With less bravado then Petter Northug’s win provided the day before, Norway still stole host country Sweden’s thunder on Saturday in Bruksvallarna, where Norwegian men swept the podium in the 15 k skate race.
Niklas Dyrhaug claimed the win by 2.9 seconds over Daniel Myrmæl Helgestad, a relatively unknown 28-year-old with just a handful of World Cup starts to his name. Chris Andre Jespersen placed third, +9.8.
“I never expect it, but I was hoping to be fighting for the victory today,” Dyrhaug told media after the race.
The Swedish effort was led by Anders Svanebo. The boyfriend of Charlotte Kalla and a rollerski World Champion, Svanebo stated before this season that he wanted to also focus on winter competitions this season. He made the Swedish “A” team for the first time in May.
Dyrhaug and Svanebo ended up skiing a substantial part of the end of the race together thanks to the loop length.
“I had thought that I would get help from him, but it ended up that I took three turns instead,” Svanebo told Expressen.se.
“I got good help from Anders Svanebo, I have to thank him,” Dyrhaug said to Sweden’s SVT broadcaster.
With some of the top Swedes sitting out the race – Marcus Hellner is competing at home in FIS races in Gällivare with the American, Canadian, and Russian men, and Calle Halfvarsson is sick – it was not completely surprising that Norway would dominate the day.
But some top Norwegians weren’t racing either. With Northug sitting the day out and teammates like Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Sjur Røthe, who had won the previous weekend in Beitostolen, Norway, it was a strong but not complete team by Norway.
Dyrhaug still managed to get in a jab at the Swedes, even if it was more subtle than what Northug had said the day before.
“It was good to get started, although the shape was a bit ‘crappy’ today,” he told Norway’s VG newspaper. “I was heavy today, some more weighed down than I had hoped for. Luckily this was a relatively unimportant race. I must raise my level if I will be with [the leaders] next weekend.”
The message? Winning in Bruksvallarna won’t cut it on the World Cup.
Sweden did have the last laugh in the women’s 10 k, however, as Svanebo’s partner Kalla took a 35.8-second win over teammate Stina Nilsson. Ida Ingemarsdotter was third, +1:03.7, and Slovenia’s Lea Einfalt was the only non-Swede to break into the top ten, placing sixth (+1:30.2).
Kalla told SVT that she was happy she could focus entirely on her own race and not be distacted.
“It was nice to start early in the seeded field and do my own race,” she said.
That will change next weekend, when Kalla goes to the World Cup and faces top international skiers for the first time this season. While Dyrhaug and some teammates came to Bruksvallarna, none of the Norwegian national team women made the same trip.
Racing continues in Bruksvallarna on Sunday with freestyle sprint competitions.
Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.