BEITOSTØLEN, Norway — Martin Johnsrud Sundby skied into his second victory in as many days in Beitostølen, winning Saturday’s 15-kilometer freestyle FIS race by 16.6 seconds over Petter Eliassen in second. Another Norwegian, Didrik Tønseth, who was second on Friday, placed third.
Sundby covered the course in 32:22.2, and told reporters after that he gave it “an 82 to 87 percent of max effort.”
After winning Friday’s 15 k classic by nearly 23 seconds, he had “a horrible long day,”, he told NRK, with a final drug test at 10:30 that night. That left him a little groggy heading into Saturday’s 15 k skate.
“I didn’t have any good feelings,” Sundby, 30, said. “My legs felt as if they were well over 30 years old today.”
“My legs felt as if they were well over 30 years old today.” — Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby, after winning his second-straight race in Beitostølen on Saturday.
But he found a way to lead very early on, starting last of 155 men on Saturday. Three seconds behind 2 k, he took control of the race and led by a comfortable margin for the remaining 13 k — increasing the gap as he went.
“I just felt like every push was a slow-motion effort, but I was able to capitalize on my strengths,” Sundby told reporters afterward.
“Technically, I stood well on my skis and won it,” he said to NRK.
Deep and competitive field
Behind him, there was a fierce fight for the remaining spots on the podium. Tønseth lost out on second to Eliassen by 2.7 seconds, and Norway’s Anders Gløersen and Kristian Tettli Rennemo tied for fourth, 3.3 seconds after Tønseth.
“I was one spot worse today, but it was really big for me to podium in the skate race,” Tønseth told FasterSkier. “I didn’t expect that.
“It’s important to ski fast here in order to be named for the World Cup team next week, so now I just hope to maintain my performance until Finland next week,” he added. “It’s always fun to ski fast, but it’s really just a prep for what’s coming next.”
Norway occupied all of the top 10 with France’s Maurice Manificat placing 11th.
Still a few pounds to go
Norway’s Petter Northug finished 23rd, more than a minute behind Sundby, but he didn’t sound worried about the gap.
“I still have a few steps and a few pounds to go in order to reach peak performance,” he told reporters after the race. “This is still training, but whenever you get a bib on, it becomes a tougher effort than just a hard intensity workout, and you see where you are in relation to your competitors.”
“I still have a few steps and a few pounds to go in order to reach peak performance. This is still training.” — Petter Northug, after placing 23rd in Saturday’s 15 k skate in Beitostølen, 1:01.7 behind the winner
Beitostølen’s races wrap up with a classic sprint on Sunday.
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.