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Persson and Lockner open the score!

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The 2018 China Tour de Ski started today on the slopes of Changbai Shan in Jilin Province with a fast ski sprint. Swedish skiers topped the sheets with pre-race favourites Simon Persson and Jacqueline Lockner taking top honours.

Good conditions as has become usual in northern China for another edition of China Tour de Ski. The Changbai Shan Luneng Shengdi sprint stage would show who got through new year's eve in the best way from an athlete's point of view, and clearly Simon Persson had not left anything up to chance. The Swedish top favourite for the overall victory this season immediately claimed his first stage win, outgunning Norwegian Andresen, Chinese sprint veteran Wang Qiang  and Czech skier Fabian Stocek in the final. Italy's roller ski champion Emmanuele Becchis came home 8th in his debut.

The women's race was dominated by Swedish skiers with one Finnish lady as the odd-one out in the final. Noora Kivikko was unable to jump on the podium, though. Jacqueline Lockner took an important stage win ahead of double China Tour de Ski champion Lisa Svensson and Mimi Bjoern, another protagonist in previous years.