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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.

 

On Track from the Start

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR). Photo: Nordic Focus
Heidi Weng (NOR) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) during the 10km pursuit on Sunday. Photo: NordicFocus

Heidi Weng (NOR) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) during the 10km pursuit on Sunday. Photo: NordicFocus

Madshus athletes opened the World Cup season right where they left off last spring: On the podium.

Madshus racers went straight for the World Cup podium on the first opportunity across the board: Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) was third in the overall World Cup mini tour in Ruka (FIN), after delivering strong performances in the distance events as well as the sprint.

Heidi Weng (NOR) was third in the sprint, third overall in the mini tour after the first two stages and started the Sunday pursuit race only 4.9 seconds behind the leader.

However, the pursuit took a dramatic turn toward the end: Weng fought her way to ninth place overall despite losing track of her laps, which caused her to assume she was done one lap short of the finish. She literally collapsed across the line, only to discover she had one more lap to go. Weng mustered all available courage and energy, got up, chased the pack and hauled into an impressive top 10 finish.

“I’m the biggest idiot in the world sometimes. At the time, I just wanted to dig myself into the snow and take my skis off. I thought I was at least five minutes behind. But I decided to continue and make the best of it. And it wasn’t a disaster after all,” Weng said to reporters after the race.

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Heidi Wend (NOR) during the final pursuit in the World Cup mini tour in Ruka (FIN). Photo: NordicFocus

Heidi Wend (NOR) during the final pursuit in the World Cup mini tour in Ruka (FIN). Photo:
NordicFocus

Noteworthy: Pål Golberg (NOR) posted the fastest qualifier time in the classic sprint in Ruka (FIN) on Friday, the very first World Cup competition of the 2016 season. However, Golberg fell in the quarterfinal and didn’t advance to subsequent heats.

Madshus racers also posted two of the three fastest qualifier times in the women’s sprint: Østberg posted the second fastest and Weng the third fastest time. In the final, they were fourth and sixth respectively. The FIS Word Cup continues in Lillehammer (NOR) this coming weekend.

Complete results FIS World Cup

In the first 2016 IBU World Cup, Madshus biathlete Benedikt Doll helped Germany to second place in the mixed relay in Östersund (SWE) on Sunday. The IBU World Cup in Östersund continues with individual competitions Wednesday through Sunday.

Also, Madshus biathletes Bente Landheim (NOR), Erlend Bjøntegaard (NOR) and Erling Aalvik (NOR) claimed their first podiums of the season at the IBU Cup in Idre (SWE), with first, second and third place respectively in the Sunday sprint races.

Complete results IBU World Cup and IBU Cup

Benedikt Doll (GER) helped Germany to 2nd place in the mixed relay at the IBU World Cup in Östersund (SWE): Photo: NordicFocus.

Benedikt Doll (GER) helped Germany to 2nd place in the mixed relay at the IBU World Cup in Östersund (SWE). Photo: NordicFocus

Ready to Rumble

Sjusjøen is ready for the biathlon season opener and this weekend features a start list worthy of a World Cup. Photo: NSSF

Sjusjøen is ready for the biathlon season opener and this weekend features a start list worthy of a World Cup. Photo: NSSF

The biathletes are getting their show on the road with season opener competitions in Sjusjøen (NOR) this weekend and a start list worthy of a World Cup.

Although the IBU World Cup doesn’t get underway until Dec 1, when the first round takes place in Östersund (SWE), the start lists for the upcoming weekend races in Sjusjøen (NOR) are packed with World-Cup athletes itching to see where they stack up after a long dryland season. There are racers from the German, French, Italian and several other national teams on the rosters, along with all of Norway’s national teams and elite athletes.

However, Ole Einar Bjørndalen (NOR) is planning to skip Saturday’s sprint after recently returning from altitude. His main focus is the World Championships on home turf in Holmenkollen, March 3-13, and everything prior to that is practice for the main goal. Being sidelined by injury and illness for much of the dryland season, Bjørndalen plays it safe with the first race weekend of the season, and sits out the first event on Saturday.

“I have bad experiences with burning too much fuel right after an altitude camp. So I try to cool my jets now in order to race fast at the World Cup opener in Östersund,” Bjørndalen said to NRK.

Bjørndalen is planning to race the Sunday mass start at Sjusjøen.

Saturday, November 21, features sprint competitions for both men and women, followed by mass start races on Sunday, November 22. The events will be televised by Norwegian broadcaster NRK, and there is also free access to the stadium for all spectators.

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR) will compete in the mass start on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR) will compete in the mass start on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Medals and Podiums by the Bucket

 

 

Barbro Kvaale (NOR) won both gold and silver medals at the 2015 FIS U23 World Championships in Almaty (KAZ) this weekend. Photo: FIS

 

Madshus racers shine in both the short and the long runs, bagging hardware and podiums both at the U23 World Championships and the IBU Biathlon World Cup.

 

At the U23 World Championships in Alamaty, Kazakhstan, Madshus cross-country skier Barbro Kvaale (NOR) sweeps up the medals. On Thursday, Kvaale earned the gold medal in the women’s 10km freestyle event, and continued with silver in the 7.5km+7.5km skiathlon on Saturday.

 

Kvaale also placed 7th in the opening classic sprint on Tuesday.

 

Straight to the Podium on First Attempt
Madshus biathlete Marte Olsbu helped Norway to second place in the first-ever single mixed relay World Cup this weekend.

 

The single mixed relay brings a new dimension to the sport for both the teams and fans.

 

“We wanted to present one more team event where nations with only one good male and female athlete could have a strong chance for top rankings,” said Borut Nunar, who is the IBU World Cup Race Director.

 

A team consists of a woman and a man, with the woman skiing 6K and the man skiing 7.5K.

 

“This is an attractive, short biathlon competition, with short loops and each athlete shooting four times,” Nunar said.

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Marte Olsbu helped Norway to 2nd place in the very first IBU World Cup single mixed relay on Friday. Photo: Nordic Focus

 

The format for the new relay competition is as follows:
Each team competing in the single mixed relay is comprised of one woman and one man.

 

The woman starts and after shooting both prone and standing tags off to the man in a hand-over area located just after the penalty loop. The male competitor then shoots both prone and standing and tags off to the same woman again. Each competitor on the team completes four bouts of shooting and the associated ski loops.

 

After the final bout of shooting by the male competitor he skis the 1.5 km course and goes to the finish.

 

Lapped competitors will be stopped when they pass the penalty loop timing point after being lapped. The penalty loop for this competition is 75 meters in length. All other rules and procedures for relays apply to the single mixed relay.

 

Pre-Worlds next
The IBU World Cup now moves to Holmenkollen (NOR) for the next World Cup round. This event also serves as the Pre-World Championships, as Holmenkollen is hosting the 2016 IBU World Championships next year.

 

Madshus biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR) is sitting out this week’s races in favor of training at altitude, which is a step to prepare for the 2015 IBU World Championships in Kontiolahti (FIN) on March 3-15. Both Bjoerndalen and fellow Madshus biathlete Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR) are preselected for the Norwegian National team squad racing at the IBU World Championships in Finland.

 

 

Svendsen Went to War

 

Madshus racer Emil Hegle “Super-Svendsen” (NOR) anchored Norway to victory again – the second time in a row – in the World Cup 4×7,5km in Anterselva, Italy, on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

 

Aggressive attitude secured first place to Norway and Madshus in the men’s 4×7.5km World Cup biathlon relay in Anterselva, Italy, on Sunday.

 

Emil Hegle Super-Svendsen anchored the team to another World Cup victory, and Norway is two for two in the relay. Last week, Svendsen also anchored the team to relay victory in Rupholding, Germany.

 

Svendsen didn’t miss a single target, despite at times challenging conditions, and skied like he had the Devil on his tails. He had seen rival Simon Schempp (GER) win enough lately.

 

“I decided to go out aggressively and go to war. He has won three times in a row now, and that’s enough. I decided to pay him no respect and just go for it. That turned out to be the ticket today,” Svendsen said with a huge grin.

 

“This was perfect after a week of so-so. It shows that we are back on a winning track,” he said.

 

Veteran Madshus racer and the most winning winter athlete to date, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, raced the first leg for Norway. Norway won the relay clocking in at 1:15:36.7, 16 seconds ahead of Germany in second place. France was third.

Complete results

 

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