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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 

Solid World Cup Weekend

Miriam Gössner (GER) hauled into third place in the 7.5km sprint in Hochfilzen, (AUT). Photo: NordicFocus
Miriam Gössner (GER) hauled into third place in the 7.5km sprint in Hochfilzen, (AUT). Photo: NordicFocus

Miriam Gössner (GER) hauled into third place in the 7.5km sprint in Hochfilzen, (AUT). Photo: NordicFocus

Both biathletes and cross-country skiers brought on their show and hauled home one relay and four individual WC podiums.

Friday morning, Madshus biathlete Miriam Gössner (GER) finished third in the women’s sprint at the IBU World Cup in Hochfilzen (AUT). Missing only once, Gössner was 21 seconds behind first place.

On Sunday, Emil Hegle Svendsen anchored Norway to second place in the men’s relay. The IBU World Cup now moves on to round 3, which takes place in Pokljuka (SLO) December 17-20.

Complete results from the second IBU World Cup round

The FIS cross-country World Cup featured one distance race and one sprint competition in Davos (SUI) this weekend.

On Saturday, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, might just have been the happiest girl on the podium after her second place in the 15km skate race in Davos (SUI).

“Who would have thought that I would be on the podium here,” Østberg said after her race. The 24-year-old, who won the 2014 Olympic team sprint and the 2015 World Championships team sprint, has made substantial gains in distance events this season.

Heidi Weng (NOR) was right behind Østberg, with a solid third place. Østberg followed up with another strong podium finish in the skate sprint on Sunday. At the end of the day, she was third after posting the fastest qualifier time and winning every heat until the final.

Next weekend, the FIS cross-country World Cup moves to Toblach (ITA) for the last round of World Cup races before the holidays. Next up is the tenth anniversary for the Tour de Ski, from January 1-10, 2016.

Complete results from the third FIS World Cup round 

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) was on the podium both Saturday and Sunday during the FIS World Cup in Davos (SUI). Photo: NordicFocus

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) was on the podium both Saturday and Sunday during the FIS World Cup in Davos (SUI). Photo: NordicFocus

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.

 

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!

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