He is not only the king of Düsseldorf any more. Peter Larsson is now also king of Shangri-La. He won the first stage of the Tour de Ski China at 10 500 feet above sea level.
The conditions where extreme at the first stage of the Tour de Ski China. The firs race where held in south China, close to Tibet and the high altitude really put the pressure on the skiers. Bjoern Lind, Olympic Champion from Torino 2006, missed to qualify to the quarterfinal and the gaps where biga.
– I did not want to go 100 % considering the thin air and because of that I missed to qualify for the quarterfinal, says Bjoern Lind.
But some skiers enjoyed the race in the thin air and one of them was Peter Larsson!
– I felt good and fast from the beginning to the end of the race. I can not believe that I won today. During the last three weeks I have only been training really easy because of sickness, says Peter Larsson.
Peter Larsson crossed the finish line at a gigantic football arena surrounded with peaks over 16 400 feet. Peter crushed all his opponents and won the race ahead of Fabio Pasini, Italy, Anders Hoegberg, Sweden and Mikko Maaranen, Finland.
– It was tough to recover between the races but after the start signal in the final I felt that I had totally control over the race and my opponents, says Peter Larsson.
Before the race, Peter’s roommate Bjoern Lind said that Peter was going to win the race.
– I thought it sounded crazy so I told him that if I win the race he will get half of the prize money. So now I own him almost $800, but that’s no problem a day like this, laughs Peter Larsson.
Peter Larsson is uncertain about the future.
– I have had stomach problems but if it feels good for another week I will start to train hard again. Then Bengt Stattin, the Swedish team captain, can start to count on me for world cup victories again, says Peter Larsson
Anders Hoegberg, Sweden also did a great race and showed that he now races faster and faster everyday.
– It was great to finally step up on a podium. It was a long time ago now. It feels like I am on in it again after a long period of bad racing, says Ander Hoegberg.
It was a double victory by Norway in the women’s race. Solfrid Braathen and Elise Tyldum took the two first podium places ahead of Elin Ek, Sweden.
– I am satisfied with my race. The conditions where tough but I could give everything I had and racing here in Shangri-La is just amazing, says Elin Ek.
Solfrid Braathen did not expect to win but she was happy after the race.
– Usually I race slowly at high altitude and I was suffering from a stomach disorder two days ago so this was a big surprise for me, says Solfrid Braathen.
Also Elise Tyldum who placed second was really happy.
– The experience to race here is amazing. It is totally different from racing in Norway, says Elise Tyldum.
The Tour de Ski China continues on January 1, 2008 with a sprint race in Changchun. The day after that is it time for the Chinese Vasaloppet and the tour will come to an end on January 5, in Mongolia.
Results of Tour de Ski China, stage 1/4
Sprint men: 1) Peter Larsson, Sweden, 2) Fabio Pasini, Italy, 3) Anders Hoegberg, Sweden, 4) Mikko Maaranen, Finland, 5) Paul Murray, Australia, 6) Jari Joutsen, Finland, 7) Wang Songtao, China, 8) Philip Sebastian Furrer, Switzerland, 9) Kent-Ove Clausen, Norway, 10) Erik Bakkefjord, Norway, 11) Fredrik Uusiatalo, Sweden, 12) Fredrik Bystroem, Sweden, 13) Magnus Myhr, Sweden, 14) Ville Verkma, Finland, 15) Joakim Jonsson, Sweden, 16) Fredrik Persson, Sweden.
Sprint women: 1) Solfrid Braathen, Norway, 2) Elise Tyldum, Norway, 3) Elin Ek, Sweden, 4) Song Bo, China, 5) Barbara Moriggel, Italy, 6) Esther Bottomley, Australien, 7) Anna-Karin Stroemstedt, Sweden, 8) Lena Pichard, Switzerland, 9) Kari Jessen, Norway, 10) Lena Jensen, Norway, 11) Lydia Weydahl, Norway, 12) Laila Kveli, Norway, 13) Libo Wang, China, 14) Sandra Hansson, Sweden, 15) Mari Guin, Norway, 16) Ida Olsson, Sweden.