Results from Norwegian National Championships
While the World Cup circuit takes a brief hiatus, a number of nations are holding their national championships during the break. For many international elite racers, these events are a large part of qualifying for the upcoming World Championships to be held in Val di Fiemme, Italy. In Norway, this year’s national championship races are particularly important. Unlike past years, the Norwegian men have not been even close to dominant in World Cup events. With no skiers who have proven themselves capable of consistently winning international races, the Norwegian team coaches are putting a lot of emphasis on the national championship results for team selection.
Odd-Bjrn Hjelmeset won today’s event, a 10 km classic race, in a time of 24:59. Frode Estil finished 7.1 seconds back in second place, and Espen Harald Bjerke was third — 24.7 seconds behind Hjelmeset. Many of the big names finished well back: Espen Bjervig was 10th, Thomas Alsgaard was 11th, Anders Aukland finished 15th, and Kristen Skjeldal was 16th. Note that three of the four skiers who won the 2002 Olympic relay gold medal finished outside of the top ten (Alsgaard, Aukland and Skjeldal). It should also be noted that 17 skiers all finished within a minute of Hjelmeset’s winning time.
Full results of the men’s race can be found here: <http://www.hego.no/resultat/nmski03/10mkr.txt
Bente Skari continued her winning season with another national championship title. She won the women’s 5 km race in a time of 14:45. Hilde Gjermundshaug Pedersen was second, 18.2 seconds back. Anita Moen finished third, 34.8 seconds behind Skari. After the race Bente told reporters that she felt today’s performance was good enough to win any international race, emphasizing her confidence going into the World’s.
Full results of the women’s race can be found here:<http://www.hego.no/resultat/nmski03/5kkr.txt