Van der Graaff makes strong start to Tour de Ski with first cross-country win
Laurien van der Graaff claimed her first ever cross country World Cup win to get her Tour de Ski off to the best possible start in Lenzerheide.
Consisting of seven races in nine days, spread over three countries, the annual Tour de Ski event is one of the most prestigious in the world of cross country skiing.
And van der Graff, in her 114th World Cup race, tops the standings after winning the 1.5km freestyle sprint by 5.6s from America's Sophie Caldwell and Norway's Maiken Caspersen Falla.
The final saw an early fall for Germany's Sandra Ringwald resulting in her finishing sixth and last, 21.3s behind the winner.
Van der Graaff's win gives her 60 points and sees her top the nascent Tour de Ski standings, with the Swiss resort also playing host to round two – the 10km classic interval start – on New Year's Eve.
Away from the Tour de Ski, Falla has leapfrogged Stina Nilsson in the sprint World Cup standings as she sits on 223 with the Swede – who didn't compete on Saturday – on 195 and Finland's Krista Parmakoski, eighth in Lenzerheide, third on 173.
While the overall cross country World Cup is still led by Sweden's Charlotte Kalla – despite her also not racing in Switzerland – on 610 points while Norway's Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg is 70 points behind in second and compatriot Heidi Weng just a further two back in third.