Emily Harrop, centre, led a French podium sweep in the women's sprint at the ISMF World Cup in Val Martello ©ISMF

France secured a historic podium sweep led by Emily Harrop in the women's sprint event at the International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF) World Cup in Val Martello, while Switzerland's Arno Lietha triumphed in the men's sprint.

Sprint competition featured an 80-metre ascent and descent starting and finishing at the Biathlon Centre Grogg in the Italian resort.

This season's leading sprinter Harrop won her quarter-final and semi-final, and then triumphed in 3min 48.736sec in the final.

Her compatriot Léna Bonnel was 8.188sec off the pace in second, with Célia Perillat-Pessey taking third in 4:00.742, narrowly beating Switzerland's Marianne Fatton who clocked 4:01.850.

Harrop was thrilled to share her success with her compatriots.

"This is a race to remember for a long, long time," she said.

"We’ve been thinking about this and it’s so emotional, an amazing day and a perfect race.

"I’ll never forget the feeling in the finish when I looked back and saw Léna and Célia crossing the line behind me."

This was the first time the women's sprint podium at a World Cup featured three athletes from the same country.

ISMF World Cup leader Giulia Murada of Italy had the chance to move clear at the top of the standings because closest challenger Axelle Gachet-Mollaret of France did not participate in the sprint.

Switzerland's Arno Lietha, centre, won a seventh men's sprint World Cup of his career ©ISMF
Switzerland's Arno Lietha, centre, won a seventh men's sprint World Cup of his career ©ISMF

However, she crashed out in the quarter-finals and on 752 points is now just two clear of Perillat-Pessey, with Gachet-Mollaret third on 711 and Harrop fourth on 667.

Harrop leads the sprint standings with 357 to the 320 of Perillat-Pessey.

In the men's event, Lietha won a seventh sprint World Cup of his career, edging out Spain's Oriol Cardona Coll in the final by just 0.849 with his time of 3:11.131 in the final.

"That was one of the toughest races," said Lietha.

"Iwan [Arnold], Oriol and I were already together in the quarter-final and finished on the final podium.

"It says everything.

"It was a hard battle from the start of the day, and winning the final required digging deep."

Third place went to Swiss athlete Arnold, who finished in 3:17.439.

Lietha moved further clear at the top of the sprint standings with 390 points, with Arnold in second place having 334.

France's Thibault Anselmet extended his lead at the top of the overall World Cup standings, moving on to 707 points by ranking eighth with his semi-final elimination.

Closest challenger Maximilien Drion du Chapois of Belgium is 133 points further back on 574 after losing in the quarter-finals to place 13th in Val Martello.

A further five ISMF World Cup events including two sprint competitions are scheduled, with the next due to be held in Schladming in Austria on March 18 and 19, and featuring both sprint and vertical competitions.

The ISMF World Championships is scheduled for February 28 to March 5 at Boi Taull in Spain.