Erik Bjornsen thought he was done for. The 21-year-old U.S. Ski Team and APU skier had gone out too hard, too early in Monday’s 6 k freestyle hill climb before the real ascent up Sugar Bowl Resort even started. Somehow, he found at least three more gears and beat Kris Freeman to the top for his first SuperTour Finals title.
Gaiazova Shakes Off Jet Lag to Dominate Canadian Nationals 10 k Classic; McMurtry Captures First National Title in 15 k
Fresh off a flight from Sweden, Dasha Gaiazova entered her first race of Canadian Nationals firing all cylinders, beating Japan’s Chisa Obayasi by nearly 1 1/2 minutes in Tuesday’s 10 k classic interval start in Whistler, B.C. Brent McMurtry captured his first national title in the men’s 15 k, 23 seconds ahead of Norway’s Rune Ødegärd.
It wouldn’t quite be accurate to call Marit Bjørgen’s World Cup Finals pursuit performance on Sunday a formality. Sure, Norway’s 12-time World Champion started the 10-kilometer freestyle race a full minute and 20 seconds ahead of the field, with teammate Therese Johaug being the only one that could potentially test her. And yes, chances were Johaug would never catch her, but there’s always several races within a race – and Bjørgen had one going from the start.
Just when spectators thought he might falter, Petter Northug rebounded from a nearly five-second deficit midway through Friday’s 2.5 k prologue to win his second-straight race of World Cup Finals by 2.1 seconds over teammate Pal Golberg. Norway showed its strength on the modified course, putting six in the top seven.
Petter Northug sheltered himself from the wind then surged to the front when it counted, winning each of his heats and ultimately Wednesday’s final for his first sprint victory in Stockholm. The win put him ahead of Alexander Legkov and Dario Cologna in the overall World Cup standings and in prime position for the rest of the World Cup Finals.
Gabriela Soukalova didn’t want to race Thursday morning. Who could blame her? It was freezing in Siberia and she was set to start a 7.5 k sprint that evening. The Czech overcame her dread and won the IBU World Cup race over Germany’s Andrea Henkel and Miriam Gössner. Susan Dunklee led the Americans in 29th.
Marit Bjørgen’s not unbeatable, but she’s a pretty tough nut to crack. Therese Johaug proved its possible in a 10 k freestyle, winning the individual start on Tuesday for her second individual gold at World Championships. Yulia Tchekaleva broke through for Russia in third, German biathlete Miriam Gössner just missed a medal in fourth and American Liz Stephen captured fifth.
A year after placing fifth in the 15 k individual at World Championships, American Susan Dunklee finished a solid 15th on her birthday despite falling and busting her rifle stock on the last lap. Canadian Rosanna Crawford raced through the range for a career-best 17th at her first World Championships.
Sophie Caldwell hung tough for second place in Sunday’s skate sprint in Estonia, just 0.14 seconds out of first, for her best Scando Cup result. Jennie Bender had another solid day in 11th and three other American women made the top 30. On Saturday, Ben Saxton led the U.S. men in 33rd in the classic sprint.