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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

The Season is ON

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen at the Blink Summer Ski Festival 2012. Photo: Blink
Ole Einar Bjoerndalen at the Blink Summer Ski Festival 2012. Photo: Blink

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen at the Blink Summer Ski Festival 2012. Photo: Blink

The Blink Summer Ski Festival features the strongest biathlon field ever in the history of the event, as well as a solid international field for the XC events.

Madshus biathletes Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and Emil Hegle Svendsen will face the toughest racers in the world at the annual Blink Summer Ski Festival in Sandnes, Norway, July 30-August 1, which is featuring the strongest field ever.

2015 marks the 10th anniversary for the Blink Summer Ski Festival, and last year, the uphill time trial that kicks off the event drew more than 700 racers. This year, World Cup racers from France, Japan, Great Britain, Poland, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Russia, Canada and Germany are registered for the races, in addition to Norway.

French Martin Fourcade (FRA) is bringing the entire French national team to the races, Arndt Pfeiffer and Daniel Böhm of Germany as well as North American racers Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke and Nathan Smith are also on the start list. The biathlon program includes shooting duels and mass starts for men and women on July 31, and super sprint races on August 1.

For the Norwegian biathletes, the Blink Ski Festival is a part of the national team season preparations, gearing up for the 2016 IBU World Championships on home turf in Oslo March 3-13, 2016.

Complete start list biathlon

In addition to the biathlon competitions, there are several cross-country races as well. The uphill time trial Lysebotn Opp features a grueling 7.5-kilometer course with a total of 640 meters elevation gain. Many of the biathletes also race in the uphill time trial, adding depth to the already impressive field of XC skiers.

Also, there are two other XC races at the Blink Festival: a mass start distance race for the cross-country skiers, featuring 10km skate for women and 15km skate for men on July 31, as well as sprint races in Sandnes city center on August 1. Madshus racers Heidi Weng (NOR), Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR), Krista Parmakoski (FIN), Barbro Kvaale (NOR) and Oeystein Pettersen (NOR) are among the favorites on the start lists.

Complete start list XC

More about the 2015 Blink Summer Ski Festival 

Lysebotn Opp race course. Photo: NSF

Lysebotn Opp race course. Photo: NSF

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