Polish national sporting hero Justyna Kowalczyk muscled her way to victory in today’s final event of the Tour de Ski, pushing her ahead of the FIS world cup leader heading into the Tour, Norway’s Marit Bjoergen, who has pledged that this will be the last year that she sits the event out. Kowalczyk easily defeated the entire field with a time of 35:13.7, beating runner-up Therese Johaug by 1:21.5.
Kowalczyk was greeted at the finish atop Italy’s Alpe Cermis by a veritable army of Polish supporters, who chanted “Justyna! Justyna!” as she crossed the line. The Pole now has 1,271 world cup points, fully 367 points ahead of second-place Arianna Follis of Italy.
Kowalczyk’s win was her second in a row, making her the second woman to win the event twice. Finland’s Virpi Katriina Sarasvuo won the first edition in 2007, and then again in 2009.
The final day of the eight-day Tour de Ski endurance racing event featured the most brutal of all of its courses: a gruelling nine-kilometre climb, covering a total of 450 vertical metres. It is expected to be the most-watched cross-country skiing event of the year.
When asked what she would do to celebrate he victory in the event and her lead in the World Cup standings, Kowalczyk said: “I am going to eat, sleep and rest.”