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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

Incredible Ingvild

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) won the 5km skate race in  Lenzerheide (SUI) on January 3, the third stage of the 2016 Tour de Ski. Photo: Nordic Focus
Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) won the 5km skate race in Lenzerheide (SUI) on January 3, the third stage of the 2016 Tour de Ski. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) won the 5km skate race in Lenzerheide (SUI) on January 3, the third stage of the 2016 Tour de Ski. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) is setting the standards for the 2016 Tour de Ski. Race by race. Podium by podium.

On January 1, Østberg started her run for the Tour de Ski podium by posting the fastest qualifier time in the women’s skate sprint race in Lenzerheide (SUI), which opened the tenth anniversary version of the cross-country stage race. At the end of the day, Østberg pulled in to a strong third place in the sprint final and put her self on the podium at the first possible opportunity in 2016.

From there, Østberg just kept climbing spots on the podium, and she concluded the first part of the Tour on the top of the overall list with a 14.1 second lead to Therese Johaug (NOR).

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Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) pulled into an impressive victory in the 5km skate race on January 3, finishing the first block of the 2016 Tour de Ski in first place overall. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) pulled into an impressive victory in the 5km skate race on January 3, finishing the first block of the 2016 Tour de Ski in first place overall. Photo: Nordic Focus

On January 2, the Tour continued with classic distance races for stage 2: 15km mass start for women ad 30km mass start for men. Østberg picked up right where she left after the first stage, and was back on the podium again with a strong second place in the second stage.

“It was maybe my best 15km classic race ever. I am really happy about today’s second place. I tried to be focused and calm and ski my own competition. I have to do the same thing tomorrow,” Østberg said after her race.

Sunday January 3 featured 10km and 5km skate pursuit races for men and women, respectively, the last of the three Tour de Ski stages in Switzerland. Østberg started 4.5 seconds behind Therese Johaug in the overall classifications, but won the race by 14.1 seconds, which leaves her in first place overall with a 14.3-second lead including bonus seconds for winning.

“Now I deserve the red bib. It was really hard today. My legs were really tired at the end. It was my plan to catch Therese early and do my best. I am looking forward to the rest day,” Østberg said after the 5km race on Sunday.

Weng had a rougher start to her Tour de Ski this year, but was content with her 5km skate race on Sunday, where she posted her second podium finish in three days.

Heidi Weng (NOR) was third in the classic mass start on Saturday, and third in the skate race on Sunday.

“I wanted to be relaxed and no to start too fast on the first climb. But my legs were very stiff. I tried to keep the pace not to lose many seconds on Charlotte (Kalla). I was surprised in the finish that the gap on Ingvild and Therese did not grow that much,” Weng said after her race on Sunday.

In the men’s 30km classic on January 2, Didrik Tønseth (NOR) also pulled off a strong race in the tough conditions, and put him self on the podium with a third place.

“It was a good race. I had good skis with a good grip. It was difficult snow conditions out there,” Tønseth said after his race.

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Didrik Tønseth (NOR) was third in the 30km classic mass start in Lenzerheid (SUI) on January 2. Photo: Nordic Focus

Didrik Tønseth (NOR) was third in the 30km classic mass start on January 2. Photo: Nordic Focus

Monday January 4 is a rest day as the Tour de Ski now moves to Oberstdorf (GER). The Tour stays in Germany for two stages: classic sprint races on January 5 and classic mass start races on January 6. Women ski 10km and men ski 15km in the mass start events.

Thursday January 7 is the second and last rest day in the 2016 Tour de Ski.

Finally, the Tour travels to Italy for the last three stages: January 8 features individual start skate races in Toblach with 5km for women and 10km for men. The classic mass start races in Val di Fiemme on January 9 with 10km for women and 15km men set the stage for the final monster stage: The 9km Alpe Cermis uphill pursuit on January 10.

Heidi Weng (NOR) leading the pack during the 15km classic mass start in Lenzerheide (SUI) on January 2. Photo: Nordic Focus

Heidi Weng (NOR) was third the 15km classic mass start on January 2. Photo: Nordic Focus

 

Dominated the WC Podiums

Ole Einar Bjørndalen at the World Cup weekend in Pokljuka (SLO) with a second place in the sprint on Thursday. Photo: Nordic Focus
Ole Einar Bjørndalen opened the World Cup weekend in Pokljuka (SLO) with a second place in the sprint on Thursday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ole Einar Bjørndalen opened the World Cup weekend in Pokljuka (SLO) with a second place in the sprint on Thursday. Photo: Nordic Focus

The last World Cup weekend before the holidays yielded no less than 11 podium finishes for the Madshus racers.

The biathletes were first out, opening the World Cup weekend in Pokljuka (SLO) with the men’s 10km sprint on Thursday night: Ole Einar Bjørndalen (NOR) wasted no time, and went straight to the podium with an impressive second place finish.

His best performance in a long time,” said expert commentator Ola Lunde of the veteran after the race.

On Sunday, Bjørndalen snagged his second podium for the weekend, finishing third in the mass start, behind teammate Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR). Super-Svendsen was just a hair from the victory in the mass start after delivering a smoking second half of the race.

The next round in the IBU World Cup is January 8-10, 2016, in Nove Mesto (CZE).

Complete results from the IBU World Cup in Pokljuka 

For the Nordic combined crew, the Norwegian Madshus racers dominated Saturday’s competition in Ramsau (AUT), claiming all the podium spots: Magnus Moan (NOR) won, while Magnus Krog (NOR) was second and reigning Norwegian national champion Jarl Riiber was third. On Sunday, Riiber, who is a rookie on the senior World Cup circuit this season, was back on the podium for the second day in a row, with a strong second place.

The Nordic Combined World Cup takes a break over the holidays and starts up in 2016 with two competitions in Klingethal (GER) on January 2-3.

Complete results from the FIS Nordic Combined World Cup 

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Jarl Riiber (NOR) was third in the Nordic Combined World Cup in Ramsau (AUT) on Saturday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Jarl Riiber (NOR) was third in the Nordic Combined World Cup in Ramsau (AUT) on Saturday. Photo: Nordic Focus

The FIS cross-country World Cup moved to Toblach, Italy, for the last round of races before the 2016 Tour de Ski. On Saturday, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg posted another second place in the skate sprint. On Sunday, she was back on the podium again with a third place in the 10-kilometer classic race, just behind fellow Madshus racer Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN), who posted her first World Cup podium for the season.

“I am so excited to be on the podium. I have been waiting for this moment since the beginning of the season. I knew the energy and fitness was there, but until today I haven’t been able to show that in my results. The whole Finnish team was amazing today,” Pärmäkoski said after her race.

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Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN) earned her first podium finish for the season on Sunday, with second place in the 10km classic at the World Cup in Toblach (ITA). Photo: Nordic Focus

Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN) earned her first podium finish for the season on Sunday, with second place in the 10km classic at the World Cup in Toblach (ITA). Photo: Nordic Focus

Østberg, who has established her self as a solid distance racer this season as well as one of the best sprinters in the world, was equally excited about her third place.

“It was very tight, and great battle between me, Krista and Heidi (Weng). I lost a lot at the end of the race but I am really satisfied with third place. The season has been so great for me. I nearly cannot believe it. I’m so happy that things have worked so well for me,” said Østberg.

Also on Sunday, Alexander Bessmertnykh (RUS) skied into an impressive second place in the men’s 15-kilometer classic in Toblach.

“It is great to be back on the podium again,” said Bessmertnykh, who chose to ski with kick wax,.

While about half of the racers chose to go without on the challenging course, The Russian did not regret his decision.

“I had a very good race, and it was a good choice to go with kick wax. I had amazing skis. Our service team did a great job,” Bessmertnykh said.

The FIS World Cup resumes on January 1 with the first event of the 10-day stage race Tour de Ski, where sprint races in Lenzerheide (SUI) are the first races.

Complete results from the FIS Cross-country World Cup 

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