Marit Bjørgen proved her dominance today by winning the 30 k classic at Holmenkollen by nearly two minutes ahead of second-place teammate Therese Johaug.
Teammates on the U.S. Ski Team and Alaska Pacific University, Kikkan Randall and Sadie Bjornsen tallied the best distance results of their respective careers on Sunday at Holmenkollen, the ultimate distance race of the season. Randall worked her way up and attacked late to finish 12th, and Bjornsen skied consistently with a pack of Norwegians to place 14th.
Daniel Richardsson of Sweden carefully waited until the last 800 meters to make his attack, winning the Holmenkollen 50 k. Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway led for much of the race, keeping the pace sky high. “I’ve never seen anything like that, where the best skier in the world decides to go not even 10 k into the race,” said Noah Hoffman.
How much skate skiing should be allowed in a classic sprint race? Quite a bit, if Wednesday’s race in Drammen, Norway was any indication. “I think classic skiing took a step backwards,” said USST Coach Matt Whitcomb. “I don’t think the line between what’s legitimate for classic technique was respected yesterday, and I think it opens a can of worms that makes the line very fuzzy now.”
Closing in on the finish it was Falla and Bjørgen neck and neck, with Nilsson gaining ground. At the line it was Falla’s foot that crossed before Bjørgen’s. Falla said after the race, “Marit [Bjørgen] and I train a lot together and Marit usually wins when we practice the finish. It is nice to beat her.”
Alex Harvey took 8th place in Sunday’s 15 k individual freestyle race in Lahti, Finland, proving that he’s still on form and hungry for results in the final weeks of the World Cup season. “Effort wise and everything it’s the race I’m the most proud of this year, it’s the race I get the most satisfaction out of, I was really happy with it,” said Harvey.
The first thing U.S. women’s coach Matt Whitcomb tweeted after Saturday’s freestyle sprint, the first World Cup since the Olympics: “We are back!” Randall had won another skate sprint to rise to the top of the World Cup sprint standings, and Sophie Caldwell joined her on the podium — the first time two U.S. women have shared an individual World Cup podium.
With the Olympics starting Thursday and jam-packed week behind us, it’s almost futile to try and recap it all. But here’s the lowdown of what happened: The Junior/U23 World Champion began in Val di Fiemme, Italy, the final World Cup weekend before the Olympics took place in Toblach, Italy and NorAm racing continued at the Eastern Canadian Championships in Cantly, Quebec.
If anyone was going to deny Kikkan Randall of her third-straight skate sprint win, a feat that hasn’t been achieved on the World Cup since Marit Bjørgen’s similar winning streak in 2006, it was most likely going to be Bjørgen. The 33-year-old Norwegian stayed calm and collected to do so, leading three Norwegians in the top four as Randall finished fifth in Sunday’s Toblach sprint.
Erik Bjornsen of the U.S. Ski Team broke through in Saturday’s 15 k classic individual start at the Toblach World Cup in Italy, two days after placing 17th the same event at U23 World Championships. Aside from Alex Harvey in fifth, the rest of the North American men placed outside the top 38 on a wet day marked by tricky conditions.