Norwegian Martin Johnsrud Sundby is back on top following a disappointing Olympics, winning the men’s 15 k freestyle in Lahti, Finland.
Sundby entered the Olympics as the overall World Cup leader after winning the 2014 Tour de Ski, but managed just a bronze in the opening skiathlon in Sochi, before notching a thirteenth and two fourths.
He took a measure of revenge today, however, besting Sweden’s Daniel Richardsson by 10.7 seconds with Alexander Legkov of Russia another half second back in third.
Legkov won the Olympic 50 k in which Sundby was fourth, and Richardsson took third in the 15 k classic, arguably Sundby’s strongest event, and was part of the gold medal winning relay team.
“I wanted to ski good today,” Sundby told FIS News after the race. “I was very motivated to succeed again.”
Shut out of the medals in four of six Olympic races, the trip to Russia was disaster for the Norwegians. Sundby, however is now looking ahead with the goal of earning his first overall World Cup title.
“The Games did not go the way I wanted, so I wanted to be ready to fight for the yellow bib,” he said after the race.
Sundby led from 3.4 k on, trailing only Great Brittain’s Andrew Musgrave at the first checkpoint 1.5 k into the race.
The Norwegian made his move with approximately 3 k to go. Until that point, both Legkov and Richardsson stayed within just a few seconds of the top spot, but between 11.3 and 13.4 k, Sundby extended his lead to 10 seconds, cementing the victory.
Richardsson overcame a 2.2 second deficit on Legkov over the last 1.6 k to take second.
Legkov said he felt “very good” in the race, but that it was “not easy to concentrate on the World Cup again after the gold medal in Sochi.”
Richardsson also felt good, similarly pleased to maintain form after the Olympics.
With warm temperatures, the course was soft and icy, but according to Sundby, it did not break down further during the race.
“I think it was the same for everybody. There was not a big difference during the laps,” he said.
Sundby now leads the overall World Cup by 388 points over teammate Chris Andre Jespersen. Legkov is in third, 441 back.
– Jespersen did not race for Norway
– With Anders Glørssen in fourth, Finn Hågen Krogh in fifth and Sjur Røthe in sixth, Norway placed four skiers in the top six. Norway ended the day with seven in the top thirteen.
– Early leader Musgrave finished 27th.
– 20-year-old Florian Notz of Germay was 7th in his first World Cup race. He was 10th in the 15 k classic at U23 Championships.
– Olympic sprint bronze medalist, Emil Jönsson of Sweden finished 30th.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.