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Bjørndalen Aims for Overall World Cup

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

Ole Einar Bjørndalen at the World Cup in Pokljuka (SLO) December 2015. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ole Einar Bjørndalen (NOR) is as motivated as ever headed into his 24th World Cup season.

This weekend marked the start of the 2017 FIS and biathlon season, and the 42-year-old veteran has his eyes set on winning the 2017 IBU World Cup.

“The overall World Cup is my main goal this season, which means I have to perform consistently throughout the season. Of course, I will try to peak for the World Championships, but I am not focusing on that until just prior to the championships,” Bjørndalen says.

The seasoned veteran is known to have the peaking plan down to a T, and after almost 25 years at the World Cup level, Bjørndalen is as motivated as ever.

“I’m having fun. I love training, and this is what I love doing. I still see new opportunities. I still have a lot of potential and areas where I can improve when I get my workouts done as planned. I am very excited for this season,” says Bjørndalen, who just became a father last month.

The first World Cup races take place in Östersund (SWE) November 27 to December 4.

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.

 

The King Continues

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

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) keeps racing through the 2018 Olympic season and is becoming a dad.

The King of Biathlon announced today that he is both continuing his career for at least two more years to and he is also becoming a father, expecting a baby with Ukraine biathlete Daria Domratcheva in October. Bjørndalen announced both today at a press conference in Oslo (NOR).

“I look forward to start a new season. The reason I’m continuing is that I am extremely motivated, just as motivated as when I was 20 years old,” Bjørndalen said.

“A lot of media and experts said I should quit while ahead, but its really not a topic for me. Both in 2012 and 2013 I had really tough seasons. I didn’t listen to them, and kept pushing,” Bjørndalen said.

“We are very happy that Ole Einar has decided to continue his career. His experience is of course very valuable to us and the Norwegian national team. At the same time, we are constantly impressed that Ole Einar stays motivated to pursue two more years and pushing the limits and chasing gold,” says Morten Aa Djupvik, Norwegian national team director.

Madshus is excited that Bjørndalen has decided to continue his career, and congratulating the couple on the expected addition to the family.

Sweeping Up the Hardware

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

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

The 2016 IBU World Championships was a Madshus podium party. Let us count the ways:

On the first day of the competition, Thursday March 3, Anaïs Bescond helped France to gold in the mixed relay, while Marte Olsbu helped Norway to silver.

Next up: the sprint on Saturday, March 5. On his first appearance at the 2016 IBU World Championships, Ole Einar Bjørndalen earned himself a medal: Silver. On home turf in Holmenkollen (NOR). These championships have been his main focus for the entire season, not to mention his entire career, which to date counts 24 World Cup seasons. And in his first race he delivers. Right on schedule.

On Sunday, March 6, Bjørndalen helped himself to another silver medal, this time in the men’s 12.5km pursuit.

“That was fun. I had to at least match my age in medals before I consider myself done, but this was the most I could squeeze out of myself today,” the 42-year-old said to Norwegian broadcaster NRK after the race.

In the women’s 15km normal program on Tuesday, March 8, Bescond was back on the podium for another silver medal.

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Anais Bescond (FRA) earned three medals in Holmenkollen: gold in the mixed relay, silver in the 15km normal competition and silver in the womens relay. Photo: Nordic Focus

Anais Bescond (FRA) earned three medals in Holmenkollen: gold in the mixed relay, silver in the 15km normal competition and silver in the womens relay. Photo: Nordic Focus

The women’s relay on Friday, March 11, was another big day for Madshus racers. Olsbu was given the heavy responsibility of anchoring Norway’s team. She returned the honor with gold. In front of a home crowd in Holmenkollen, globally known to be some of the loudest fans around. It was a surreal experience, Olsbu said.

The 25-year-old debuted at the 2015 World Championships in Kontiolahti (FIN) and earned her two first World Championship medals in Holmenkollen.

“This is the biggest I have ever experienced. I can’t believe it’s true,” Olsbu said after the relay, adding that she didn’t dare to look back.

“I was so scared that they would catch me. I skied for my life,” she told reporters.

But pain is soon forgotten. The rewards are so sweet.

“Today we showed that we are good enough to win gold. And we won the World Championships on home turf,” said Olsbu.

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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

The men’s relay on Saturday, March 12, was no let down either. Norway was golden again, with the same team that won the World Championships in Kontiolahti (FIN) last year. Accordingly, as defending champions the boys had a lot to fight for. And they did, but the victory was hardly handed to them on a plate. Winning the gold is one thing. But to deliver in front of a home crowd is something else entirely. For Emil Hegle Svendsen, who anchored the team to gold, the suspense leading up to hos own leg was brutal.

“The nervousness I have experienced prior to this race doesn’t compare to anything I’ve ever felt before. It was so intense,” said Svendsen, who needed the golden boost after a season that has been all over the map.

To deliver for the rest of his team and a whole nation at the World Championships on home turf is something few athletes ever have a chance to experience.

“It was so incredibly amazing to win. My whole life passed in review right there and then,” Svendsen said after his race.

The relay victory marked Svendsen’s 12th World Championship gold medal. For Bjørndalen, it was the 20th.

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Emil Hegle Svendesn was cool as a cucumber on the surface, but said the relay was the most nerve-wrecking experience in his career. Photo: Nordic Focus

Emil Hegle Svendesn was cool as a cucumber on the surface, but said the relay was the most nerve-wrecking experience in his career. Photo: Nordic Focus

Then the final day of the championships, Sunday March 13, featured the grand event of biathlon: the mass start. The head-to-head battles. The pedal to the metal. No games. Bjørndalen secures the bronze, his fourth medal in the 2016 championship.

“It was fantastic to get the bronze. I was a bit tired today, but I secured it at the range and I conserved my energy in the track because I knew it was going to be a rat race to the finish. Maybe I could have gone after it a little harder, but that would also have run the risk of really getting the hammer. I am incredibly content now. It has been a really fantastic championship, beyond all expectations,” Bjørndalen said after the mass start, which concluded the 2016 IBU World Championships in Oslo.

The 2016 IBU World Championships are history. The glory goes on. The 2017 IBU World Championships will take place in Rupholding, Germany.

Emil Hegle Svendsen on his final lap to the finish line. Photo: Nordic Focus

Emil Hegle Svendsen on his final lap to the finish line. Photo: Nordic Focus

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