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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

What a way to start the season

Hans Christer Holund was twice on the podium in equally many attempts in the season opener at Beitostølen this weekend. Photo: Geir Olsen

Madshus racers posted seven podiums at the Norwegian cross-country and biathlon season opener events this weekend.

Marte Olsbu (NOR) won the biathlon mass start at Sjusjøen (NOR) on Sunday, with Anaïs Bescond (FRA) in second place.

“It was really fun. I did exactly what I set out to do and it worked,” Olsbu said after her race.

Olsbu became the first Norwegian woman to ever win the season opener in Sjusjøen.

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Marte Olsbu (NOR) won the season opener at Sjusjøen on Sunday. File photo: Nordic Focus

Marte Olsbu (NOR) won the season opener at Sjusjøen on Sunday. File photo: Nordic Focus

Heidi Weng and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg were second and third, respectively, at the 10km classic race that opened the Beitostølen season opener in Norway on Friday morning.

“It felt really good but very painful at the same time, almost unusually painful. But it was really fun to race again and go really hard,” Østberg said after her first race of the season.

Weng admits that she was nervous before the start, but relieved to finish second.

“I didn’t feel like I skied super fast up the hills, and I never thought I would be on the podium today, so I’m super excited about the race. It was really fun, and I’m really happy to be back in the racing again,” she said.

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Heidi Weng was second in the 10km classic race at Beitostølen on Friday. Foto: Geir Olsen

Heidi Weng was second in the 10km classic race at Beitostølen on Friday. Foto: Geir Olsen

In the afternoon Hans Christer Holund finished third in the men’s 15km classic. The young Madshus racer Johan Hoel finished fifth after leading much of the race and impressed both fellow racers and the experts.

“This is by far the best race I’ve done at Beitostølen ever. I feel like I have a lot to prove after a bad season last year, and hope to be a part of the mix when the national team is naming the 2018 Winter Olympics team,” Hoel said to reporters after his race.

Holund was content with his third place in the first event of the season.

“My main focus for this season is to race well at the World Cup and secure a spot on the Olympic team. In order to do that, I need to race well from the start, so these races are important,” explained Holund, who followed up with second place in the 15km skate race on Sunday.

Weng also concluded her weekend with another podium on Sunday. She was third in the 10km skate race.

Hans Christer Holund was twice on the podium in equally many attempts in the season opener at Beitostølen this weekend. Photo: Geir Olsen

Hans Christer Holund was twice on the podium in equally many attempts in the season opener at Beitostølen this weekend. Photo: Geir Olsen

 

“First place feels really special”

Benedikt Doll (GER) hauled into gold in the sprint on Saturday. Photo: Nordic Focus

The World Cup season is just around the corner. These are some of the racers to keep an eye on this winter.

Benedikt Doll (GER) hauled into gold in the sprint on Saturday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Benedikt Doll (GER) hauled into gold in the sprint at the 2017 IBU World Championships. Photo: Nordic Focus

Biathlon
Benedikt Doll (GER)
– the ambitious German from Titisee-Neustadt earned the gold in the sprint at the 2017 World Championships in Hochfilzen (Austria) in February, with a 0.7 second margin. This was his first individual World Championships gold medal, and only the third time in his entire career that Doll shot clean.

“It’s amazing. It’s unreal. First place feels really special,” Doll said to reporters after his race.

Doll also helped Germany to silver in the relay at the 2016 World Championships in Holmenkollen (Norway), and has several World Cup podiums and Junior World Championship medals.

Marte Olsbu (NOR) – the 26-year-old from Froland anchored Norway to gold in relay at the 2016 World Championships in Holmenkollen (Norway), and also helped Norway to the bronze medal in the mixed relay at the same championships. Olsbu comes into the season as the reigning Norwegian champion in the mass start event as well as the in summer biathlon, and eager to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang (South Korea) in February.

The 2018 IBU Biathlon World Cup opens with a full round of races in Lillehammer(NOR) November 22-26.

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Marte Olsbu (NOR) is aiming for the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. Photo: Nordic Focus

Marte Olsbu (NOR) is aiming for the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. Photo: Nordic Focus

Cross-country
Hans Christer Holund (NOR)
– a stayer at the World Cup level, the 28-year-old had his breakthrough at the international level in the 2016 season, posting several World-Cup podium finishes. Last season, he injured his shoulder in the final weeks prior to the season, but still managed to come back in time for the World Cup. This season, Holund has his eyes set on the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang (South Korea) in February. In July, he won the brutal uphill rollerski race Lysebotn Opp by a full minute, leaving the entire World Cup elite in the dust.

Hans Christer Holund (NOR) was 3rd in the 15km classic at the FIS World Cup in Otepaeae (EST). Photo: Nordic Focus

Hans Christer Holund (NOR) is coming off a flying World Cup season and going for more. Photo: Nordic Focus

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Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) – the strong all-round racer from Gjøvik, hardly needs further introduction. Performing in both distance and sprint races, Østberg has earned multiple World Cup podiums since her first appearance on the international circuit in November 2008. At the 2014 Olympics in Sochi (RUS), she helped Norway to gold in the team sprint and earned a silver medal in the sprint event. At the 2015 World Championships in Falun (SWE), she again helped Norway to gold in the team sprint. She was third in the overall 2017 World Cup, and with a total of 48 World Cup podiums and 105 top-10-finishes.

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Madshus dominated the Tour de Ski podium in Val Mustair (SUI) after the 5km classic mass start race: Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (center) won, with Heidi Weng (left) in 2nd place and Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN) in 3rd place. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (center), with Heidi Weng (left) and Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN) during the 2017 Tour de Ski in Val Müstair (SUI). Photo: Nordic Focus

Liz Stephen (USA) – New on the Madshus team this season, the 30-year-old from Vermont is known throughout the racing community as one of the best climbers in the world. She has been a part of the US Ski Team since 2007, and was a part of the 2010 and 2014 U.S. Olympic team, as well as the U.S. World Championship teams in 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015.

“I’m really excited to be on Madshus this season,” says Stephen, who is aiming for her third Olympics with the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang (South Korea).

The 2018 FIS World Cup season opens with a mini tour in Ruka (Finland) on November 24.

Liz Stephen (USA) at the World Cup/Pre-OLympics in, Pyeong Chang (KOR). Photo: NordicFocus

Liz Stephen (USA) at the World Cup/Pre-OLympics in, Pyeong Chang (KOR). Photo: NordicFocus

Ready for World Cup-Level Racing in July

Heidi Weng at Lysebotn OPP last summer. Photo: Blink

Heidi Weng at Lysebotn OPP last summer. Photo: Blink

The Blink ski festival in Sandnes (NOR) opens on Wednesday and is now the largest summer ski festival in the world.

Each year, more than a 100 of the top World Cup level skiers and biathletes take part in the BLINK events, including Ole Einar Bjørndalen, Krista Pärmäkoski, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, Heidi Weng, Øystein Pettersen and more. The festival and events are also open to future stars, elite and amateur skiers, and more than 5000 kids are expected to stop by the kids’ world section to try out roller skiing and laser biathlon.

This year’s BLINK summer ski festival takes place from July 26 to July 29, and features a number of races and events, starting with the 60-kilometer Blink Classic classic roller ski race on July 26 that is a part of a brand new marathon roller ski world cup.

Next up is Lysebotn OPP on Thursday, July 27. The 7.5-kilometer uphill race is expected to be a fierce fight between Heidi Weng, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg and Krista Pärmäkoski – the Madshus’ turbo trio from the World Cup. Check out the start lists HERE

Friday July 28 and Saturday July 29 feature a number of cross-country and biathlon events in Sandnes city center, including sprints, super sprints and mass start races. Check out the complete schedule HERE

Kids get a chance to try their hand at biathlon. Photo: BLINK/ Axelar Svein Erik Fylkesnes

Kids get a chance to try their hand at biathlon. Photo: BLINK/ Axelar Svein Erik Fylkesnes

Important Victory

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) won Skarverennet 2017 and posted a new course record. Photo: Skarverennet
Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) won Skarverennet 2017 and posted a new course record. Photo: Skarverennet

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) won Skarverennet 2017 and posted a new course record. Photo: Skarverennet

Winning Skarverennet put the season in perspective for Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR).

The 26-year-old won Skarverennet on Saturday, beating Marit Bjørgen (NOR) by 46 seconds and posting a new course record in the process.

“I had great skis and I am super motivated to start the next season,” said Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, who clocked in at 1:30:20.

Fellow Madshus racer Krista Pärmakoski (FIN) was third.

The 37-kilometer skate event from Finse to Ustaoset has long been considered an unofficial season finale, and regularly attracts World Cup skiers from both cross-country and biathlon. For Østberg, winning Skarverennet was a much-appreciated bonus at the end of a somewhat challenging season.

“Winning here has reminded me why I love this. I’m not tired of skiing, of training or putting in the effort that is required at this level. Now I’m super excited to get going on the new ski season, which starts in May, and I’m looking forward to put in the hours,” she said to Norwegian broadcasters NRK after the race.

Østberg admits that there were times this winter when she felt that things were not lining up right.

“A lot of people around me kept reminding me of all the good performances ive had, all my podium finishes, and that many of my races this winter were my best so far. While the World Championships were disappointing, I realize that there are a lot of racers who would have liked to have a season like mine. I have to keep that in mind,” Østberg explains.

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