Germany’s Katharina Hennig earned her first World Cup victory as she finished first in the women’s mass start 15km classic in Val di Fiemme, Italy, on Saturday.
While many were looking to see whether overall 2022-23 Tour de Ski leader Frida Karlsson from Sweden would kick back from her early exit in Friday’s sprint, or if Norway’s Tiril Udnes Weng would continue her fine form to close the gap to the frontrunner, it was the German 26-year-old who performed a tactically clever race to grab the podium top spot.
“It was a very tough race and my body felt like expected after the last day and the four [sprint] runs I had. But I’m so happy to have my first victory here in Val di Fiemme,” Hennig said.
It was her sixth individual World Cup podium – three of which have come at classic mass starts in Val di Fiemme.
“This is one of my favourite tracks in the World Cup. Especially having a lot of family and my boyfriend at the track and that was very motivating,” she said.
Hennig and Karlsson stayed in the front group for the whole race, coming into the last 1.5km with Kerttu Niskanen from Finland and USA’s Rosie Brennan all within one second of each other.
But while Niskanen – another big challenge to Karlsson for the overall tour win – ended up pulling the pack of four into the home straight, Hennig stayed in the slip stream, overtaking the Finnish hope in the sprint. Karlsson, who is strong on the double poling, made a last attack with a last attack to claim the second place as Niskanen finished third.
“My tactic was mostly to save energy as good as possible because I had four races yesterday,” Hennig said.
“I didn’t know how my body would feel today. But I felt very good and I know that it’s the most important to have a good home straight here.”