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Race Ready Already

Ole Einar Bjørndalen at the Blink Summer Ski Festival. Photo: Blink
Ole Einar Bjørndalen at the Blink Summer Ski Festival. Photo: Blink

Ole Einar Bjørndalen at the Blink Summer Ski Festival. Photo: Blink

The annual BLINK summer ski festival is expecting World Cup racers from 17 nations.

It’s summer, but skiers have lots to look forward to long before the snow falls: The traditional BLINK summer ski festival in Sandnes (NOR) at the end of July attracts elite skiers and biathletes from all the top teams.

Madshus racers are among the top contenders in all disciplines, from marathon to cross-country and biathlon, sprint and uphill races.

The 2016 BLINK festival runs from July 27 to 30, with World Cup level racers from almost 20 nations: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Japan, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Austria, Italy, France, USA, Canada, Belgium, Bulgaria, Great Britain and Switzerland.

As of June 15, there 950 racers entered for the opening uphill race Lysebotn OPP and 1220 racers entered for the city center cross-country and biathlon competitions, including 15-20 national teams: 100 senior men cross-country, 50 senior women cross-country, 70 senior men biathlon, 50 senior women biathlon.

Among the top Madshus racers on the start list: Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (xc), Heidi Weng (xc), Pål Golberg (xc), Simen Andreas Sveen (xc), Ole Einar Bjørndalen (biathlon), Marte Olsbu (biathlon), all from Norway. Also, French biathlete Anaïs Bescond, German national team cross-country racers Hanna Kolb, Sandra Ringwald, Monique Siegel and Tim Tscharnke, as well as Swedish racers Markus Ottosson and Fredrik Bytröm.

Also, 240 racers are entered for the brand new Blink Classics long-distance roller ski race, and several of the professional marathon teams are present: Stian Hoelgaard (Team Leaseplan GO), Johan Kjølstad and John Kristian Dahl (Team United Bakeries), as well as Øystein Pettersen (Madshus Marathon team).

Heidi Weng in the Lysebotn Opp roller ski race last summer. Photo: Blink

Heidi Weng in the Lysebotn Opp roller ski race last summer. Photo: Blink

 

It’s a wrap!

Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) and Heidi Weng at the FIS world cup relay in Nove Mesto (CZE). Photo: Nordic Focus
Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) and Heidi Weng at the FIS world cup relay in Nove Mesto (CZE). Photo: Nordic Focus

Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) and Heidi Weng at the FIS world cup relay in Nove Mesto (CZE). Photo: Nordic Focus

The elite skiers have already started the 2017 training season, making this a great time to look back at the 2016 achievements. And what a season it was for the Madshus racers!

Taking a look at some of the major highlights from the season, there is a lot to celebrate in the 2015-16 season. Just take a look at a random week in February: Dominating four sports 

The king of Biathlon, Ole Einar Bjørndalen, opened the IBU World Cup season with a podium at the first possible opportunity, in Östersund (SWE) the first week of December. But he reigned the grounds at the 2016 Holmenkollen World Championships, earning no less than four medals on home turf: gold in the relay, silver in the sprint and the pursuit and bronze in the mass start. At 42 years old. He now has over 40 World Championship medals, and he is not retiring any time soon, said the father to be, who is expecting a daughter in October.

Read more: The King Continues 

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Ole Einar Bjørndalen (NOR) won four medals during the 2016 IBU World Championships on home turf in Oslo. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ole Einar Bjørndalen (NOR) won four medals during the 2016 IBU World Championships on home turf in Oslo. Photo: Nordic Focus

Also at the 2016 Holmenkollen World Championships, Marte Olsbu (NOR) stepped up and earned her first World Championship medal as she anchored Norway to gold in the women’s 4x6km relay.

“This is the biggest I have ever experienced. I can’t believe it’s true,” Olsbu said after the relay.

Anaïs Bescond (FRA) took home two silver medals from Holmenkollen: the 15km normal competition and the relay.

Read the full recap of the Madshus podium party at the 2016 World Championships in Holmenkollen 

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Marte Olsbu anchored Norway to gold in the relay. Photo: Nordic Focus

Marte Olsbu anchored Norway to gold in the relay. Photo: Nordic Focus

In the Ski Classics, Madshus Marathon racer John Kristian Dahl (NOR) won both the 90-kilometer Vasaloppet in Sweden on March 6, and the 54-kilometer Birkebeinerrennet in Norway on March 19. In doing so, he made history: He was the first Norwegian and only the second racer to ever do so in the 93-year-long legacy of the Vasaloppet. The last to win both races back to back in the same season was Sven-Åke Lundbäck back in 1981.

Read more: Nailing the Double 

Two weeks later, Dahl was second in Årefjällsloppet on April 2, which was the Ski Classic Final. The Dahl capped the long-distance season with winning the world’s longest cross-country race: The 200-kilometer Nordenskiöldsloppet in Sweden, the longest ski marathon in the world, in 8 hours 35 minutes and 17 seconds.

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John Kristian Dahl (NOR) won Vasaloppet on March 6, then he won the Birkebeinerrennet on March 21, and is one of only 2 racers to win both in the same season. Photo: Ulf Palm

John Kristian Dahl (NOR) won Vasaloppet on March 6, then he won the Birkebeinerrennet on March 21, and is one of only 2 racers to win both in the same season. Photo: Ulf Palm

Also, Madshus Marathon racers Stian Hoelgaard (NOR) and Emilia Lindstedt (SWE) won the Ski Classic Youth bibs, awarded to the best racers age 26 and under.

Even in a year without any major championships for the FIS cross-country and Nordic Combined, Madshus racers, still brought home an impressive number of podium finishes. The highlights were many and bright, but Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) and Heidi Weng (NOR) really dominated the FIS World Cup this season. The duo brought in podium finishes and victories both in the Tour de Ski in January and the brand new Ski Tour Canada as well as the regular World Cup schedule, in sprints as well as distance races.

Read more: Tour de Podium 

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Heidi Weng (left) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg after the final stage of Ski Tour Canada. Photo: Nordic Focus 

Heidi Weng (left) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg after the final stage of Ski Tour Canada. Photo: Nordic Focus

In Nordic Combined, World Cup rookie Jarl Riiber (NOR) showed no respect for the established elite. He cleaned up the hardware at the 2015 FIS Junior World Championships in Kazakhstan taking home two individual gold medals and bronze in the team competition, and became a permanent member of the Norwegian World Cup team for the 2015-16 season. The 18-year-old stepped up to the challenge. He opened the season by winning the Norwegian national championships in November, and delivered podium finishes on the World Cup throughout the season.

 

What a Wrap

Johan Kjølstad (NOR) won Årefjällsloppet (SWE), the season finale for the 2016 Ski Classics. Photo: Ski Classics
Johan Kjølstad (NOR) won Årefjällsloppet (SWE), the season finale for the 2016 Ski Classics. Photo: Ski Classics

Johan Kjølstad (NOR) won Årefjällsloppet (SWE), the season finale for the 2016 Ski Classics. Photo: Ski Classics

A world record and double Madshus podiums in the Ski Classics finale and at the Norwegian national championships cap off another marvelous season.

Johan Kjølstad (NOR) and John Kristian Dahl (NOR) were first and second respectively at the 65km Årefjällsloppet in Sweden on Saturday, which was the final event in the 2016 Ski Classics long-distance series.

The efforts in the Swedish mountains this weekend lands Dahl in third place in the overall Ski Classics, Johan Kjølstad in fourth overall and their team United Bakeries in second place overall after all nine events are completed.

Also, Emilia Lindstedt (SWE) won the Youth bib in the Ski Classics, while Stian Hoelgaard won the men’s youth bib competition. But while Lindstedt earned her overall title by hundreds of points, Hoelgaard clinched his title by the skin of his teeth. He was 41 points ahead of Anders Høst (NOR) at prior to the final. Høst was 15th at Årefjällsloppet and Hoelgaard 26th, but at the end of the day, Hoelgaard was able to clinch the bib he has had dibs on throughout the season.

Complete results and standings 2016 Ski Classics 

Also this weekend, Heidi Weng and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg were on the podium both in the 5km freestyle event on Friday April 1, as well as in the 30km freestyle on Saturday. OnFriday, Østberg was second and Weng was third, on Saturday the roles were reversed.

The Weng-Østberg duo has dominated the podiums both at the FIS World Cup, the World Cup tours and in the national championships this season, further strengthening their position at the top international level. On Thursday, Weng helped her club mate to second place in the team sprint, which was the opening event at the national championships in Beitostølen.

Complete results for the Norwegian National Championships 

Additionally, Swedish amateur skier Erik Wickström opened the weekend with a new world record: He double-poled 438.5km in 24 hours, the longest distance ever recorded for this 24-hour challenge. The world record attempt started at 7:20am on Thursday, March 31, and ended at 7:20am on Friday, April 1. It took place in Vålådalen, where Wickström completed 1,064.5 laps on a 412-meter loop.

The 33-year-old father of two beat the previous record by more than 5km and will be in the next edition of the Guinnes Book of Records.

Tour de Podium

Heidi Weng, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg og Krista Pärmäkoski swept the podium on the 7th stage of Ski Tour Canada. Photo: FIS

Heidi Weng, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg og Krista Pärmäkoski swept the podium on the 7th stage of Ski Tour Canada. Photo: FIS

Ski Tour Canada marked the season finale for the 2016 FIS World Cup, and a particularly strong finale for Heidi Weng’s amazing season.

The brand new Ski Tour Canada started with skate sprints in Montreal on March 1, then a 10km classic mass start on March 2 in the same place.

Stage 2 was a 10km classic mass start, and a strong effort in the brutal event in Montreal put Heidi Weng in 2nd place overall in the Tour, after a 4th place in the opening skate sprint.

“My plan was to go fast from the start. I hoped that Astrid and I could win some seconds on Therese. But Astrid got tired so I skied alone. It was a good race but I lost a lot of seconds Therese. I have to improve in distance competitions.”

Weng followed up with a third place in the skate sprint in Quebec City on March 5, and Weng snagged the leader, which she held onto for the rest of the tour.

“Stina (Nilsson) was very good today and she deserved to win. The sprint was longer, but I liked it. It is great to be in the lead of the Ski Tour Canada, but there are many races to go.”

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Heidi Weng at the skate sprint in Quebec City. Photo: Nordic Focus

Heidi Weng at the skate sprint in Quebec City. Photo: Nordic Focus

The final race in Quebec was a pursuit on Sunday, March 6. Weng began the day just 11 seconds ahead of her teammate Therese Johaug in the overall Tour standings. Johaug quickly closed the time gap and moved into the lead, but Weng was able to match her pace and outsprinted Johaug to the finish by just 0.1 seconds. With 15, 10 and 5 seconds bonuses given to the top 3 at the finish, Weng kept the leader bib with a 5.1 second margin.

“It was a very good race. When Therese caught me she had a very high speed and I tried to stay with her. It was amazing to follow her. On the last hill I knew I was strong in the last meters. But it was very close. It is fun to win,” Weng said after the pursuit.

Then the Ski Tour Canada moved to Canmore, Alberta, for the last FIS World Cup sprint race of the season. Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) pulled off a strong 3rd place, which left her in second place in the overall 2016 Sprint World Cup.

“It was a really tough sprint. The course was long, and I had to fight until the end. I had to fight all the way I did not have any power left in the finish,” Østberg said.

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Ingvild FLugstad Østberg leading the pack in the 15km skiathlon in Canmore. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ingvild FLugstad Østberg leading the pack in the 15km skiathlon in Canmore. Photo: Nordic Focus

The next stage featured a 15km skiathlon for the women, in which Weng outsprinted Johaug again.

“I tried to keep the pace with Therese and to ski away from the chasing group. We worked together and it was a great fight between me and Therese,” Weng said.

Friday’s 10km pursuit was a Madshus podium party where Østberg dominated the field, winning by 23 seconds to Weng in second place and Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN) in third place.

“I never thought I would win 10 km skate. I thought that was the weakest event for me. I did not feel I was fast. It is a great day for me,” Østberg said, admitting that she never expected to beat both Johaug and Weng in a distance event.

Weng was happy to beat Johaug as well, and earned herself even more bonus seconds for the final pursuit on Saturday.

“I started slowly and wanted to speed up. I got tired in the second lap. I really happy I picked up seconds on Therese and built up the lead in the Ski Tour,” she said.

And finally, Pärmäkoski rounded out the Madshus podium sweep in the second to last stage of the tour.

“I was little bit tired, I knew I had to start slow. I wanted to finish fast. I am excited to be third today,” she said.

The final stage of Ski Tour Canada brought Weng another second place overall in the tour. Just like Tour de Ski. She has proven that she can perform day after day, through travel and time zones, with very little recovery between stages and races. She outsprints the best at the end of a distance race, and she can sprint with the best in a true sprint race. This certainly bodes well for next year, a season when the World Championships will take place in Lahti (FIN), one of Weng’s favorite venues and the place where she earned her first ever World Cup podium.

Heidi Weng (left) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg after the final stage of Ski Tour Canada. Photo: Nordic Focus 

Heidi Weng (left) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg after the final stage of Ski Tour Canada. Photo: Nordic Focus

 

Leaving Europe

Hans Christer Holund (NOR) was third in the 30km skiathlon in Lahti (FIN) on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus
Hans Christer Holund (NOR) was third in the 30km skiathlon in Lahti (FIN) on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Hans Christer Holund (NOR) was third in the 30km skiathlon in Lahti (FIN) on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Hans Christer Holund (NOR) was third in the men’s 30km skiathlon on Sunday, his second individual World Cup podium this season.

“It is awesome to be on the podium again,” Holund said after his race on Sunday.

Heidi Weng scored two WC podiums at her favorite venue, while Ingvild F. Østberg and Hans Christer Holund had one each in Lahti (FIN) as a last prep for the final WC tour in Canada.

Heidi Weng (NOR) was third in the skate sprint in Lahti on Saturday, and second in the 15km skiathlon on Sunday.

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) was third in the skiathlon, barely missing the podium in sprint on Saturday where she finished fourth in the final.

With the podium finishes this weekend, Østberg heads into the last FIS tour of the season in second place in the overall FIS World Cup 2016, in second place in the FIS Sprint World Cup 2016 and in third place in the FIS Distance World Cup 2016. Weng heads into the Tour de Canada in third place in the overall World Cup and in second place in the FIS Distance World Cup.

The World Cup races in Lahti (FIN) this weekend was the end of the FIS World Cup in Europe for the 2016 season. Now the World Cup moves to Canada to wrap up the 2016 season with a brand new tour March 1-12.

This is Tour de Canada 2016
March 1: Sprint Freestyle, Gatineau
March 2: 13km Classic (women), 20km Classic (men), Montreal
March 4: Sprint Freestyle, Quebec City
March 5: Pursuit 10km (women), 15km (men) Freestyle, Quebec City
March 8: Sprint Classic, Canmore
March 9: Skiathlon 15km (women), 30km (men), Canmore
March 11: 10km (women), 15km (men) Freestyle, Canmore
March 12: Pursuit 10km (women) 15km (men), Canmore

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