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Centimeter triumph in the finish sprint: German cross-country skiers sensationally win gold

Centimeter triumph in the finish sprint
German cross-country skiers sensationally win gold

The German cross-country skiers have to convert their duo for the team sprint shortly before the start of the competition – and yet Victoria Carl and Katharina Hennig surprisingly win the gold medal at the Olympic Winter Games. It’s the next cross-country sensation.

Katharina Hennig literally shouted at her teammate across the finish line in the cross-country stadium in Zhangjiakou. Then she looked almost incredulously at the result display, only to take a few steps towards Victoria Carl and celebrate with her the sensational gold in the team sprint of the Olympic Winter Games.

In a terrific final sprint, 26-year-old Carl secured the German cross-country team’s first triumph since the 2010 Olympic victory in Vancouver, also in the team sprint with Evi Sachsenbacher-Stehle and Claudia Nystad. As in China, the pairs from Sweden and Russia ended up on the silver and bronze ranks.

“Could cry all day”

Even long after the coup, there was disbelief in the German team. “I’m full of adrenaline. I don’t know what to do. I’m walking around like counterfeit money,” Carl said. “We feel like we’re in the wrong film. We still can’t really believe what we’ve done,” reported Katharina Hennig. National coach Peter Schlickenrieder, who celebrated his 52nd birthday, fought back tears in the ARD interview. “It’s a brutal dream. I have to pull myself together a bit. It will probably only be realized in ten or 20 years,” said the former world-class runner. “I think I could cry all day.”

For Hennig and Carl it was already the second precious metal at the games and the big triumph. Last Saturday they won silver in the relay together with Katherine Sauerbrey and Sofie Krehl. Sauerbrey was actually intended for the team sprint. The German Ski Association announced a few hours before the competition that she did not feel one hundred percent fit and had decided not to compete in the past few days due to the high levels of stress.

The surrogate turned out to be a godsend. In bright sunshine and temperatures of around minus 10 degrees, the two Germans were able to match the pace of the top duos from the start. At the last change, Hennig was just ahead of Finland and the USA when she handed over to Carl. And the final runner defeated the favorites.

“On the home straight I’ll destroy them”

“I said to Katha before: I’ll destroy her on the home straight,” said Carl. “I knew that I could push, that that was my strength. No sooner said than done.” Above all, Schlickenrieder could hardly believe her idea. “If we get to the final, that’s great,” he said after the change. “And then Vicky does something she’s never done before.” Tactically, she delivered a super race in the relay. And now she’s showing again “an excellent thing that nobody would have believed her capable of,” said the coach. “Now you say: Chapeau, where does that come from?”

Carl made a decisive contribution to the two big and unexpected medal successes of the German cross-country aces at these winter games. In 2018 in Pyeongchang, the cross-country skiers went without a medal, in 2014 in Sochi there was bronze for the women’s relay with Nicole Fessel, Stefanie Böhler, Claudia Nystad and Denise Herrmann.

The men were unlucky in the team sprint. Albert Kuchler and Janosch Brugger were eliminated in the semifinals. Brugger lost a ski on the last lap and thus had no chance to fight for the final. The German cross-country team could get over that that day.

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