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“First place feels really special”

Benedikt Doll (GER) hauled into gold in the sprint on Saturday. Photo: Nordic Focus

The World Cup season is just around the corner. These are some of the racers to keep an eye on this winter.

Benedikt Doll (GER) hauled into gold in the sprint on Saturday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Benedikt Doll (GER) hauled into gold in the sprint at the 2017 IBU World Championships. Photo: Nordic Focus

Biathlon
Benedikt Doll (GER)
– the ambitious German from Titisee-Neustadt earned the gold in the sprint at the 2017 World Championships in Hochfilzen (Austria) in February, with a 0.7 second margin. This was his first individual World Championships gold medal, and only the third time in his entire career that Doll shot clean.

“It’s amazing. It’s unreal. First place feels really special,” Doll said to reporters after his race.

Doll also helped Germany to silver in the relay at the 2016 World Championships in Holmenkollen (Norway), and has several World Cup podiums and Junior World Championship medals.

Marte Olsbu (NOR) – the 26-year-old from Froland anchored Norway to gold in relay at the 2016 World Championships in Holmenkollen (Norway), and also helped Norway to the bronze medal in the mixed relay at the same championships. Olsbu comes into the season as the reigning Norwegian champion in the mass start event as well as the in summer biathlon, and eager to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang (South Korea) in February.

The 2018 IBU Biathlon World Cup opens with a full round of races in Lillehammer(NOR) November 22-26.

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Marte Olsbu (NOR) is aiming for the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. Photo: Nordic Focus

Marte Olsbu (NOR) is aiming for the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. Photo: Nordic Focus

Cross-country
Hans Christer Holund (NOR)
– a stayer at the World Cup level, the 28-year-old had his breakthrough at the international level in the 2016 season, posting several World-Cup podium finishes. Last season, he injured his shoulder in the final weeks prior to the season, but still managed to come back in time for the World Cup. This season, Holund has his eyes set on the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang (South Korea) in February. In July, he won the brutal uphill rollerski race Lysebotn Opp by a full minute, leaving the entire World Cup elite in the dust.

Hans Christer Holund (NOR) was 3rd in the 15km classic at the FIS World Cup in Otepaeae (EST). Photo: Nordic Focus

Hans Christer Holund (NOR) is coming off a flying World Cup season and going for more. Photo: Nordic Focus

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Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) – the strong all-round racer from Gjøvik, hardly needs further introduction. Performing in both distance and sprint races, Østberg has earned multiple World Cup podiums since her first appearance on the international circuit in November 2008. At the 2014 Olympics in Sochi (RUS), she helped Norway to gold in the team sprint and earned a silver medal in the sprint event. At the 2015 World Championships in Falun (SWE), she again helped Norway to gold in the team sprint. She was third in the overall 2017 World Cup, and with a total of 48 World Cup podiums and 105 top-10-finishes.

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Madshus dominated the Tour de Ski podium in Val Mustair (SUI) after the 5km classic mass start race: Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (center) won, with Heidi Weng (left) in 2nd place and Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN) in 3rd place. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (center), with Heidi Weng (left) and Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN) during the 2017 Tour de Ski in Val Müstair (SUI). Photo: Nordic Focus

Liz Stephen (USA) – New on the Madshus team this season, the 30-year-old from Vermont is known throughout the racing community as one of the best climbers in the world. She has been a part of the US Ski Team since 2007, and was a part of the 2010 and 2014 U.S. Olympic team, as well as the U.S. World Championship teams in 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015.

“I’m really excited to be on Madshus this season,” says Stephen, who is aiming for her third Olympics with the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang (South Korea).

The 2018 FIS World Cup season opens with a mini tour in Ruka (Finland) on November 24.

Liz Stephen (USA) at the World Cup/Pre-OLympics in, Pyeong Chang (KOR). Photo: NordicFocus

Liz Stephen (USA) at the World Cup/Pre-OLympics in, Pyeong Chang (KOR). Photo: NordicFocus

Redline Redefines the Race

 

Stian Hoelgaard, who has been on the podium consistently for years and currently leads the overall Ski Classics youth competition, has one ultimate career goal: to win Vasaloppet.

“Vasaloppet is the hairiest race on the schedule. It’s the biggest ski race in the world. It’s 90 kilometers and everyone starts on the same starting line. It’s special, and I want to win it,” says the 25-year-old, who is in his fifth marathon season.

Last year, Hoelgaard missed his goal by 0.5 seconds to Madshus teammate John Kristian Dahl.

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Stian Hoelgaard at Kaiser Maximilian Lauf in Austria on January 14. Photo: Madshus

Stian Hoelgaard at Kaiser Maximilian Lauf in Austria on January 14. Photo: Madshus

At Madshus, we work hard to put every margin on your side. Our Redline products know no compromises. Our product developers save no effort, material or engineering to build the most advanced equipment on the market.

The Redline Propulsion is a classic double-pole ski developed with the best and most accomplished long-distance racers in the world over the past years: built specifically for double-poling: with a flex and camber style developed to facilitate fast acceleration in uphill and flat terrain, a brand new 3D geometry that improves the pressure distribution throughout the entire ski, optimized pressure distribution for high speed stability on long descents and a low tip that reduces the swing weight of the ski and preserves energy.

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Madshus Propulsion - Foto Stefano Zatta:Madshus 680x

Madshus Propulsion. Photo: Stefano Zatta/Madshus

The Redline skis and boots also continue to push the limits on the World Cup. On January 8, Heidi Weng parked her competitors on her way up the monster hill on the final stage of the 2017 Tour de Ski. She won the overall tour and had the fastest time for the brutal stage.

“This is a huge victory for me, and winning the Tour de Ski is the hardest thing I have done. But it seems like the monster hill was I wanted to sprint from the bottom of the hill,” Heidi Weng said after her impressive performance up the alpine run in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

08.01.2017, Val di Fiemme, Italy (ITA): Heidi Weng (NOR) - FIS world cup cross-country, tour de ski, final climb women, Val di Fiemme (ITA). www.nordicfocus.com. © Modica/NordicFocus. Every downloaded picture is fee-liable.

Heidi Weng (NOR) won the 2017 Tour de Ski. She parked her competitors and had the fastest time up the final climb on Alpe Cermis in Val di Fiemme (ITA). Photo: Nordic Focus

Ready to Race

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR) will compete in the mass start on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus
Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR) will compete in the mass start on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR) is ready for the World Cup season opener in Östersund (SWE). Photo: Nordic Focus

The weekend marks the opening of the World Cup season for Nordic and biathlon, as well as the kick-off for the 2017 Ski Classics long-distance series.

It will be a busy season for both fans and racers, so mark your calendar for the season highlights.

The IBU biathlon World Cup opens in Östersund (SWE) on November 27 with the mixed team relay in the afternoon and the single mixed relay in the evening. The World Cup opener continues with the women’s 15km normal on November 30, the men’s 20km normal on December 1, sprints for men and women on December 3 and concludes with pursuit races for men and women on December 4.

The IBU World Cup season consists of nine World Cup rounds:
Nov 25-Dec 4: Österssund (SWE)
Dec 6-11: Pokljuka (SLO)
Dec 13-18: Nove Mesto (CZE)
Jan 2-8: Oberhof (GER)
Jan 10-15: Rupholding (GER)
Jan 17-22: Antholz-Anterselva (ITA)
Feb 27-March 5: Hochfilzen (AUT)
March 7-12: Pyeongchang (KOR)
March 14-19: Oslo (NOR)

The 2017 FIS Nordic World Cup opens in Ruka (FIN) with races for both cross-country and Nordic combined on November 26-27. For cross-country, the World Cup opens with classic sprint races on Saturday, followed by 10/15-kilometer skate races on Sunday. The Nordic Combined racers open their season with Gundersen Large Hill 142m and 10-kilometer cross-country on both Saturday and Sunday.

Then the cross-country World Cup continues with 12 rounds including Tour de Ski and two mini tours throughout the winter:
Nov 26-27: Ruka (FIN)
Dec 2-4: Lillehammer (NOR) mini tour
Dec 10-11: Davos (SUI)
Dec 17-18: La Clusaz (FRA)
Dec 31-Jan 8: Tour de Ski
Jan 14-15: Toblach (ITA)
Jan 21-22: Ulricehamn (SWE)
Jan 28-29: Falun (SWE)
Feb 3-5: PyeongChang (KOR)
Feb 18-19: Otepää (EST)
March 8: Drammen (NOR)
March 11-12: Oslo (NOR)
March 16-19: Tyumen (RUS) mini tour

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Ingvild Flugstad Østberg won the 10-kilometer season opener at Beitostølen on Friday, and was third in the 10-kilometer skate race on Saturday. Photo: Geir Olsen

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) won the 10-kilometer season opener at Beitostølen last weekend, and is excited to get started with the 2016-17 FIS World Cup. Photo: Geir Olsen

For Nordic Combined, there are 12 World Cup rounds this season:
Nov 26-27: Ruka (FIN)
Dec 2-4: Lillehammer (NOR)
Dec 17-18: Ramsau (AUT)
Jan 7-8: Lahti (FIN)
Jan 13-15: Val di Fiemme (ITA)
Jan 21-22: Chaux-Neuve (FRA)
Jan 27-29: Seefeld (AUT)
Feb 4-5: PyeongChang (KOR)
Feb 10-11: Sapporo (JAP)
March 11: Oslo (NOR)
March 15: Trondheim (NOR)
March 18-19: Schonach (GER)

Two World Championships
Additionally, the IBU World Championships take place in Hochfilzen (AUT) from February 8-19, and the FIS Nordic World Championships take place in Lahti (FIN) from February 21-March 5.

5-month marathon party
Also, the Ski Classics long-distance race series opens on November 27 with a team prologue in Pontresina, Switzerland, and continues through mid-April with the final taking place in Levi, Finland. For the 2017 season, there are 28 professional teams and almost 200 racers in the pro category.

For the first time, the race series ventures outside Europe, featuring the Vasaloppet China on January 4 as a part of the 2017 race schedule.

Read more about the 2017 Ski Classics season

The 2017 Ski Classics Schedule
Event 1: 27th November, Prologue Pontresina Switzerland 10 km
Event 2: 3rd December, La Sgambeda Livigno Italy 35km
Event 3: 4th January, Changchun Vasaloppet China 50km
Event 4: 14th January, Kaiser Maximilian Lauf Seefeld Austria 60km
Event 5: 21st January, La Diagonela St Moritz Switzerland 65km
Event 6: 29th January, Marcialonga Trentino Italy 70km
Event 7: 11th February, Toblach-Cortina Italy 50km
Event 8: 19th February, Jizerska Padesatka Czech Republic 50km
Event 9: 5th March, Vasaloppet Sweden 90km
Event 10: 18th March, Birkebeinerrennet Norway 54km
Event 11: 26th March, Årefjällsloppet Sweden 65 km
Event 12: 1st April, Reistadløpet Bardufoss Norway 50km
Event 13: 8th April, Ylläs-Levi Finland 55km

Each year, 15,800 racers embark on the 90 kilometer journey from Sälen to Mora. Photo: Vasaloppet

Each year, 15,800 racers embark on the 90 kilometer journey from Sälen to Mora. Photo: Vasaloppet

All in for the Ladies

The FIS is moving to develop a formal Nordic Combined program for women, eventually working it into the FIS World Cup and the Olympics. Photo: Nordic Focus.

The FIS is moving to develop a formal Nordic Combined program for women, eventually working it into the FIS World Cup and the Olympics. Photo: Nordic Focus.

The FIS is establishing a women’s continental cup in Nordic Combined starting next season, with formal World Championships to follow the next year.

At the 2016 International Ski Federation fall meeting, the FIS determined to establish a FIS ladies’ Continental Cup starting in the 2017/18 season, allowing women to participate in Nordic Combined at the FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships in 2019, a proposal to the IOC for its inclusion to the program of the Winter Youth Olympic Games 2020 in Lausanne (SUI), a first FIS ladies’ World Cup series in 2020/21 and the ambition to include ladies’ Nordic Combined at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing (CHN).

A draft of Continental Cup rules for ladies will be drawn up prior to the 2017 FIS spring meetings and the FIS Calendar Conference in Portoroz (SLO) next May. Furthermore, a mixed gender event will be considered for the FIS Youth Cup Finals 2017 in Trondheim (NOR). The proposal for women’s Nordic Combined program is still subject to approval by the FIS Council.

“I think I get it now”

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 F. Østberg (NOR) is aiming to step it up again for the 2016-17 season.

the 25-year-old Norwegian just finished an amazing season, her best to date. On May 1, Østberg formally started preparing for the 2016-17 season, aiming to step it up yet another notch. But she admits she has needed some time just to let the season sink in.

“There was a while where I literally couldn’t believe it was real, and it lasted a little into the spring, but I’m starting to realize it now,” Østberg said to NTB last week.

At the 2014 Olympics in Sochi (RUS), she earned the silver medal in the sprint and helped Norway to gold in the team sprint. At the 2015 World Championships in Falun (SWE) she helped Norway to gold in the team sprint again. This season, she has dominated the Wold Cup podium, week after week.

“It was unreal. Prior to the 2015-16 season, I hadn’t been on the World Cup podium for a distance race at all, and this season, I was pretty much on the podium every weekend throughout the entire winter. In tours and regular World Cups,” she says of the season that became her major World Cup breakthrough.

Østberg, who comes from the small town of Gjøvik, says that even for family and friends and those who know her really well, it hasn’t been easy to put words to what they’ve seen this season.

“I’m sure some expect that I will take the same giant leaps next winter, but I’m getting close to the top now, and the higher you get, the more difficult it becomes to take the next steps,” Østberg explains.

“It’s actually not realistic to make similar gains next season, but my goal for the upcoming season is to keep improving,” she says.

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