LAngling Olympic champion Katharina Hennig duped the international competition at the Tour de Ski and clinched her first World Cup victory ever. The 26-year-old prevailed in the mass start over 15 kilometers in the classic technique on Saturday and distanced the last remaining rivals on the sun-drenched home stretch of Val di Fiemme. After Olympic gold in the team sprint and Olympic silver in the relay – both in Beijing in 2022 – it is the greatest success of Hennig’s career.
“What she showed today was unique. It’s great that she stayed calm here and followed the tactics of the coaches. It’s really great what she did there,” said the enthusiastic team boss Peter Schlickenrieder to ZDF.
“First cuddle the family”
On the home stretch, Hennig left everyone behind and finished in front of Sweden’s Frida Karlsson, Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen and Rosie Brennan from the USA. “Now I’ll just cuddle the family and be happy with them,” said the beaming winner.
Hennig, who ensured the first German women’s World Cup victory in over 13 years, now also has a chance for the overall podium at the prestigious Tour de Ski event. “Of course I trust her. But she should enjoy it tomorrow. What is still to come is an encore,” said Schlickenrieder about Hennig, whose form curve has recently pointed steeply upwards after an illness around Christmas.
The so-called Final Climb is scheduled for Sunday in Italy, and Hennig’s starting position is excellent. Behind the winner of the day, Laura Gimmler (14th place) and Pia Fink (15th) also showed decent performances.