Livigno 21.01.2023 - In the magnificent winter setting of Livigno, it was Sweden's Jonna Sundling and Norway's Johannes Høsflot Klæbo who won the first cross-country World Cup race in the resort's history, at the end of a day marked by the classic thrills of the Sprint, on the track, and the warmth of the large crowd, off it. The athletes, greeted by the completely snow-covered and almost fairy-tale landscape of Little Tibet, showed their appreciation for the event and the course, bringing to the stage a great sporting spectacle, full of outstanding athletic performances and interesting tactical challenges, which accompanied the race since the quarterfinals.
Among women, Sweden's domination was extraordinary, placing no less than three athletes on the podium, confirming the great tradition of its movement and the excellent form of its spearheads. Third place for Emma Ribom, 25 years old from Kalix, surprise of the day and protagonist of a test of character. Better than her were only the more titled Maja Dahlqvist and Jonna Sundling, who finished second and first respectively, in a final dominated from the very first meters, in which the team play of the Swedes nipped in the bud the ambitions of Swiss Nadine Faehndrich, perhaps the most eagerly awaited of the eve. Beaming at the finish line, Sundling said, "It's a pretty challenging track here, I knew I could make it to the final and then push to the end. I just tried to do my best and not think about who I was racing against. I just wanted to race the best I could and see how it went. I'm so happy. It means a lot to me."
Among the men, however, absolute domination by multiple Olympic champion Johannes Høsflot Klæbo, who crushed the competition in every round, conceding only to France's Richard Jouve in the final the honor of a hard-fought finish. This success once again certifies the level of the Norwegian talent, now fully counted among the best skiers ever. A regular visitor to the snows of Livigno, Johannes expressed great satisfaction with both the final sprint and the organization of the event: "It was a great battle and it was a lot of fun to race here. First time in Livigno-I've been here a couple of times before in preparation and what they managed to create is really, really nice. A lot of people cheering for us-I love Livigno, I like to spend time there and I'm happy that we were able to race here as well." Completing the men's podium was the surprising Swiss Janik Riebli.
Federico Pellegrino's dream of imposing himself on the Livigno course, with which the Italian has long had a special relationship, came to a halt in the semifinals. The Valdostan, after a convincing start, found himself embroiled in a thrilling semifinal, in the company of all the best in the discipline. A true early final, the race ended only in a photo finish, leaving Pellegrino out of the final by a handful of hundredths: "I obviously cannot say I am satisfied, but this is my way of racing, which has given me so much throughout my career. Again today it was very close to being there to play it out until the end. Honor to those on the podium, who certainly deserved it, but tomorrow we'll try again, hoping to get something more."
Finally, the organizational success of the event should be noted, which is making the weekend a long celebration of sports. The Aquagranda transformed into Casa Italia, the jubilant crowd that flocked to Piazza del Comune last night for the athletes' presentation and Al Bano's concert, and the many fans scattered along the course are making the Livigno event truly unforgettable. A full-bodied program of side activities, including music, food and culture, culminates with a concert by rapper Tananai in Piazza del Comune, scheduled from 6 pm.