Adam Johansson is set to win his second China Tour de Ski tomorrow as he won today's dramatic distance race in Nalati and disaster struck for Kusti Kittilae. Plagued by fever since yesterday's rest day, Kittilae did all he could to defend his overall lead but ultimately sunk to his knees and requires a miracle in the ski sprint tomorrow to outpoint Johansson.
Lisa Svensson staged a formidable coup in the sixth stage of the China Tour de Ski in Nalati, as she overtook the suprisingly strong Evelina Bangman in the final corner of the 2.5km distance race this afternoon. Svensson calculated the tricky 180 degree bend to perfection and left Bangman standing in the final dash to the line. What's more, Svensson takes over the lead in the overall classification as Frida Hallqvist had a complete off-day (11th) and Julia Jansson could not do better than 6th.
The magnificent snow-covered grassland of Nalati is the scene of the final big showdown in this year's China Tour de Ski. Local authorities and Nordic Ways are thrilled to crown the overall winners in the Kazakh minority region in Xinjiang, and have gone out of their way to make this inaugural event an unforgettable experience.
Things are seriously heating up in this year's China Tour de Ski as Adam Johansson and Julia Jansson made up quite some ground in the overall classification today. Both Johansson and Jansson took their second stage victories during the 1.2km ski sprint at the Tianshan Tianchi International Ski Resort in Xinjiang.
The 2013 China Tour de Ski is halfway and after four stages we have a clear leader in the men's competition and a very close battle in the women's. Nothing has been concluded yet, and we can look forward to some more great skiing in Xinjiang for the rest of the week.
After a difficult ski sprint in Xiwuqi, Kusti Kittilae returned to the top podium step in the 5km distance race in Tianshan Tianchi International Ski Resort this afternoon. In a photo finish the leader in the China Tour de Ski classification beat Jonathan Thoresson by 0.1 seconds with Adam Johansson taking third. Julia Jansson became the fourth winner in as many stages in the women's competition.
As the skiers are getting ready at the Tianshan Tianchi International Ski Resort for stages 4 and 5 of this year's China Tour de Ski, let's take a look back at the previous stages in Xiwuqi.
2010 China Tour de Ski champion Adam Johansson put himself back in the spotlight with a great victory in the Xiwuqi Ski Sprint. In the final 1.2km race, he clearly outsprinted Victor Gustafsson and Johan Eriksson, while Kusti Kittilae surprisingly had to settle for fourth place. In the women's final Jenni Hoylanen sprinted faster than Lisa Svensson after Qu Ying and Frida Hallqvist got entangled in the first few metres.
Yesterday's distance race winners Kusti Kittilae and Frida Hallquist seem to take a liking to Xiwuqi's ski course as they were also the fastest qualifiers in the individual ski sprint over 1.2km this morning. Weather conditions are significantly milder today as the wind blows a lot less than yesterday.
Last year's runner-up Kusti Kittilae lived up to expectations in a tough 5.4km distance race in Inner Mongolia's Xiwuqi. In very cold conditions and battling a fierce wind, Kittilae clearly got the better of Sweden's Bill Impola and Adam Johansson. The Fin also took the lead in the China Tour de Ski standing with a narrow margin of 10 points over Impola. Frida Hallquist won the women's event.
As Anders Hoegberg will not travel to Inner Mongolia this year, yesterday's second-placed Oscar Kardin is the one to watch as China Tour de Ski continues in Xiwuqi tomorrow, 4 January. Kardin, his 21st birthday only coming up in two weeks, may be disappointed by having lost Vasaloppet China by merely half a second, but has certainly not missed his debut in China.
As the skiers have begun their journey from Changchun to Xiwuqi, the local people in Inner Mongolia's grassland town are happily preparing their arrival. More than ever before, wintertime Xiwuqi features many impressive snow and ice sculptures with a Mongolian twist. Have a look at these teasers!