Davos, Switzerland – There is no doubt that the Norwegian women’s ski team is currently the best in the world.
On Saturday morning, during the 15 k individual start freestyle in Davos, Switerland, they absolutely dominated the leader board, putting six women in the top ten, and taking the first four places.
Surprising no one, Marit Bjoergen (NOR) crossed the line with the fastest time, leaving Vibeke Skofterud the silver medal, 41.8 seconds back. Therese Johaug finished 42.2 seconds back of Bjoergen for third, securing the podium for the Norwegian women.
Young 22 year old Marthe Kristoffersen finished fourth, while Kristen Stoermer Steira was sixth.
Only Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) was able to put a dent into the Norwegian armour, finishing fifth, a long 1 minute 26.4 seconds back of her Norwegian rival.
But in the early stages of the race, it wasn’t the Norwegians who appeared dominant, but the Americans.
Holly Brooks (USA) held the best time through the first time check for a significant portion of the race, with Kikkan Randall (USA) and Liz Stephen not far behind – at least until the Norwegians showed up.
“Of course it’s always fun to hear that you’re in the lead but you have to put that in perspective,” said Brooks of her fast start in an interview with Fasterskier after the race.
“I wasn’t super worried [about fading], because I felt like I was in control,” she said.
In the end, at the 4 k mark Brooks has the 7th fastest time, and was looking comfortable, but behind her the inter-Norwegian battle was heating up. First Kristoffersen bettered the early lead times set by Charlotte Kalla (SWE) and Kowalczyk, followed by Johaug, and finally Bjoergen.
Bjoergen then took the race over, putting big time gaps back to Johaug and Skofterud with ease, and pulling up before the line to celebrate on her way to her 49th career World Cup victory.
“I had a very good feeling today,” said Bjoergen after the race.
“I kept good technique at the beginning of the race and maintained speed in the flat section.”
On the heavy climbing course, it appeared Johaug was going to be a solid lock for second, as she went through every time check in second, and looked strong. With a 5.6 second lead over Skofterud at 11.5 k, the race was still on, and after Johaug crossed the line, Skofterud hammered down the finishing straight almost exactly a minute later, stick out her toe to take the silver away from the ‘Energizer Bunny’.
“The hills were really tough,” said Johaug in an interview with FasterSkier after the race.
“It was a really good race for me today.”
But Johaug didn’t hide her disappointment with letting second place slip away from her.
“Of course, I was number three, I was just .4 of a second back of Skofterud, but I’m really happy with my race and I think I did the best I could today,” she said.
Of the strong showing of Norwegian women today and this season, Johaug attributed it to having a good team atmosphere.
“We are training a lot together,” she said. “We push each other a lot in the training.”