The 50km men’s classic race that brought the World Championships to a close was one of triumph for the Norwegian team. Here are some comments from the racers.
Weather Makes for a Difficult Race
Odd-Bjorn Hjelmeset was tired from all the races he has competed in at the Championships and saw the heavy snow fall during the 50km as a blessing. He felt it helped propel Norway to take the top three spots in the race.
-I had a bad day and was happy for the snow, he says.
It was good enough for the bronze.
Kristen Skjeldal on the other hand was not happy about the weather.
-This isn’t how the 50km is supposed to be. All you had to do was sit and wait for the final sprint. I was hoping for a faster pace because I never really have it in those final sprints, says Skjeldal.
But Skjeldal stresses that he was excited for those who did well.
Super Comeback for Anders Aukland
Anders Aukland was back in top shape just in time after a difficult season.
-This was amazingly fun, said Aukland right after he had crossed the finish line.
Aukland was troubled by a virus for large parts of the season, and admits it was difficult, especially around Christmas time.
-But I’ve had people around me that have backed me up and this race was the big goal.
-I just tried to ski as efficiently as possible. It went fast up the hills and slow on the flats. I concentrated on technique and used my energy at the right spots. Today you needed to have energy for the end and Frode Estil was unbeatable there, says the Norwegian.
-It is no coincidence that Anders did well today. He has had a detailed day to day training plan set up since he has been healthy after the Norwegian Championships, says team director Bjornar Hakensmoen.
The World Championship 50km was Aukland’s fifth race this season.
I Feel I Deserve This
Frode Estil skied to his first individual gold medal at a World Championship in the 50km, which became a stellar ending for the Norwegians at the Championships.
The 50km was held during a heavy snow storm and it caused the field to stay bunched up together right up to the last hill.
-It became a messy race and I just concentrated on the end, says Estil.
It was exactly there in the last hill that no one had a chance of passing Estil where he put the hammer down. It was his last minute surge that secured him the gold.
-It must be in my back. I always manage this pace change no matter how tired I am. It is a technique that I’ve worked on since I was a little kid, says Estil.
-I had amazingly good glide and I knew that if I was the first one down into the stadium I would have a good chance of winning. But I double-poled two extra meters across the finish line just to be sure, says the champion.
-Mass-starts aren’t the best on days like this, but they show that the strongest one wins in the end.
-What secrets do you have since you did so well at these Championships, asked a reporter.
-I’ll give you those secrets once I’ve retired and it’s possible that I’ll extend my carrier a little extra after this. But for now I’m going to celebrate with some cake and perhaps a little more, says a content Frode Estil.