Drammen, Norway – While in the US, the story of the day was Andy Newell’s 3rd place finish, Emil Joensson (SWE) and Marit Bjoergen (NOR) both skied to impressive victories in the tough Drammen field.
A classic sprint in Norway is a recipe for the strongest field on the World Cup circuit. With Norway holding a number of additional Nations Cup start spots, just getting into the heats is tough.
Joensson left nothing to chance, and burned through the qualifier as usual and posted the fastest time. Joensson went on to win his quarterfinal and semifinal, both just in front of Newell, and then skied away from Petter Northug and Newell to take the victory.
Joensson was coming off a disappointing Olympics in which he failed to reach the sprint final after entering the race as the favorite.
“It feels good to win here in Drammen,” said a happy Joensson. “The crowd was amazing – cheering us all the way. I had a good finish and broke the dominance of the Norwegians here. After the Olympics I felt not so good, so it is good to be back in shape.”
Northug qualified in second and ended the day in that same place. The result gives the Norwegian some breathing room over Lukas Bauer in the overall World Cup standings, and also moved him up to 2nd in the Sprint Cup.
“I am very happy about my race even though I was second,” Northug told media. “Emil Joensson was stronger in double polling.”
Northug edged out Newell in a close finish, though the .1 second margin was big enough that a lunge for the line was not necessary.
Overall the Nowegian men placed 8 in the top 16, but managed only two in the final. Erik Brandsdal was 4th.
Northug’s younger brother Thomas qualified for the heats, but failed to advance out of the quarterfinals.
Bjoergen Continues Winning Ways
Bjoergen won her 2nd straight individual World Cup since the Olympics. She qualified in 6th, won her quarterfinal going away, and advanced out of her semifinal behind Justyna Kowalczyk (POL).
Kowalczyk crashed in the final, and Bjoergen skied clear of 2nd place finisher Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) to claim the win.
“It is just amazing to ski here,” said Bjoergen. “The crowd was awesome and I’m very happy about my victory. I feel very well these days,so that everything is working out. To win here in Drammen is great.”
Saarinen was pleased with her result, especially considering she is coming off a post-Olympic illness.
Pirjo Murnanen capped a strong day for Finland taking 3rd.
“I’m really satisfied with my race today. I had amazing skis, felt good and could show at the end my strength.”
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.