The Blink Ski Festival’s famed Lysebotn Opp hill climb returned on Thursday, and with it, a familiar name landed at the top of the results.
After serving an 18-month ban from ski racing and subsequently missing the 2018 Winter Olympics, Norway’s Therese Johaug is back.
The 30-year-old Johaug won Thursday’s rollerski hill climb in a record time of 31 minutes, 46.3 seconds, while Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla finished 1:47.5 minutes back in second.
Kalla, 31, won last year’s Lysebotn Opp in 33:18.3, telling NRK at the time that “it’s been long since I’ve been in this good a shape in July.” Kalla’s 2017/2018 season went on to be one of her best. She racked up 10 individual wins, including a gold medal in the Olympic skiathlon.
If Kalla is using her the past year and half as a springboard for the upcoming season, Johaug might be considered the antithesis to the Swede. The year and half competition bar behind her, Johaug appears ready to move forward.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all this, it’s that you should never rely on anyone, period,” Johaug told Newsinenglish.no. “It’s terrible, but that’s the way it is.”
Her suspension spurned from a positive test to the banned substance Clostebol acetate, which was present in a lip cream she had been prescribed by her doctor.
Following Johaug and Kalla on Thursday, Sweden’s Ebba Andersson claimed the third spot on the podium, finishing 3.9 seconds behind her compatriot Kalla and 1:51.4 behind Johaug.
Norway’s Haga Ragnhild placed fourth (+2:21.6) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg was fifth (+2:48.9), Austria’s Teresa Stadlober finished sixth (+3:05.7), Russia’s Yulia Belorukova seventh (+3:52.4), Norway’s Kari Øyre Slind eighth (+4:05.0), and Russia’s Elena Soboleva ninth (+4:14.1) and Yana Kirpichenko 10th (+4:26.2). Finland’s Krista Parmakoski finished exactly ten seconds outside the top ten in 11th (+4:36.2). Forty-seven women finished the senior women’s race.
In the senior men’s Lysebotn Opp that followed, two Norwegians battled up front, with reigning Olympic skiathlon champ Simen Hegstad Krüger ultimately winning the race for the first time in 27:53.2. Another national team member and 2018 Olympian (and last year’s Lysebotn Opp winner), Hans Christer Holund finished 3.9 seconds back for second place, and Norway swept the podium with Simen Andreas Sveen in third (+16.0).
Rounding out the top 10 were Norwegians Vebjørn Turtveit in fourth (+51.7), Martin Johnsrud Sundby in fifth (+52.6), France’s Clement Parisse in sixth (+1:12.4), Norway’s Henrik L’Abée-Lund in seventh (+1:21.1), France’s Adrien Backscheider in eighth (+1:24.7), Russia’s Artem Maltsev in ninth (+1:31.4) and Canada’s Alex Harvey in 10th (+2:02.1).
American Ian Torchia, who graduated from Northern Michigan University and was renominated to the U.S. Ski Team’s development team this spring, placed 13th (+2:17.2) out of 91 in the men’s field. The 22 year old has been training and traveling in Europe since early July.
Canada’s Evan Palmer-Charrette finished 57th on Thursday (+5:53.4), Scott James Hill was 63rd (+6:29.7), and Bob Thompson 76th (+8:48.3).
Racers in the Blink Ski Festival head to downtown Sandnes on Friday for rollerski sprints.