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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

Six WC Podiums

Norway won the 4x5km World Cup relay in Nove Mesto (CZE) on Sunday. From left: Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, Therese Johaug, INgvild Flugstad Østberg (Madshus) and Heidi Weng (Madshus). Photo: Nordic Focus
Ole Einar Bjørndalen (left) and Erlend Bjøntegaard helped Norway to third place in the IBU World Cup relay on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ole Einar Bjørndalen (left) and Erlend Bjøntegaard helped Norway to third place in the IBU World Cup relay on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Another productive weekend for the Madshus World Cup racers, netting six podiums in one days.

Relays and Madshus racers seem to be a good combination.

First, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg and Heidi Weng helped Norway to victory in the FIS Cross-Country World Cup in Nove Mesto (CZE), where Østberg skied the opening leg and Weng skied the second leg in the women’s 4x5km relay. This was Norway’s tenth consecutive relay victory in the World Cup. Then Mathias Rundgreen helped Norway to first place in the men’s 4×7.5km relay at the same venue.

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Norway won the 4x5km World Cup relay in Nove Mesto (CZE) on Sunday. From left: Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, Therese Johaug, INgvild Flugstad Østberg (Madshus) and Heidi Weng (Madshus). Photo: Nordic Focus

Norway won the 4x5km World Cup relay in Nove Mesto (CZE) on Sunday. From left: Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, Therese Johaug, INgvild Flugstad Østberg (Madshus) and Heidi Weng (Madshus). Photo: Nordic Focus

On Saturday, Weng and Østberg were both top 10 in the 10km skate race in Nove Mesto, finishing sixth and ninth respectively, while Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN) rounded out the top 10 in tenth place.

The FIS Cross-Country World Cup now moves to Norway featuring the traditional sprint races in Drammen (NOR) on February 3, followed by distance races in Holmenkollen (NOR) on February 5-7.

Complete results 

In the IBU Biathlon World Cup, Anaïs Bescond helped France to victory in the women’s relay on Sunday. Then later that day, Benedikt Doll helped Germany to second place in the men’s relay, where Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and Erlend Bjøntegaard took Norway to third place. The IBU World Cup events were held in Anterselva (ITA) at almost 2.000 meters above sea level, which cause trouble for some athletes.

The next IBU World Cup events take place in Canmore (CAN) on February 1-7.

Complete results 

Anais Bescond helped France to victory in the IBU World Cup relay in Anterselva (ITA) on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Anais Bescond helped France to victory in the IBU World Cup relay in Anterselva (ITA) on Sunday. 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 

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.

 

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