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Sweeping the long and the short

Ida Sargent (USA) at the FIS cross-country World Cup team sprint in Dresden (GER). Photo: Nordic Focus
Ida Sargent (USA) at the FIS cross-country World Cup team sprint in Dresden (GER). Photo: Nordic Focus

Ida Sargent (USA) at the FIS cross-country World Cup team sprint in Dresden (GER). Photo: Nordic Focus

Podium performances in the Ski Classics marathon, the FIS World Cup team sprint and the IBU biathlon World Cup relay.

In the Ski Classics long-distance series, Sara Lindborg (SWE) delivered a solid podium finish in Austria – her first for the season – with second place in the 60-kilometer Kaiser Maximilian Lauf.

The race, which was the third event in the 2018 Ski Classics marathon series, was also the first event in the new mini cup “Alp Trophy.” The Alp Trophy is a bonus to the top racer overall in the three Alpine races Maximilian Lauf in Austria, La Diagonela in Switzerland on January 20, and Marcialonga in Italy on January 28.

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Sara Lindborg (SWE) was 2nd in the Ski Classics Kaiser Maximilian Lauf in Seefeld (AUT). Photo: Nordic Focus

Sara Lindborg (SWE) was 2nd in the Ski Classics Kaiser Maximilian Lauf in Seefeld (AUT). Photo: Nordic Focus

At the IBU biathlon World Cup in Rupholding (GER), Anna Magnusson helped Sweden to third place again for the second week in a row. This was the last World Cup relay prior to the Olympics in South Korea, which take place February 9 to 25.

On Sunday, Ida Sargent (USA) helped USA to third place in the World Cup team sprint in Dresden (GER). This was her third World Cup podium, and her second third place in the team sprint event. Last year, she was third in the same event at the pre-Olympics in South Korea.

Anna Magnusson helped Sweden to third place in the IBU biathlon World Cup relay in Rupholding (GER). Photo: Nordic Focus

Anna Magnusson helped Sweden to third place in the IBU biathlon World Cup relay in Rupholding (GER). Photo: Nordic Focus

“I almost passed out in the sprint”

Thea Krokan Murud (NOR) has impressed with several top 20 finishes at the World Cup this season. Photo: Nordic Focus
Thea Krokan Murud (NOR) has impressed with several top 20 finishes at the World Cup this season. Photo: Nordic Focus

Thea Krokan Murud (NOR) has impressed with several top-20 finishes at the World Cup. Photo: Nordic Focus

Thea Murud (NOR) went all in on her first international World Cup, and was rewarded with three more races on the spot.

The rookie was 11th in the FIS World Cup skate sprint in Davos (SUI) on Saturday, December 9, and 19th in the 10km skate race on Sunday, December 10.

“It was really hard. In the sprint, my muscles were so full of lactic acid that I almost came to a grinding stop and I felt like I was about to pass out,” Thea Murud said after the Davos weekend.

However, the 23-year-old impressed the coaches so much she was immediately picked for the next races, which took place in Toblach (ITA) December 16 and 17.

“I was really surprised to be picked for anything other than the sprint. When I traveled to Davos, I had packed for two nights and only skate equipment, but suddenly I was going to be away for over a week. I didn’t have enough clothes, and I had no classic skis or classic boots. But we managed to get it all shipped anyway,” Murud says with a laugh.

At the 10km classic pursuit in Toblach on December 17, Murud advanced to 19th place, moving up from 33rd place after the 10km skate the day before.

Meet the 23-year-old Norwegian power pack from Søre Ål near Lillehammer, who is named as one of the rising stars at the World Cup.

“Thea impressed us in Davos, and that’s why we picked her for the next world Cup round in Toblach this weekend. She is an exciting young racer who has improved significantly this season,” said the Norwegian National Team Director Vidar Løfshus as he presented the Toblach World Cup team on December 11.

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09.12.2017, Davos, Switzerland (SUI): Thea Krokan Murud (NOR), Yulia Belorukova (RUS), (l-r) - FIS world cup cross-country, individual sprint, Davos (SUI). www.nordicfocus.com. © Modica/NordicFocus. Every downloaded picture is fee-liable.

Thea Krokan Murud was 11th at the skate sprint in Davos (SUI) on December 9. Photo: Nordic Focus

What was it like to ski your first World Cup outside of Norway and the national quota?
“This was my first international World Cup, and my first skate races at the World Cup level. I wasn’t expecting to be picked for the World Cup at all, so it was really exciting to travel to Davos with the national team. I flew in the day before the race, and I definitely felt the altitude (1560 meters above sea level). During the skate sprint, I had so much lactic acid in my muscles and the thin air made it impossible to recover. I almost came to a grinding stop and I felt like I was about to pass out. So I was really happy just to make it through the qualifiers. I also didn’t expect to ski the 10km skate race the next day, so when they told me that after the sprint race, I was almost thinking ‘Oh no, do I really have to?’ But of course, I was really excited too. This is what I train for every day of the year. And it turned out at that altitude the distance race was much easier than the skate race.”

The National Team Director points out that you have made a lot of progress: What have you done differently coming into this season?
“I don’t feel like I’ve done much different. I have worked consistently for years, and I feel like it pays off now. The past couple of years, I’ve worked specifically on strength, especially upper body and arm strength, and I’ve done a lot of plyometrics. Now I see the results of more strength overall.

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Thea Krokan Murud leading the pack during the sprint World Cup in Lillehammer (NOR) on December 2. Photo: Nordic Focus

Thea Krokan Murud leading the pack at the World Cup in Lillehammer on December 2. Photo: Nordic Focus

What are your goals for the 2017-18 season?
“My overall goal for the season was to ski fast in the Scandinavian Cup races and do well at the Norwegian National Championships in January. But now that I was suddenly picked for the international World Cup events in Davos and Toblach, my goal changed a bit. I wanted to ski fast at those World Cups, but of course I still want to ski fast at the nationals and in the Scandinavian Cups too.”

What is the ultimate career goal, and how far off do you think that is?
“I want to earn a medal for Norway at the Olympics. The best skiers in the world are really fast, but after these World Cups, I don’t feel like it’s off limits. However, I have to be patient. I have a lot of areas to improve on, both in terms of technique, strength and pure capacity. That’s what makes this so motivating.”

While the Davos World Cup races on December 9 and 10 were Murud’s first international World Cups, Murud is not entirely new to international racing. In January 2017, she won the silver medal in the classic sprint competition at the FIS U23 World Championships in Soldier Hollow, Utah (USA), and at the Lillehammer World Cup races on December 2nd she was 10th in the classic sprint.

Name: Thea Krokan Murud
Birthday: 6. juni 1994
Club: Søre Ål IL
Team: Team Veidekke Innlandet
World Cup starts: 8
Top World Cup result: 10 (klassisk sprint på Lillehammer 2.desember 2017)
Other internatonal results: Silver at the FIS U23 World Championships i Soldier Hollow (Utah) USA (January 31, 2017)
First World Cup start: Classic sprint in Drammen (NOR) on March 11, 2015

“I felt amazing today”

Heidi Weng (NOR) in front of Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR), during the 10km pursuit in Toblach (ITA). Photo: Nordic Focus
Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) was 2nd in the classic pursuit at the FIS world cup in Toblach (ITA). Photo: Nordic Focus

Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) was 2nd in the classic pursuit in Toblach (ITA). Photo: Nordic Focus

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) moved up from sixth to second place in the classic pursuit in Toblach.

“It was a great team effort from the Norwegian team. I had great skis and my fitness is exactly where it should be for this time of the season. I was a little bit upset that I didn’t ski according to plan yesterday, so today was great,” says Østberg.

After winning the 10km in Davos last weekend, Østberg had a rough start in Toblach and was sixth in the 10km skate race on Saturday. But despite starting the 10km classic pursuit 29 seconds behind, moved up to an impressive second place.

Heidi Weng (NOR) opened the final World Cup weekend before Christmas with was third in the 10km skate at the FIS World Cup in Toblach (ITA) on Saturday, and was excited to post another World Cup podium, her seventh consecutive this season.

“I’m satisfied with my performance today. I’ve always had a hard time on this course. The last few kilometers today were really tough, and I felt like I could hardly move, but the result proves that I can keep up with the best, despite all the problems. I can build on that,” Weng said after the skate race.

On Sunday, she maintained her podium spot after a solid classic race and finished the 10km classic pursuit in third place.

Østberg and Weng go into the FIS Tour de Ski in second and third place respectively, in the overall World Cup. Additionally, Weng is second overall in the distance World Cup.

Heidi Weng (NOR) in front of Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR), during the 10km pursuit in Toblach (ITA). Photo: Nordic Focus

Heidi Weng (NOR) in front of Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR), during the 10km pursuit in Toblach (ITA). Photo: Nordic Focus

Three double podiums

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) earned her first World Cup podium for the season when she won the 10km skate race in Davos (SUI) on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus
Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) earned her first World Cup podium for the season when she won the 10km skate race in Davos (SUI) on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) earned her first World Cup podium for the season when she won the 10km skate race in Davos (SUI) on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Madshus racers dominate both the biathlon and cross-country World Cup competitions on Sunday.

First, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) earn her first World Cup victory of the season, winning the 10-kilometer skate race in Davos (SUI) by five seconds.

“A race like this is what I train for every day of the year. I started out conservatively, and I really had no idea I was skiing all that fast, but the coaches kept telling me I as ahead. This was a fantastic day for me, and Davos is my favorite World Cup venue,” Østberg said after the race.

Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN) snagged the last podium spot, her second World Cup podium this season.

The next FIS World Cup races take place in Toblach (ITA) on December 16-17.

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Ole Einar Bjoerndalen skied the first leg for Norway at the IBU World Cup relay in Hochfilzen (AUT) on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen skied the first leg for Norway at the IBU World Cup relay in Hochfilzen (AUT) on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

At the IBU Biathlon World Cup relay, Ole Einar Bjørndalen helped Norway to a spectacular victory. The Norwegian team won by a 2-minute margin in the challenging conditions in Hochfilzen (AUT). Benedikt Doll skied the second leg for Germany, who was second after beating France by 40 seconds.

In the women’s relay, Vanessa Hinz skied the first leg for Germany and laid the foundation for first place, while Anais Bescond anchored France to third place.

The IBU World Cup now moves on to Annecy (FRA) on Dec 14 to 17 for the final round before Christmas.

Vanessa Hinz helped Germany to first place in the IBU World Cup relay in Hochfilzen (AUT) on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Vanessa Hinz helped Germany to first place in the World Cup relay in Hochfilzen (AUT). Photo: Nordic Focus

Solid World Cup Opener

Vanessa Hinz helped Germany to 2nd place in the single mixed relay at the IBU biathlon World Cup in Östersund (SWE). Photo: Nordic Focus

Madshus racers posted several podiums in the cross-country and biathlon World Cup openers, as well as Ski Classics.

Benedikt Doll helped Germany to 3rd place in the mixed relay at the IBU biathlon world Cup in Östersund (SWE). Photo: Nordic Focus

Benedikt Doll helped Germany to 3rd place in the mixed relay at the IBU biathlon world Cup in Östersund (SWE). Photo: Nordic Focus

At the FIS Cross-Country World Cup opener in Ruka (FIN), Pål Golberg (NOR) opened the 2017-18 season the same way as last year: on the podium. For Golberg, the second place finish in the classic sprint on Friday was important, as the classic sprint is one of the events on the schedule at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang (KOR) in February.

Now, he is looking forward to the next World Cup sprint, which takes place on his home turf in Lillehammer on Saturday. “I’ve been thinking about the upcoming World Cup sprint ever since I broke a pole at the start of the sprint race in Lillehammer a year ago,” Golberg says.

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Pål Golberg (NOR) was 2nd in the classic sprint in Ruka on Friday. Photo: NordicFocus

Pål Golberg (NOR) was 2nd in the classic sprint in Ruka on Friday. Photo: NordicFocus

On Saturday, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) was third in the 10-kilometer classic race, the second stage of the mini-tour in Ruka.

“I am really happy with my third place and I had a strong finish. The conditions were not easy, so the plan was to start carefully and stay in control,” she said after her race.

While Heidi Weng (NOR) and Hans-Christer Holund (NOR) didn’t make the podium at the final stage of the minitour in Finland, they posted the second and third fastest times, respectively, for the skate races on Sunday, which secured them several points in the overall FIS World Cup.

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Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) was 2nd in the 10km classic at the FIS world cup in Ruka (FIN) on Saturday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) at the 10km classic in Ruka (FIN) on Saturday. Photo: Nordic Focus

On Sunday, the 2017-18 IBU biathlon World Cup opened with both single mix relay and conventional mixed relay in Österssund (SWE). Vanessa Hinz helps Germany to second place in single mixed relay, the first event at the IBU biathlon World Cup opener in Östersund (SWE). Afterward, Benedikt Doll helped Germany to third place in the mixed relay.

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Vanessa Hinz helped Germany to 2nd place in the single mixed relay at the IBU biathlon World Cup in Östersund (SWE). Photo: Nordic Focus

Vanessa Hinz helped Germany to 2nd place in the single mixed relay at the IBU biathlon World Cup in Östersund (SWE). Photo: Nordic Focus

Sunday also marked the start of the 2017-18 Ski Classics marathon series with the 12-kilometer Pro Team Prologue in Switzerland. Team Lager 157 (SWE) won the team competition, placing four racers among the top six men, including Madshus racer Fredrik Byström (SWE) in second place.

Madshus racers also placed fifth with Simen Østensen (NOR) from Team BN Bank, sixth with Jimmie Johnson (SWE) from Lager 157, seventh with Stian Hoelgaard (NOR) from Team Koteng and tenth with Marcus Johansson (SWE) from Lager 157.

In the women’s prologue, Astrid Øyre Slind (NOR) from Team Koteng was second. After the first of the season’s 11 events, Lager 157 is in first place overall, and Team Koteng in second.

Lager 157 won the Pro Team Prologue, which was the first event in the 2017-18 Ski Classics marathon series. Photo: Magnus Östh

Lager 157 won the Pro Team Prologue,  the first event in the 2017-18 Ski Classics series. Photo: Magnus Östh

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