The Italian public was waiting for Federico Pellegrino’s jab, but the blue – disappointed at the finish line – stopped in the semifinal of the free technique sprint in Livigno, which immediately won the hearts of fans. Seventh place for the Valle d’Aosta, who expected more and who would have liked to give a prestigious result to the large audience. “I’m not satisfied,” he says. I wanted something more for this great support for our whole team, but sprints are like that». The possibility of entering the final was played down to the last minute, but he remained too close to Johannes Klaebo without being able to pass him, while on the other side the transalpine Richard Jouve found the necessary centimeters to put his foot in front of the blue and go directly to the final. The photo finish was needed to decree the positions of the first semi-final, but it was the second heat, much faster, that extinguished the blue’s hopes. Bitter in the mouth for the Nus policeman, ready to unleash all his power in the final. The umpteenth challenge with Johannes Klaebo has thus vanished. And it was the Norwegian himself who won the Livigno première, with another champion action. “It was a great battle and it was a lot of fun to race here – said Klaebo -. I’ve been here before, trained on a couple of occasions and now they’ve managed to create a really beautiful event, with a lot of support. I love Livigno, I like spending time there and I’m happy that we managed to compete on this track». Behind him the French Richard Jouve, with the third step of the podium for the Swiss Janik Riebli. Sweden instead dominated the women’s race, occupying all three steps of the podium. Success for Jonna Sundling, to precede Maja Dahlqvist and Emma Ribon. «It’s a rather demanding track – explains the winner – I knew I could reach the final. I tried to do my best, I’m happy, this victory means a lot to me.”
Italy, pushed by the home crowd, was the protagonist of a more than positive team performance. In the men’s race, in addition to Captain Pellegrino who stopped in seventh place, 22nd Simone Mocellini, a youngster who is growing rapidly and who has already conquered two podiums in the World Cup; 26th Michael Hellweger, 27th Giovanni Ticco and 28th Davide Graz, all entered in the final heats. In the women’s sprint 18th Caterina Ganz, 19th Cristina Pittin, 22nd Nicole Monsorno and 23rd Federica Sanfilippo, who a few days ago definitively said goodbye to biathlon to switch to cross-country skiing. The debut in the discipline had arrived at the end of last year, when she was called up for the Tour de Ski.
Today the sprint team, with Federico Pellegrino and Francesco De Fabiani who promise to blow up the audience of the “Little Tibet”, the cradle of cross-country skiing and more generally of outdoor sports. Once again Norway will be the big favourites.