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Solid Ski Classics Season

Stian Hoelgaard was third in the 90km Vasaloppet 2017. Photo: Ski Classics
Stian Hoelgaard was third in the 90km Vasaloppet 2017. Photo: Ski Classics

Stian Hoelgaard was third in the 90km Vasaloppet 2017. Photo: Ski Classics

Stian Hoelgaard dominated the Youth Competition, 3 Madshus women among top 5 in the Overall Ski Classics Champion competition.

Hoelgaard (NOR), who won the Youth Competition for the second year in a row, earned 1269 points – almost twice as many points as the next racer. This marks the second year in a row that Hoelgaard wins the Youth competition. He was also fourth in the Overall Ski Classics Champion competition.

“I have had a great season, and I really liked skiing so many races. I made four podium finishes, and had amazing skis and was able to peak just at the right times,” Hoelgaard says. Now, the 26-year-old is hungry for more.

“I still haven’t won a Ski Classics event, so I’m already top motivated for the next season and I am looking forward to start the dryland training and the preparations for next winter, where I hope to nail my first victory.”

A season recap will be broadcasted on Monday, April 17, starting at 8:30am Central European Time. 52-minute broadcast will feature highlights from the 2016-17 Ski Classics season.
More information

Strong women
For the women, Madshus captured three of the top five in the overall Ski Classics Champion competition. Astrid Øyre Slind (NOR) of Team United Bakeries was third, Sara Lindborg of Team Särneke was fourth and Emilia Lindstedt (SWE) of Team Ski ProAm was fifth.

Slind was also third in the brand new Nordic Trophy competition, which rewards the top three men and women over the last five events in the Ski Classics. All of these five events take place in the Nordic countries (Vasaloppet and Årefjällsloppet in Sweden, Birkebeinerrennet and Reistadløpet in Norway and the Ski Classics finale Ylläs-Levi in Finland).

Astrid Øyre Slind at the Birkebeinerrennet, where she was fourth after fighting for the podium to the bitter end. Photo: Inge Scheve

Astrid Øyre Slind (NOR) at the Birkebeinerrennet, where she was 4th after fighting for the podium to the end. Photo: Inge Scheve

Dahl defends Vasaloppet title

John Kristian Dahl won Vasaloppet for the third time. Photo: Madshus
John Kristian Dahl won Vasaloppet for the third time. Photo: Madshus

John Kristian Dahl won Vasaloppet for the third time. Photo: Madshus

John Kristian Dahl won the legendary 90-kilometer classic race from Sälen to Mora for the third time, defending his victory from last year.

In addition to winning Vasaloppet last year, Dahl also won the race in 2014, his first season as a marathon skier.

Despite injuring his back in preparation for the Vasaloppet on Thursday, Dahl fought his way to the front of the pack with 4 kilometers to the finish, and won the sprint finish by a tenth of a second and a few centimeters, clocking in at 3:57:18.1. On Thursday, the 35-year-old was in such pain that he wrote off the Vasaloppet this year.

“This is amazing, a miracle. Two days ago, I couldn’t ski at all, but I thought that I would try to start the race. My back got better in the race, but my arms were totally depleted at the finish. And given that I felt cooked already at the start, it feels like a miracle that I am standing here,” Dahl said at the finish line, his voice trembling.

“I was tired already after 30km and had to let go of the lead group. But I fought my way back, taking it step-by-step and hill-by-hill,” Dahl said to reporters after the race.

Madshus marathon racer Stian Hoelgaard was third, only 0.6 seconds behind Dahl. With 903 points in the overall Ski Classics youth competition, Hoelgaard now has a substantial lead to Oscar Persson, who is second with 394 points. Hoelgaard is also third in the overall Ski Classics champion competition only 12 points behind second place.

Among the women, Madshus marathon racers Astrid Øyre Slind (NOR) of Team United Bakeries was second, and Sara Lindborg (SWE) was third. They finished in 4:21:21.3 and 4:28:47.6, respectively.

Top 3 men
1. John Kristian Dahl, Team United Bakeries. 3:57:18.1
2. Andreas Nygaard, Santander, 3:57:18.2
3. Stian Hoelgaard, Team Leaseplan, 3:57:18.7

Top 3 women
1. Britta Johansson, Norgren, Lager 157, 4:19:43.4
2. Astrid Øyre Slind, Team United Bakeries, 4:21:21-3
3. Sara Lindborg, Sernäke, 4:28:47.6

Sprint, distance and marathon podiums

29.01.2017, Falun Sweden (SWE):
Heidi Weng (NOR) - FIS world cup cross-country, mass women, Falun (SWE). www.nordicfocus.com. © Modica/NordicFocus. Every downloaded picture is fee-liable.
29.01.2017, Falun Sweden (SWE): Heidi Weng (NOR) - FIS world cup cross-country, mass women, Falun (SWE). www.nordicfocus.com. © Modica/NordicFocus. Every downloaded picture is fee-liable.

Heidi Weng (NOR) in front of Ingvild Flugstad (NOR) at the FIS World Cup 15km classic mass start in Falun (SWE). Photo: Nordic Focus

Heidi Weng and Ingvild F. Østberg were back on the podium at the FIS cross-country World Cup, while Johan Kjølstad and Sara Lindborg posted Ski Classics podiums at the Marcialonga.

Heidi Weng (NOR) opened the World Cup weekend in Falun (SWE) with third place in the skate sprint on Saturday.

“I had never competed in the sprint here in Falun before. So this was new for me, and I am happy with the result. It’s good as well for the Overall World Cup lead as Krista (Parmakoski) was just behind me today, so I have a few more points,” Weng said after her race on Saturday.

On Sunday, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) was a fraction of a second away from victory in the 15km classic mass start in Falun.

“I felt really good today. I thought I could win. I didn’t ski the final climb well on the sprint course and Marit (Bjørgen) got a gap and I wasn’t able to close it. I wasn’t satisfied with yesterday’s sprint result, so it’s good to be back on the podium today,” Østberg said after her race.

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28.01.2017, Falun Sweden (SWE): Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) - FIS world cup cross-country, individual sprint, Falun (SWE). www.nordicfocus.com. © Modica/NordicFocus. Every downloaded picture is fee-liable.

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) at the FIS World Cup sprint in Falun (SWE) on Saturday. Photo:  Nordic Focus

Heidi Weng in third place for the second day in a row, but had to dig deep for her second podium. I was so tired today. The others were getting a gap on the Morderbacken each lap, but I was able to come back to them on the downhill. I thought Stina might catch me, so I am very happy to make the podium today,” Weng said.

For Weng and Østberg, the Falun races this weekend was the last World Cup competitions for a while. Østberg joins the national team for an altitude camp in the Alps in preparation for the World Championships in Lahti (FIN) in the end of February, while Weng is preparing at her family’s cabin at Skeikampen (NOR).

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29.01.2017, Falun Sweden (SWE): Heidi Weng (NOR) - FIS world cup cross-country, mass women, Falun (SWE). www.nordicfocus.com. © Modica/NordicFocus. Every downloaded picture is fee-liable.

Heidi Weng (NOR) at the FIS World Cup 15km Classic mass start on Sunday in Falun (SWE). Photo: NordicFocus

Also on Sunday, Johan Kjølstad was second at the Marcialonga, beating Morten Eide Pedersen on the finish line. Stian Hoelgaard (NOR) was fifth overall, and increased his major lead in the overall youth competition where he already had a gap of more than 200 points prior to the Marcialonga.

Sara Lindborg (SWE) was third in the women’s race, and is also third in the Ski Classics overall this season. Lindborg and fellow Madshus marathon racer Astrid Øyre Slind (NOR) lead the women’s field for much of the race. Due to lack of snow, the 70-kilometer classic event was shortened to 57km this year.

Johan Kjølstad (left) was second in the Marcialonga. Photo: Team United Bakeries

Johan Kjølstad (left) was second in the Marcialonga. Photo: Team United Bakeries

Dominated the Mini Tour

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR), Heidi Weng (NOR), Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN), left to right, dominated the World Cup podium at the mini tour in Lillehammer this weekend. Photo: Nordic Focus
Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR), Heidi Weng (NOR), Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN), left to right, dominated the World Cup podium at the mini tour in Lillehammer this weekend. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR), Heidi Weng (NOR), Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN), left to right, dominated the World Cup podium at the mini tour in Lillehammer this weekend. Photo: Nordic Focus

The Madshus girls plastered the podium at the World Cup mini tour in Lillehammer: Heidi Weng won, Ingvild Østberg was second and Krista Pärmäkoski was third overall.

When Heidi Weng (NOR) won her first ever World Cup sprint race on home turf in Lillehammer on Friday, she could hardly believe it was true.

“I can’t believe I won a sprint. It’s amazing. I don’t really understand what happened at the end of the heat, but I felt that my technique was good and I double-poled really well. Still, I was expecting everyone to glide up on my side any time before the finish line, and I was thinking to myself that if I win this, it’s just sick. But I had such good skis, perfect grip and amazing glide. It was so fun,” Weng said after her race.

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Heidi Weng (NOR) during the 5km skate race at the FIS world cup in Lillehammer (NOR). Photo: Nordic Focus

Heidi Weng (NOR) during the 5km skate race at the FIS world cup in Lillehammer (NOR). Photo: Nordic Focus

On Saturday, Weng was back on the podium with a second place in the 5-kilometer skate race, which was the second stage of the mini tour. The first two stages left her with a 20-second lead for the final stage, the 10-kilometer classic pursuit on Sunday.

And on Sunday, Weng left no doubt: She was the queen of the mini tour. While she made it look easy, the 25-year-old admitted she never felt confident before crossing the finish line of the 10-kilometer classic pursuit. “The first lap was good, but on the second lap I was so stiff I took the corners easy. I was certain I would be caught on the last lap, and I was so happy that I managed to keep the gap all the way in. But I had to work so hard with my head. On that last hill, I was telling myself that I can’t give up now, but I was expecting to see Krista cruise by me at any point,” Weng said after the final stage of the mini tour.

While Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) fell short of the podium during the first two days of the mini tour, her performances at the sprint and skate races left her in second place overall prior to the final pursuit. On Sunday, she was beyond happy to be on the podium. “I had a goal to make the podium this weekend, and being second was more than I expected,” she said after her race on Sunday.

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Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) on her way to 2nd place in the final stage of the FIS World Cup mini tour in Lillehammer (NOR). Photo: Nordic Focus

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) on her way to 2nd place in the final stage of the FIS World Cup mini tour in Lillehammer (NOR). Photo: Nordic Focus

Pärmäkoski was also excited about her mini tour in Lillehammer, and especially her last race on Sunday, where she also posted the fastest time of the day despite a dramatic fall on the last lap.

“I felt like I was flying today. It was an amazing race. My body worked very well and my skis were perfect. It was an advantage to ski behind Ingvild (Flugstad Østberg). On the last downhill, I had to take my chances if I wanted to win. The fall was unfortunate but I am happy for 3rd place,” Pärmäkoski said after the race on Sunday.

With the mini tour victory, Weng is now leading the overall 2017 FIS World Cup, with Østberg in second place and Pärmäkoski in third.

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Krista Parmakoski (FIN)  was 3rd in the pursuit at FIS World Cup in Lillehammer (NOR), despite a fall on the final lap of the 10km race. Photo: Nordic Focus

Krista Parmakoski (FIN) was 3rd in the pursuit at FIS World Cup in Lillehammer (NOR), despite a fall on the final lap of the 10km race. Photo: Nordic Focus

Also this weekend
Pål Golberg (NOR), who was leading the sprint world cup after winning the sprint race at the FIS World Cup opener in Finland last weekend, also made it to the men’s final in the sprint on Friday, but broke a pole right after the start gun went off.

At the IBU biathlon World Cup in Östersund (SWE), Anaïs Bescond (FRA) started the season with a second place in the women’s 15-kilometer normal competition, which was the first individual World Cup race for the season.

At the Ski Classic long-distance series, Sara Lindborg (SWE) followed up her third place in the prologue last weekend with a third place again in the 35-kilometer La Sgambeda in Italy.

Straight to the Podium

Håvard Solås Taugbøl (NOR) won the sprint at the Swedish cross-country season opener in Bruksvallarna Sunday, while Caitlin Gregg (USA) was third in the 10K skate in Gällivare.

Madshus racers waste no time when they get on snow.

“It was really good, and nice to get a victory this early in the season. I’m really not used to beating people like Jönsson and (Teodor) Peterson,” Håvard Solås Taugbøl said to VGTV after the sprint.

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Håvard Solås Tagbøl won the sprint in Bruksvallarna Sunday. Here from the World Cup in Rybinsk (RUS) in January. Photo: NordicFocus

Håvard Solås Tagbøl won the sprint in Bruksvallarna Sunday. Here from the World Cup in Rybinsk (RUS) in January. Photo: NordicFocus

Also in Gällivare (SWE), Madshus racer Noah Hoffman (USA) pulled into sixth place in the men’s 15K skate on Sunday. Caitlin Gregg, who earned the bronze medal in the women’s 10K at the 2015 FIS World Championships in Falun (SWE), was seventh in the classic sprint in Gällivare on Saturday.

Complete results from the FIS opener in Gällivare 

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Noah Hoffman (USA) was 6th in the season opener this weekend. Here from the 15k skate at FIS World Championships in Falun (SWE). Photo: NordicFocus

Noah Hoffman (USA) was 6th in the 15km skate race at the FIS season opener in Gällivare (SWE) this weekend. Here from the 15k skate at FIS World Championships in Falun (SWE). Photo: NordicFocus

The season opener in Bruksvallarna (SWE) also featured classic races on Friday, where Swedish Madshus racers Sara Lindborg and Marika Sundin were fifth and seventh respectively, in the women’s 5-kilometer, and Simon Andersson was sixth in the men’s 10-kilometer event. On Saturday, Andersson was ninth in the 15-kilometer skate race, while Anton Lindblad was tenth.

Complete results from the FIS opener in Bruksvallarna 

At Sjusjøen (NOR), the biathletes had their season opener with sprint competitions for both men and women on Saturday and mass starts on Sunday. Madshus racers posted several top 10 results on both days, including Benedikt Doll (GER), who was fifth in the sprint and tenth in the mass start on Sunday – just ahead of biathlon’s grand old man, Ole Einar Bjørndalen (NOR) in 11th place.

“It wasn’t half bad, but I didn’t shoot well today. It will get better as the season gets underway,” Bjørndalen said to NRK after the race on Sunday.

Both Bjørndalen and Svendsen sat out Saturday’s sprint race. Due to illness, injury and recent altitude camps, the two were playing the national races conservatively in order to be peaking for the first World Cup races in Östersund (SWE) December 1-6.

Complete results Sjusjøen  

Ole Einar Bjørndalen practicing at Sjusjøen (NOR) prior to the season opener races this weekend. Photo: Stefano Zatta/Madshus

Ole Einar Bjørndalen practicing at Sjusjøen (NOR) prior to the season opener races this weekend. Photo: Stefano Zatta/Madshus

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