I'm blissful," said Katharina Hennig (right) after the race
IMAGO/MAXIM THORE / IMAGO/Bildbyran
Cross-country skiing Olympic champion Katharina Hennig duped the international competition at the Tour de Ski and clinched her first World Cup victory ever.
The 26-year-old prevailed in the mass start over 15 kilometers in the classic technique on Saturday and distanced the last remaining rivals on the sun-drenched home stretch of Val di Fiemme.
I'm so happy it worked out today,' she said afterwards.
After Olympic gold in the team sprint and Olympic silver in the relay - both in Beijing in 2022 - it is the greatest success of Hennig's career.
Since Claudia Nystad's triumph in March 2009 in Falun, no German cross-country skier had achieved an individual victory.
Hennig ended the long wait with an impressive performance.
On the penultimate stage of the Tour de Ski, she determined her "favourite race" from the start, and on the home stretch she easily left the Swede Frida Karlsson, who was the overall leader, and the Olympic silver medalist, Kerttu Niskanen from Finland.
Just hug the family
"What Katharina showed today was unique," said national coach Peter Schlickenrieder on ZDF.
Hennig delivered a masterly tactical performance in particular.
After an illness around Christmas, your form curve showed a steep upward trend.
“She didn't take first place on the last mountain, even though she could have.
When you learn so quickly, that's great," said Schlickenrieder.
In the overall standings, Hennig climbed to fourth place before the final ascent to Alpe Cermis on Sunday.
In the history of the Tour, no German runner has achieved a top five result in the final.
Hennig would have to catch up 23 seconds to oust Niskanen from third place, Karlsson is exactly two minutes behind the leading.
“We'll see how many grains are left in the body.
And they'll be scraped together tomorrow," said Hennig, who had more important things in mind beforehand: "Now I'll cuddle my family first - and then eat and sleep."