“This victory saves my entire season,” John Kristian Dahl said after winning Vasaloppet by 1 second to fellow Madshus racer Stian Hoelgaard in a bunch sprint.
“I had fantastic skis. I skied on a brand new pair and that was really fun. Also, there are always some luck involved, I’ve trained well this last month and I made good choices at the end of the race,” Dahl said to Madshus.com after the race.
Dahl, who also won Vasaloppet in 2014, surged on the last stretch to the finish line in one of the biggest mass sprints in the history of the race, where a total of 29 racers were fighting for the victory.
A breakaway that took off about 38km into the race had a lead of more than 2 minutes in Oxberg, where Dahl had nearly given up the hope of a victory. But then Dahl and the rest of the main field caught the two racers in the breakaway with several kilometers to go, and the whole bunch stayed together all the way to the finish.
“I thought that I would just go after it, and see if I could last. So I started picking up the pace, but it was so hard to get anyone else to join me, so spent a lot of energy there,” Dahl said after his finish, adding that he had a strategy once he saw the opportunity.
“I defended my own position. I stayed in my own track for the last four kilometers. I just skied faster and faster as we approached the finish line, and the last 200 meters I just sold out. I didn’t know that I made it until I had crossed the line. It was an intense experience,” Dahl said.
This second victory at the Vasaloppet means the world to Dahl, especially given a rough season so far.
“It’s really wonderful to be able to defend my victory from 2014. Our team has had a lot of trouble this year, and this win really makes the season for the entire team,” Dahl said.
“I skied a perfect race today. John Kristian was just that much faster at the end, and fully deserves the victory,” Hoelgaard said to Madshus.com.
RESULTS Vasaloppet 2016, men
1. John Kristian Dahl, (NOR) Norge, 4.08.00
2. Stian Hoelgaard, (NOR) Norge, 4.08.01
3. Anders Mölmen Höst, (NOR) Norge, 4.08.02
4. Öyvind Moen Fjeld, (NOR) Norge, 4.08.02
5. Dario Cologna, (SUI) Schweiz, 4.08.02
6. Markus Ottosson, (SWE) IFK Umeå, 4.08.02
7. Jerry Ahrlin, (SWE) Team Swedemount Sport, 4.08.03
8. Stanislav Rezác, (CZE) Tjeckien, 4.08.03
9. Johan Kjölstad, (NOR) Norge, 4.08.03
10. Oskar Kardin, (SWE) Östersunds SK, 4.08.03