With the 2014/2015 season officially in the rearview, FasterSkier is excited to unveil its annual award winners for this past winter. Votes stem from the FS staff, scattered across the U.S. and Canada, and while not scientific, they are intended to reflect a broader sense of the season in review.
Marit Bjørgen, Norway
Marit Bjørgen is the undeniably the queen of skiing. Just take a look at her stats from her long career:
- Since 2003 Bjørgen has earned 153 World Cup podiums, 93 of which were victories.
- In her 36 World Championships appearances she earned 22 podiums, including 14 wins
- She garnered 10 olympic medals over the course of four games, six of which are gold
Impressed? We are too, but for someone of Bjørgen’s stature it takes a little more than that to win international skier of the year. Yes, she took the overall World Cup title in the 2014/2015 season and added three more World Championships medals to her name, but perhaps her biggest accomplishment of the year came in January.
Before this past season Bjørgen had never won the Tour de Ski, and on Jan. 11 she did just that. Entering the final climb with a large lead, the Norwegian clocked the third-fastest time to cross the finish line at Alpe Cermis ahead of teammates Therese Johaug and Heidi Weng by over a minute-and-a-half. The win marked the final barrier in Bjørgen’s search for complete dominance.
“It is a big victory for me. To win the FIS Tour de Ski has been a goal for me for a long time. It took me nine years to achieve it,” Bjørgen said to FIS after her win.
The 34-year-old will return to the Tour de Ski and the World Cup circuit in the upcoming season. Maybe this year her goal should be to win every race she enters.
Petter Northug, Norway
Whether you hate to love him or love to hate him, it’s hard to deny that nordic skiing’s bad-boy is at the top of his skiing game. In a year surrounded by controversy (much of which was created by the skier himself) Northug walked away from the 2015 World Championships in Falun, Sweden with four gold medals.
Roughly a year ago, Northug crashed in a drunken driving incident. As a result he was sentenced to 50 days in prison and 180,000 kroner in fines, in addition to losing driving privileges. At one point it was unclear whether Northug would compete in the entirety of the season, but after the sentencing he was given the possibility of serving his jail time later in the year. While it’s impossible to say whether he learned from the incident, Northug entered the season more subdued than his normal self. Even during his biggest wins, the often overly boastful Norwegian refrained from showy acts such as his 2011 finishing snowplow. At times he would even stay behind in the finish area to congratulate fellow competitors finishing minutes behind him.
At Worlds, Northug brought his best skiing to the trails of the Lugnet Stadium. In each of his four wins the 29-year-old demonstrated passionate and tactful skiing. All those in attendance could tell that he wasn’t just trying to win a medal, he was attempting to be the best skier in the world.
Whether or not he’s the best skier in the world remains to be seen, but his four World Championships golds and this third place standing in the overall World Cup rankings was enough to earn him FasterSkier’s international skier of the year award, in addition to the title of performance of the year for his come-from-behind 50 k win.
While the controversy continues to swirl around the Norwegian as he negotiates a spot on the National Team, he plans to continue racing in some form in the 2015/2016 season.
Other 2015 FS Awards: Junior | Collegiate | Nordic Combined | Biathlon | Para Nordic | Breakthrough | Coach | Continental | International Performance | Cross Country Performance | Biathlon Performance | Nordic Combined Performance