Rocket start to the season for the young talents

Helene Marie Fossesholm and Tiril Liverud Knudsen after the 10-kilometer skate race at Beitostølen on Sunday. Photo: Madshus

Helene Marie Fossesholm (NOR) went straight for the podium at the FIS cross-country season opener, while Tara Gerharty-Moats (USA) won both the Nordic Combined events at Beitostølen (NOR).

18-year-old Fossesholm parked the World Cup elite at the FIS season opener at Beitostølen, where she was third in both the distance races this weekend.

In Saturday’s 10-kilometer classic race, the first FIS distance race of the season, she was only 10 seconds behind Heidi Weng (NOR) in second place, and about a minute behind Therese Johaug (NOR) who won the race. In the 10-kilometer skate race on Sunday, Fossesholm was just half a minute behind Johaug in first place, and less than two seconds behind Weng.

“It was one of those times where everything just lined up perfectly, but at the same time, it was brutal,” Fossesholm said.

For ambitious junior, the podium finishes provided a huge boost of confidence.

“The first races of the season are always special, and while I generally don’t get too nervous, this is the first opportunity to see where you match up after the dryland season. I feel like I’ve made significant progress this summer, but racing is where you get the answers. Beitostølen always attracts a lot of the best skiers in the world, and because these events determine the national team selection for the upcoming World Cup opener and early season World Cups, a lot of the racers are peaking for this and are really eager to ski fast,” Fossesholm said.

“My overall goal for the season opener was to be closer to Therese, and I did that. In the classic race I was a minute behind her and in the skate race only half a minute behind this year, where I was over two minutes behind in both those races last year. The results this weekend prove that I have been doing some things right leading up to this season,” she said.

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Helene Marie Fossesholm during the 10-kilometer skate race at Beitostølen on Sunday. Photo: Madshus

Fossesholm, who raced her first international 10-kilometer at Beitostølen last year, had her biggest hopes for the distance events on Saturday and Sunday.

“Last year, the 10-kilometer races here were the first time I skied that distance at the international senior level. This time I knew more about what to expect and how to best portion my energy. Since then, the 10-kilometer races have become one of my favorite distances,” said Fossesholm, and explained:

“You almost never race 5-kilometer events at the senior level anyway, but I also find that the 5-kilometer races so short that they are almost a full sprint and I often end up skiing a bit frenzied. While the 10-kilometer races also require a lot of speed, I feel like I have more time to get into the flow and I tend to ski better and more relaxed. It’s still really brutal, and I’m always totally cooked at the finish, but at the same time, I love that feeling of having put it all out there.”

In the sprint race on Friday, Fossesholm was 20th.

“I want to become a better all-round skier, and hope to improve my sprint results too. So while I had my biggest expectations for the distance events, I went into the sprint with the same attitude,” she said.

Also, Madshus racer Hedda Østberg Amundsen (NOR) posted two top-10 finishes this weekend: she was ninth in the classic sprint race on Friday, and 10th in the 10-kilometer classic on Saturday. On Sunday, the 21-year-old was 18th in the 10-kilometer skate race on Sunday. Tiril Liverud Knudsen (NOR) was sixth in the 10-kilometer skate race on Sunday, 17th in the classic race on Saturday, and 25th in the sprint on Friday.

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Tiril Liverud Knudsen during the sprint qualifier at Beitostølen on Friday. Photo: Madshus

On the men’s side, Vebjørn Turveit (NOR) and Harald Østberg Amundsen (NOR) both delivered encouraging results at the season opener, finishing seventh and eighth, respectively, in the 15-kilometer skate race on Sunday. Turtveit was also eighth in the 15-kilometer classic race on Saturday, where Amundsen was 23rd.

Three victories in two weekends
In Nordic Combined, Tara Geragthy-Moats (USA) impressed with no less than two victories in two days. Saturday, she won the 2.5-kilometer FIS competition by 16.2 seconds. Sunday, she won the 5-kilometer competition at Beitostølen, which also served as the Norwegian National champioships, with no less than one minute and 2.6 seconds to spare to the second-place finisher.

“I felt very strong and has super speedy skis all weekend,” Geragthy-Moats said after her double victory at Beitostølen.

The 26-year-old, who joined Team Madshus prior to this season, started her on-snow race season with first place at the FIS Nordic Combined cup opener in Falun (SWE) a week ago, but this weekend her first time racing at Beitostølen.

“It was a real honor to be part of the event at Beitostølen, and it was fun to have our races on TV. I had seen the season opener races at Beitostølen on TV for many years. It was incredible to be part of the competition this year. It’s only nationals, but it’s truly a world class event,” Geragthy-Moats said, adding that all the jumping for this week’s competitions were completed in Falun last weekend.

Geragthy-Moats, is defining the sport and setting the standards as well as being a role model for girls who want to pursue Nordic Combined. Last year, she won every Nordic combined race she entered, and did so by leaving a solid gap to the rest of the competitors.

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Tara Geragthy-Moats won both the Nordic Combined competitions at Beitostølen this weekend. Photo: Madshus