"I’m hoping there will be a sprint for the finish at Sunday’s marathon," says Even, the youngest of the three Northug brothers with a grin after his victory in the sprint race in the St. Moritz Park. The 21-year-old beat his fellow compatriot Erik Bransdal to everyone’s surprise. Bransdal had been the favourite – he had won the World Cup sprint in Drammen, Norway, just last Wednesday. Valentin Chauvin and Bastien Buttin, both from France, took third and fourth place respectively behind the Norwegian duo, followed by the two Swiss athletes Roman Furger and Jöri Kindschi. Furger had been a strong contender in the final race, but a fall as he lay in third place saw him bury all his hopes for a place on the podium.
In the women’s race, it was Mari Eide from Norway who met the high expectations. She never missed a beat in the final race relegating her competitors to second and third place. Alina Meier from Davos took second place surprisingly. Still lying at the rear of the field in the final’s first lap, she adeptly manoeuvred
herself to the front and narrowly but successfully defended her second place in front of Elisabeth Schicho from Germany. It took the young athlete from Grisons a while to grasp her second place. Rahel Imoberdorf from the Valais qualified for the final race, but never became a contender for the podium.
Alongside the top athletes, the young athletes from the region fought for glory in a separate competition. They were cheered on by the hundreds of spectators that lined the circular course.
Sunday’s Engadin Ski Marathon will conclude the Engadin marathon week. As in the sprint race, Norway, France, and Switzerland may well be the strongest contenders for the victory. The Swiss have two aces up their sleeves: despite losing out in the finals Rahel Imoberdorf, as well as Roman Furger, are among the favourites. It remains to be seen whether Even Northug will be able to clinch Sunday’s sprint finish.
The Engadin Night Sprint St. Moritz is organised by St. Moritz Sport, the town’s sports body, in cooperation with the Engadin Skimarathon.