The coach for the Norwegian men’s sprint team was, despite Tor Arne Hetland’s second place in the World Cup sprint opener in Dusseldorf, Germany, not at all satisfied with the rest of the team’s performance.
-Tor Arne Hetland skied a very good race. He didn’t pay attention enough after one lap in the final and was suddenly last, but was able to miraculously move up and showed that he had the fastest sprint in the finale, said Aune after the race.
Sweden’s Mikael Ostberg took the lead from the start in the finale. Hetland was right behind the Swede, but halfway into the final both were passed by (the winner) Peter Larson and Christian Zorzi (third) of Italy.
Copyright: Marco Felgenhauer
Aune was very happy about Hetland’s race, but not at all satisfied with only two (Norwegian) skiers advancing from the prolog.
– Our goal is getting two skiers to every finale in the World Cup. We are not satisfied when we are not able to achieve that, said Aune.
He felt that Trond Iversen however skied a good race, advanced to the quarterfinal and ended up last in his heat.
– Trond has been sick, so that was a good race. Arve Skaren and Johan Kjolstad skied better in the prolog than they have ever done in World Cup racing and ended up in 20 and 23rd place.
– Borre Naess has a cold. It was a calculated risk to race him. Krister Tronsen had a bad day.
– Havard Bjerkeli and John Kristian Dahl skied well below their capacity. It might be that they are struggling with the effect of the recent altitude camp. They were also a little unlucky with their ski choice. He underlines however that the rest of the team had very good skis.
Aune gave however Bjerkeli a vote of confidence by placing him on the team with Hetland in Sunday’s world Cup sprint.
– Our goal is to win tomorrows relay, said Aune on Saturday.
The next day, Tor Arne Hetland dominated the last lap in the men’s World Cup team sprint relay and secured the victory for the Norwegian team. His teammate was Havard Bjerkeli.
– This was a power-demonstration by Hetland. He is skiing with a strength and confidence that he has not had before, said sprint coach Ulf Morten Aune after the race.
Berkeli and Hetland won their semi-finale heat after having tagged off in second before the last leg. Both skiers raced well in the finale and continued with the good tag-offs they had done in the semi-finale. Sweden was leading ahead of Norway at the start of the last leg in the final.
Hetland started his decisive move with half a lap to go. Yesterday’s winner Peter Larsson of Sweden tripped at the same time in his own skis and Hetland got a gap and demolished the rest of the field toward the finish line. Norway won by 2.4 seconds while Germany took second and third.
After yesterday’s second place where Hetland didn’t quite manage to win coming from behind, he had decided to stay in the front ahead of the finale finish sprint today, said coach Aune.
– We had agreed that he was going to approach the finish sprint in first or second place, said Aune after the race. The strategy worked well and no one could threaten Norway at the finish today.