Tour de Ski Stage 5 (Oberstdorf, Germany): 10/15 k freestyle mass starts
In one of the more unconventional stages of the Tour de Ski — a rainy, seven-lap, 14.7-kilometer men’s freestyle mass start, and a five-lap, 10.5 k women’s mass start (both of which were adapted to a shorter course after damage from Wednesday’s storm) — two Norwegians outlasted a tightly packed group of competitors to the finish, with Emil Iversen winning the men’s race and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg capturing her third-straight win in the women’s race on Thursday in Oberstdorf, Germany.
Iversen posted his first win of the season after hanging in the pack throughout the relatively flat race, with a maximum climb of 16 meters and total climb of 50 meters.
In the finishing stretch, he outsprinted fellow Norwegian Sindre Bjørnestad Skar by 0.4 seconds for the win in 29:49.8 minutes. Italy’s Francesco De Fabiani reached the podium in third, just 0.9 seconds out of first. Switzerland’s Dario Cologna kept his overall Tour lead in fourth place (+3.7) and Canada’s Alex Harvey came out on top of a photo finish for fifth with Great Britain’s Andrew Musgrave taking sixth and Norway’s Finn Hågen Krogh seventh, all 4 seconds after Iversen.
Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby placed eighth (+4.2), Germany’s Thomas Bing ninth (+4.9) and France’s Maurice Manificat 10th (+5.2).
Twenty-five skiers finished within 10 seconds of first, and 57 in the 67-man field ended up within 50 seconds of first.
Overall, Cologna continues to lead the Tour standings with two stages to go: a 15 k classic mass start on Saturday and 9 k freestyle hill climb on Sunday, both in Val di Fiemme, Italy. He is 53 seconds ahead of Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov, who placed 28th on Thursday, and 1:07.6 ahead of Sundby in third. Harvey remains in fourth, now 1:23.1 behind and 3.5 seconds ahead of Russia’s Alexander Bolshunov (+1:26.7), who finished 40th on Thursday after falling several times.
Erik Bjornsen led the U.S. men in 32nd (+11.7), Paddy Caldwell placed 39th (+15.5), and Andy Newell was 53rd (+43.2). Simi Hamilton did not start. Overall, Bjornsen is 20th in the Tour (+3:10.7), Caldwell 60th (+6:58.2) and Newell 65th (+9:37.1) out of 67, although this is expected to be Newell’s last stage of the Tour.
In the women’s race earlier in the day, Østberg secured a 1.9-second victory over her teammate, Maiken Caspersen Falla, a Norwegian sprint specialist. Østberg crossed the line first in 23:16.5 and Finland’s Krista Pärmäkoski joined the two Norwegians on the podium in third, 3.2 seconds out of first.
Switzerland’s Nathalie von Siebenthal finished 4.1 seconds back in fourth for her best World Cup result, Sweden’s Maria Nordström was fifth (+4.4) to tie her career best, Germany’s Nicole Fessel sixth (+5.5), Austria’s Teresa Stadlober seventh (+5.8), Norway’s Anne Kjersti Kalvå eighth (+6.5) for her first World Cup top 10, Russia’s Anastasia Sedova ninth (+6.7), and Sweden’s Emma Wiken 10th (+7.1). Norway’s Heidi Weng was another 0.1 seconds back in 11th (+7.2), and for the first time this season, no U.S. Ski Team members finished in the top 20.
Jessie Diggins placed 24th (+16.8), Sadie Bjornsen 26th (+20.8), Liz Stephen 28th (+24.5), and Rosie Brennan 36th (+52.7).
“Today was definitely a very different course than most due to the storm and trees falling down over the usual course!” Diggins wrote in an email to FasterSkier. “It was icy and flat, which meant that the pack stayed really tight together as there were no big climbs to break it up.
“Fortunately, I got into great position to sprint for the bonus seconds [on Lap 3],” she continued. “Unfortunately, 200 meters from the finish I hit ice and crashed hard into the boards, spinning around and losing quite a bit of time and places. But that happens sometimes in racing and I shook it off already!”
Østberg now leads the Tour standings by 57 seconds over Weng while Diggins is nearly 2 minutes back in third (+1:56.7). Pärmäkoski follows in fourth (+2:09.1), Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen is up to fifth (+2:34), Fessel is sixth (+2:39.8), while Bjornsen slipped two places to seventh (+2:47.0). Stephen is 27th overall (+5:12.2) and Brennan 33rd (+5:50.6) out of 43 women.
Ida Sargent and Sophie Caldwell did not start on Thursday and withdrew from the Tour to focus on the regular-season World Cup sprints next weekend in Dresden, Germany, which are also the focus for their U.S. teammates Kikkan Randall, Hamilton and Newell.