Kari Varis took his seventh victory at Finlandia Ski Marathon when he sprinted to win 50 kilometer classic race on Saturday in Lahti. He had to fight until the end about it, as Lasse Paakkonen gave him a good match in the final straight. Paakkonen, a well-known sprint skier, had to settle for second place. Alexander Artemyev came in third.
Paakkonen was leading in downhill coming to the stadium, but Varis passed him in the end.
“I was pretty comfortable in the end. I knew you shouldn’t be first for the last downhill. I noticed I had good skis. My tactic for that worked out fine. Lasse is good in final sprints, but I have also won him in sprint. It was a good fight. For the race I didn’t have any particular tactic. When we passed 10 km mark, I put some effort to split the big group. Then there was me, Lasse and Artemyev. The pace was not so hard, but we worked well together and others didn’t catch us. It was not my plan to leave the decisions to the stadium area”, said the happy winner Kari Varis.
Finlandia debutant Lasse Paakkonen was irritated after he losed victory just by a little. “I made a small tactical mistake when I came to the downhill as first. Kari got better speed behind me”, Paakkonen said.
Heli Heiskanen was the winner at women’s race before Satu Siikanen. “Victory was my goal and the plan was to ski according to a feeling”, said the winner.