2009-2010 Nations Cup Ranking: 1st (9899 pts)
2010-2011 Nations Cup Ranking: 1st (11397 pts)
Men: 1st (4722 pts)
Women: 1st (6675 pts)
2011/2012 World Cup Team
Tord Asle Gjerdalen
Petter Northug Jr
Martin Johnsrud Sundby
Kristian Tettli Rennemo
Ola Vigen Hattestad
John Kristian Dahl
Kristin Stoermer Steira
Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg
Maiken Caspersen Falla
What You May Have Missed Last Season
Regardless of nation affiliation, Therese Johaug was possibly the highlight of the entire World Cup season. Whether you call her ‘Go-Haug’, the ‘Energizer Bunny’, or ‘that tiny blonde chick who never seems to get tired’, Johaug had a massive bounce-back season, churning out top results over the course of the entire year.
She won two Stage World Cups, including a commanding one-minute lead on the Final Climb up Alpe Cermis during the Tour de Ski, which brought her up to second in the event.
It was the same hill-climbing prowess that catapulted Johaug to victory at World Championships in Oslo, where she pulled away from Marit Bjoergen and Justyna Kowalczyk to become World Champion in the 30 k skate. Most importantly, Johaug’s prowess broke up the Bjoergen-Kowalczyk club, and introduced a new power into womens skiing.
With Bjoergen knocking the stuffing out of every single woman on the circuit this year, and Johaug stepping up to a new level, the Norwegians have an unbeatable 1-2 punch in women’s skiing. Add in the aging but not-quite-done Kristen Stoermer Steira, and one of Astrid Jacobsen, Marthe Kristofferesen, or Vibeke Skofterud, and it’s not hard to understand why the Norwegian women won every single 4-woman relay they entered this year (they didn’t bother going to Rybinsk, Russia).
Speaking of Stoermer Steira, the lanky distance-specialist was on her way to yet another wooden medal (that would be a fourth place finish) at a major event, when Charlotte Kalla stepped on her pole, putting her to the ground.
After being called on the carpet by FasterSkier last year for terrible distance skiing ability, the Norwegian men didn’t really rise to the occasion. (And yes, we know that the Norwegian World Cup team probably doesn’t read FasterSkier season previews.)
Regardless, Northug was once again alone in the top 15 of the Overall World Cup standings, while Ola Vigen Hattestad was 18th, and Eldar Roenning was 19th – again, that’s just not good enough for a country like Norway.
However, there were flashes of brilliance, as Roenning finished in the top 10 every time a 15 k classic popped up on the scheduled, including a silver-medal winning effort at World Championships, just ahead of Martin Johnsrud Sundby. And 21 year old Finn Haagen Krogh had a stellar World Cup Final in Sweden, where he won the second last stage before falling to Northug on the final day of racing.
Everyone knows Northug is fantastic skier, so much so that it barely rates mentioning at this point. His finish-line and mid-race exuberancehas almost overtaken his skiing ability in news-worthiness. But Northug might want to put things in perspective – the all-time World Cup win leader is Bjorn Daehlie at 46 victories, and Northug only has a piddly ten. And if the
Norwegian biathletes have their way, he won’t be picking up another one this weekend.
What You Need To Know for This Season
The vaunted Norwegian Sprintgutta is without a doubt the most bad-ass ski institution in existence. Between their ridiculous website, their unbelievable strength training videos, and their on-course antics, it impossible not to get excited about the men of ‘Den Roede Arme’ – especially when they pack four of their members into the top 15 in the Sprint Cup standings.
Marit Bjoergen became the all-time leader in World Cup wins last season with an astounding 46, and the superstar had one hell of a season (just look at that FIS results page – it can’t get much better), before sitting out the Tour de Ski, where her main rival, Justyna Kowalczyk took the victory.
But this year, Bjoergen isn’t letting the Tour de Ski slide – the dominant Norwegian who has won just about everything there is to win in cross-country skiing is focusing on the Tour, and if it goes as well as the last two major events she focused on (Vancouver Olympics, 2011 Oslo World Champs), there won’t be any room left in her trophy cabinet.
Former World Junior Champion Marte Elden has opted to take some time away from skiing at just 25 years old. She had an outstanding World Cup season in 2010-2011, finishing 20th in the World Cup Overall, and a shocking ninth in the Tour de Ski. Despite those stellar results, she pulled the plug due to health concerns.
Ola Vigen Hattestad, who has been a force on the sprint circuit the last couple of years, is also doing the Tour de Ski this year. While his distance skiing is nothing to write home about, it should make things harder for the all-around athletes to get sprint points, making things exciting.
In just her fifth season on the World Cup, the 23 year old Johaug finished fourth in the World Cup Overall, second in the Tour de Ski, picked up two World Championship gold medals, and has 11 career World Cup podiums. To say that the future is bright for Norway is an understatement.
Johaug is also a headline generator – FasterSkier could probably write an entire preview just about all the stuff she’s done over the summer, which includes gymnastics, watching her own race with Bjoergen, and climbing a mountain.
Who You Should Watch
With Norway, it’s pretty tough to predict stand-out performances. This is mainly due to the depth of the team, but also because there are so many that it’s tough to define what truly is a ‘breakout season’ for a young Norwegian.
However, FasterSkier doesn’t shy away from making predictions, so this season we’re going to bank on young Sindre Bjornestad Skar as the up and comer to watch.
The Norwegian squad is so deep that this 19 year old junior likely won’t get too many World Cup starts, but he was one of the strongest Norwegian juniors last season. Skar won the 10 k skate at World Junior Championships in Otepaa, Estonia, last winter, as well as finished 10th in the sprint, and 14th in the pursuit.