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Sweeping up the Points

Ole Einar Bjørndalen won the IBU World Cup opener in Östersund, Sweden on December 2. Photo: NordicFocus
Ole Einar Bjørndalen won the IBU World Cup opener in Östersund, Sweden on December 2. Photo: NordicFocus

Ole Einar Bjørndalen won the IBU World Cup opener in Östersund, Sweden on December 2. Photo: NordicFocus

Weekend loot: 12 WC podiums, 3 Ski Classics podiums and the yellow jersey in the long-distance series.

For starters, The King of biathlon is back.

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR), who enters his 23 World Cup season, left no doubt: The King started the 2016 season on the top of the podium after the 20km at the IBU World Cup in Östersund (SWE) on December 2. In January 1996, he won his first WC. In between those two victories, there have been around 92 more.

And after more than two decades on the World Cup, the 41-year-old takes time to reflect on the changes and developments in his sport. Read the full interview HERE.

The seasoned veteran is known to constantly seek out new insights and research on everything from training and equipment to diet and lifestyle, just to gain that split second margin that separates the winner from the rest of the field.

However, in the first World Cup race of his 23rd World Cup season, Bjørndalen won by more than a split hair. He didn’t miss a single target. He skied like a tornado with perfect technique milking each glide and getting the most from every push-off. At the end of the day, Bjørndalen had almost half a minute down to second place.

On Saturday, he was back on the podium, this time in third place in sprint competition.

“Biathlon is biathlon; it was a really good race today. It was a lot of stress after the 20K with all of the publicity, but I had no problem with motivation. I was really lucky to hit four; it was a combination of luck and experience,” Bjørndalen said after his race on Saturday.

However, he remained in the yellow leader jersey for the Sunday pursuit, but had to give it up after the final race in Östersud. But that doesn’t bother him. Bjørndalen reemphasizes that his focus is the 2016 World Championships in Oslo in March.

“I am only focused on Oslo, not the total World Cup score.”

Now, the IBU World Cup heads for round 2 in Hochfilzen (AUS) next weekend with sprint, pursuit and relay competitions for both men and women.

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 Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR) during the 20km IBU world cup in Östersund on December 2. Photo: NordicFocus


Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR) during the 20km IBU world cup in Östersund on December 2. Photo: NordicFocus

The cross-country World Cup moved to Lillehammer (NOR) this weekend, featuring 15- and 30-kilometer pursuit races for women and men, respectively.

Hans Christer Holund (NOR), who surprised everyone including himself with two podiums in a row at the FIS season opener at Beitostølen (NOR) in November, posted his first World Cup podium finish with a strong third place on the brutal course on Saturday.

“It is my first podium. It is like a dream come true for me,” Holund said of his first WC podium.

“The race was hard from the first lap. The course is really hard. I was a little afraid of the chasing group coming up from behind, so I tried to ski as fast as I could, so that they wouldn’t catch us. On the last hill, I knew I did it,” Holund said of the 15km+15km duathlon/pursuit.

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Hans Christer Holund (NOR) during the WC duathlon in Lillehammer on Dec.5. Photo: Nordic Focus

Hans Christer Holund (NOR) during the WC duathlon in Lillehammer on Dec.5. Photo: Nordic Focus

 

Also on Saturday, Heidi Weng (NOR) delivered a solid second place after winning the sprint finish with Charlotte Kalla (SWE) in the women’s 7.5km+7.5km duathlon/pursuit.

“I felt very good in classical part. In the skate portion I got stiff, but I tried to fight. I kept focused on the second place. It was very hard to ski with Charlotte,” Weng said after her race.

Given her strong performances so far this season and proven sprint capacity, Weng was appointed to anchor the Norwegian women in the 4x5km relay on Sunday – a job that so far has belonged to Marit Bjørgen. And Weng didn’t disappoint, anchoring Norway to a 2-minute victory, while Ingvild Flugstad Østberg skied a solid second leg for the same team. Krista Parmakoski (Madshus) helped Finland to 2nd place.

In the men’s relay, Hans Christer Holund helped Norway I to victory in the men’s 4×7.5km relay – ahead of two other Norwegian teams. Madshus racers Simen Sveen and Mathias Rundgreen helped their team to 2nd place, and Didrik Tønseth was on the 3rd place team.

The cross-country World Cup now moves to Davos (SUI).

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 Heidi Weng (NOR) in front of Charlotte Kalla (SWE) during at the WC duathlon in Lillehammer on Dec. 5. Photo: Nordic Focus


Heidi Weng (NOR) in front of Charlotte Kalla (SWE) during at the WC duathlon in Lillehammer on Dec. 5. Photo: Nordic Focus

This weekend also marked the start of the 2016 Ski Classics long-distance season: Team United Bakeries with Madshus marathon racers Johan Kjølstad, Øystein Pettersen, Tore B. Berdal and John Kristian Dahl set the stage for the season by winning the Team Prologue in Livigno (ITA) by more than a half minute! United Bakeries posted the combined time for the 15-kilometer team time trial 2:16:09. This event consisted of a mass start for women and a team tempo for men. The best female time was added to a pro team’s third best skier’s time, which was multiplied by three.

On Sunday, Dahl (NOR) went straight to the top of the podium in the first individual long-distance race of the season, winning the 24-km classic race La Sgambeda in Livigno by 8 seconds, with Eugeny Dementiev (RUS) in 2nd place and Johan Kjølstad (NOR) in 3rd.

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Team United Bakeries won the Proteam Prologue, which was the first event in the 2016 Ski Classics. Photo: Ski Classics

Team United Bakeries won the Proteam Prologue, which was the first event in the 2016 Ski Classics. Photo: Ski Classics

The FIS Nordic Combined skiers finally had a chance to start their 2016 FIS World Cup season, after their first competitions last week in Finland were cancelled. Magnus Krog (NOR), who opened his season by winning the Norwegian national championships at Beitostølen on November 14, won the large hill/10km World Cup competition on Sunday.

 

A Solid Start to the 2016 Season

Hans Christer Holund (NOR)
Hans Christer Holund (NOR)

Hans Christer Holund (NOR)

Madshus racers posted five podium finishes and a good number of strong performances during the FIS season opener in Beitostølen (NOR).

Heidi Weng (NOR) was second in the women’s 7.5-kilometer classic race on Friday. Hans Christer Holund (NOR) started his first season on the Norwegian national team with two podiums in a row: Third place in the 15-km classic on Friday, and second place in the 15-km skate on Saturday. Finally, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) and Pål Golberg (NOR) were second and third, respectively, in the classic sprint competitions on Sunday.

Complete results from the Beitostølen season opener 

“It was really fun to be on the podium today after skiing fast enough to be on the podium, not because someone faster than me was disqualified,” said Holund after the skate race on Saturday.

And although there was a 47-second gap up to Martin Johnsrud Sundby, who won 15-kilometer skate race, Holund is satisfied with his season opener.

“Martin (Johnsrud Sundby) is in a league of his own. I have never been even close to him in skate or classic. For me, it was great to feel that my body felt good and that I am able to ski fast again,” Holund said.

During an altitude camp with the national team recently in Val Senales, Italy, Holund was evacuated off the glacier during a workout. Holund felt weak even at the start of the workout, and it just got worse. Suddenly, he was gasping for air and struggling to stay conscious. He was airlifted to the hospital and underwent a battery of tests. Ultimately, doctors could not find anything wrong.

“I have to take their word for it, but I’m still curious given that it happened so suddenly and during an easy workout rather than while doing intervals,” Holund said to Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. But Holund admits that it was a scary experience.

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Hans Christer Holund during the 15-kilometer skate race at Beitostølen on Saturday.

Hans Christer Holund during the 15-kilometer skate race at Beitostølen on Saturday.

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) opened the ski season with an impressive statement of her dryland training effort: She skied the women’s 7.5-kilometer course entirely without kick wax, and cruised into an impressive fifth place, as one of only four women opting for no kick.

“I am glad I did it and tried it. It was a combination of peer pressure and my own curiosity. It kind of feels like people wanted to sacrifice me to see if it could be done, and I had a chance to show that it is possible (to double-pole the whole course). It would have been even more fun if I could have been a few seconds faster and made it to the podium,” Østberg said, admitting that it was a spur of the moment decision.

At the very last minute before her start, she grabbed the skate skis and headed out.

“I don’t regret going all double-pole, but there were a couple of places on the course where I really would have loved to have some kick. I am a fan of traditional diagonal striding so I don’t really know why I did this. But it was kind of fun too,” the 25-year-old said after the race.

For the skate race the next day, Østberg commented that she was a bit more tired than expected and sore different places than normal, but despite the toll on her And by the end og the weekend, she moved on to the podium placing second in the classic sprint on Sunday.

Will she ditch the kick wax again?

“Maybe. But I doubt I will do this again in Kuusamo (at the FIS World Cup opener the last weekend in November). If I do, I am stupid,” she said with a big grin.

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Østberg Beito 680x

Heidi Weng opened her season with a strong second place in the 7.5-kilometer classic on Friday, and a fifth place in the skate race on the same course on Saturday.

Finally, Pål Golberg (NOR) was third in the classic sprint on Sunday, after leading the final heat most of the way through the course.

Furthermore, Oestberg, Weng and Golberg are all skiers who are known to race themselves into shape, so the season opener weekend was a strong statement of what’s to come.

No doubt, the skiers are looking forward to the 2016 FIS World Cup, which gets underway with a mini-tour in Kuusamo, Finland, November 27-29. Let the season begin!

Eyes on the Tour

Heidi Weng (NOR) on her way to the finish line up Alpe Cermis, the final stage of the 2015 Tour de Ski in Val di Fiemme, Italy (ITA). Photo: Nordic Focus.com.

Heidi Weng (NOR) on her way to the finish line up Alpe Cermis, the final stage of the 2015 Tour de Ski in Val di Fiemme, Italy (ITA). Photo: Nordic Focus.com.

The tenth edition of the FIS Tour de Ski will take place in January, and in a year with no major championships, the Tour will be one of the top highlights of the season.

Madshus racer Heidi Weng (NOR) is excited for the Tour, and hopes to improve on last season’s success that landed her third place in the overall Tour de Ski rankings 2015.

“Tour de Ski is a huge goal for me this season, and I hope to deliver a lot of good races there, every day during the Tour,”  Weng says.

“And I’m still chasing my first overall World Cup victory. I have several second and third places, but I really want a first place now,” says the ambitious 24-year-old.

The Tour de Ski Saga
The story goes that the ski tour concept started in a sauna near Oslo (NOR) more than a decade ago. FIS Cross-Country Committee Chair Vegard Ulvang and former FIS Cross-Country Race Director Jürg Capol were arguing who was the best skier in the world. Was it a distance skier, a sprinter, or an all-rounder in both techniques?

Combining all competition formats and techniques into a stage World Cup, with the iconic Alpe Cermis Final Climb as the last stage, the Tour de Ski concept was born. Ten years after the foundation of the Tour, it is the biggest event on the FIS Cross-Country World Cup calendar.

The 2015/16 season marks the 10th anniversary of the FIS Tour de Ski.

Tour de Ski 10th Edition: Facts and Figures

  • Total competition distance 65 km for ladies and 106 km for men
  • Grand total prize money CHF 640,000 will be paid out during eight days for both genders
  • The overall winner will take home CHF 100,000
  • The winner of each stage gets CHF 3,000
  • The current leader of the Tour wins CHF 1,000
  • The winner of the FIS Tour de Ski sprint ranking will be awarded with CHF 6,000
  • 400 World Cup points for the FIS Tour de Ski overall winner, 50 World Cup points for the stage victory
  • 255 bonus seconds for ladies, 300 bonus seconds for men

Moving in on the Podium

Heidi Weng on her way to the finish at Fonna Opp last Thursday. Photo: Toppidrettsveka

Heidi Weng on her way to the finish at Fonna Opp last Thursday. Photo: Toppidrettsveka

Heidi Weng dominated from start to finish at Toppidrettsveka (NOR) last weekend.

Weng (NOR) took home three out of four victories as well as a second place, while fellow Madshus racer Didrik Toenseth (NOR) bagged one victory and one second-place finish. The annual international endurance- and roller ski festival routinely attracts a race field worthy of a World Cup to the Northwest coast of Norway.

Weng started out her run for the podium with a second place in the uphill running race “Fonna Opp” on Thursday morning, a brutal hill climb featuring almost 650 meters elevation gain over 5.3 kilometers. Then she continued the day with winning the roller ski sprint in the afternoon.

On Friday, Weng won the roller ski duathlon, and on Saturday, she capped off the race weekend with a third victory as she won the pursuit.

Toenseth opened his three-day race weekend by winning the uphill running race on Thursday morning, and then capped off his race week with a second place in the pursuit on Saturday.

Additionally, Madshus racers Noah Hoffman (USA) was third in the uphill running race, and Barbro Kvaale (NOR) was third in the roller ski sprint on Thursday.

Complete results for all events at Toppidrettsveka 

The roller ski pursuit in Trondheim was the final event at Toppidrettsveka 2015. Photo: Toppidrettsveka

The roller ski pursuit in Trondheim was the final event at Toppidrettsveka 2015. Photo: Toppidrettsveka

Cashed in at Blink

Barbro Kvaale (NOR) won the 10k mass start and the sprint at the 2015 Blink Summer Ski Festival. Photo: Blink
Barbro Kvaale (NOR) won the 10k mass start and the sprint at the 2015 Blink Summer Ski Festival. Photo: Blink

Barbro Kvaale (NOR) won the 10k mass start and the sprint at the 2015 Blink Summer Ski Festival. Photo: Blink

Madshus athletes have not been wasting their summer. At the Blink Summer Ski Festival in Sandnes, Norway, this weekend, they swept up the awards across the board.

Heidi Weng set the stage with a blowout victory in the brutal uphill roller ski race Lysebotn Opp on Thursday afternoon.

Complete results Lysebotn Opp

On Friday, Madshus cross-country skier Barbro Kvaale (NOR) followed Weng’s example: Kvaale collected all the preems and the overall victory in the mass start.

Complete results women 10k mass start

On Saturday, Kvaale kept it up, winning the sprint race from start to finish. She won her quarterfinal and her semifinal, and then cruised solo into victory in the final in one of the most competitive fields in the history of the Blink Festival.

Complete results sprint

The Blink Summer Ski Festival celebrated its 10 anniversary this year. Next year, the festival expands to four days, adding a long-distance classic race that will be a part of the new World Classic Tour.

Heidi Weng left everyone far behind as she paraded into victory on the uphill race Lysebotn Opp during the 2015 Blink Summer Ski Festival. Photo: Blink

Heidi Weng left everyone far behind as she paraded into victory on the uphill race Lysebotn Opp during the 2015 Blink Summer Ski Festival. Photo: Blink

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