The official kick-off of the 2012 NC Summer GP took place on Saturday in Sochi (Russia) on the same hill that will host the Winter Olympic Games in 2014. Nevertheless, despite the prestige of the hosting venue, many teams decided to skip this first competition week-end and the starting group was missing in particular the presence of athletes coming from France, Norway, Germany and Italy.
The first winner of the season was Bernhard Gruber (AUT) who exploited at best his skills as jumper to gain an important advantage on his competitors and then control the race during the 10 km roller ski event. Nevertheless, the task wasn’t so easy as it could seem and Todd Lodwick (USA) pushed hard until the last meter to try closing the gap on Gruber. Unfortunately for him, his effort was a little bit less than what was required and the American crossed the finish line in second position, with a gap of 4.3 seconds from Gruber. Solid performance for Akito Watabe (JPN), second after the ski-jumping event, who was able to defend his place on the podium from the comeback of Christoph Bieler (AUT) and Yusuke Minato (JPN).
On Sunday, the main protagonists of the race were the same (and a scorching heat as guest star), but they switched places. Once again, Gruber proved to be the best on the hill, but this time around Lodwick started in a better position than the day before and was able to rapidly climb-up the ranking and close the gap on the leader without wasting too much energy. Showing a good deal of tactic wisdom, Lodwick stayed with Gruber until the last straight and then defeated the Austrian with a lighting-speed sprint. The third place went to Thomas Druml (CZE), who showed a very good physical shape on the roller skis after a good 11th place on the jumping-hill. Fourth place for Akito Watabe (JPN).
The next stage of the NC Summer GP will take place in Oberwiesenthal (GER) in a month, then on August 29th it will be the turn of Val di Fiemme, whilst the last two stages of the Summer GP will take place in Oberstdorf (GER) on August 31st and September 1st.