 110 points advantage over her chasers, Maria Gräfnings from Sweden went to the starting line of the Finnish Worldloppet race, knowing, if she is doing a strong race, she could become the FIS Worldloppet Cup Champion 2019 already today. With this extra motivation, the SAS pro Team skier went into today’s 6th FIS Worldloppet Cup stage quite confidential and overtook the leading position in the ladie’s race from the beginning on. After quite fast first kilometres the ladies took out the speed and kept an average speed for the major part of the race. But on the last 15 kilometres, the fight was on again. Gräfnings showed that she hasn’t lost any of her strength over the season and finished 34 seconds ahead of Sini Alusniemi from Finland. Klara Moravcova from the Czech Republic finished on the 3rd position with a gap of 1:33. 

Gräfnings celebrating her 4th victory this season. (c) Heidi Lehikoinen

With this victory, Maria Gräfnings secures her first FIS Worldloppet Cup Champion title already before the final stage in Russia. After finishing the overall ranking 2nd in 2017 and 2018, she finally can celebrate standing on top of the podium. She won 4 of the 6 stages so far, finished one second and had to skip one stage because of beeing sick. So Gräfnings definitely is deserving the goblet. But for rising it up into the air, she has to wait until the beginning of April, for the Russian Ugraloppet, the final stage of the cup.

The race today was special! It was windy and no one wanted to be in the front in the group. We were skiing slow and more and more people joined the group. When we came into the woods with a little bit less wind I was going all in – 15 km before the finish. Then I got a gap from the other girls. So happy to finish first!

Maria Gräfnings, Finlandia Hiihto winner 2019

Finlandia Hiihto 2019 Results Ladies

  1. Maria Gräfnings, SWE
  2. Sini Alusniemi, FIN
  3. Klara Moravcova, CZE
  4. Maija Hakala, FIN
  5. Katariina Lonka, FIN
  6. Berthe Annette Svenkerud, NOR
1st Maria Gräfnings, 2nd Sini Alusniemi, 3rd Klara Moravcova. (c) Heidi Lehikoinen

Mikkonen wins Finlandia Hiihto while Tarantola increases his overall-lead

In the men’s competition everyone counted with the 12th victory of Kari Varis, the Finn who won the Finlandia Hiihto the most times. During the race he was skiing quit clever in the back of the leading pack, knowing, that nobody else in this group knows how to compete the final kilometres better than him. But this time several attacks of the French skiers have prevented his plans. Thomas Chamballant was the first one who attacked the 8 men leading pack seriously at around 37 kilometres. But the group never let him go far away: Damien Tarantola, Benoit Chauvet, Loic Guigonnet, Bastien Poirrier and others worked together to catch him. On the final hill, around 2 km before the finish Loic Guigonnet took his chance and attacked for a final fight. 

“I went all in on the final hill and I was able to bring a gap between me and the group. But a few meters before the last downhill, down to the statium, the group catched me again and I had no energy left for the final sprint.”, says Loic Guigonnet.

Another Finn skier was the strongest on the final kilometre: Juho Mikkonen came down the last downhill first and didn’t give away the lead anymore and can celebrate a home victory. 2 seconds behind him, the red bib holder, Damien Tarantola (FRA) finished second, while Loic Guigonnet could save the 3rd place. 

Juho Mikkonen wins the Finlandia Hiihto 2019. (c) Heidi Lehikoinen.

“My tactic was to follow the French skiers as long as possible. Specially on the red bib holder I kept my eyes on. And in the end I tried to have a good position for the final kilometres. 100 metres before the final downhill I attacked and created a good gap. This was enough for the victory!”

Juho Mikkonen, winner Finlandia Hiihto 2019

Results Finlandia Hiihto 2019 Men

  1. Juho Mikkonen, FIN
  2. Damien Tarantola, FRA
  3. Loic Guigonnet, FRA
  4. Gerard Agnellet, FRA
  5. Bastien Poirrier, FRA
  6. Kari Varis, FIN
1st Juho Mikkonen, 2nd Damien Tarantola, 3rd Loic Guigonnet. (c) Heidi Lehikoinen

Gräfnings already is the new Champion, while Tarantola has the best chances among the men

Maria Gräfnings can make her travels to the Russian Ugraloppet quite relaxed. Today she added another 100 points to her account, giving her an advante of 181 points. That means, already before the start of the final stage, she has the overall victory for sure. Also the 2nd place for Tatjana Mannima is almost fixed. She only needs to collect at least one point in order to become 2nd. Klara Moravcova will at least finish the Worldloppet Cup season as 3rd. 

With another 2nd place, hence 80 points, Damien Tarantola is able to expand his lead in the overall ranking up to 37 points. But Gerard Agnellet who is on position two, 3rd placed Loic Guigonnet and 4th Bastien Poirrier are within the range of victory possibilities.

The FIS Worldloppet Cup is into its final stage on the 6th of April, at the Ugraloppet in Russia, with 50 km Free Technique. 

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