World Cup Report: Nove Mesto Recap, Oberstdorf Preview
The first distance weekend since before the break is in the books and the US Ski Team has brought in some new, and local, faces onto the World Cup scene. Alexander Bolshunov of Russia and Therese Johaug of Norway returned to unbeatable form again this weekend making quick work of the distance and pursuit races. While Minnesota natives Alayna Sonnesyn and Ian Torchia got their first World Cup starts of the season and are hoping to showcase their talents during period two World Cup starts.
- Jan 18 10km/15km Freestyle Individual
- Jan 19 10km/15km Classic Pursuit
It was another double win weekend for Bolshunov and Johaug as they swept the individual races and pursuit races. The pair showed there dominate form once again after taking a weekend off. They will look to build upon their overall point standings and finish up the season strong. In the 10km skate for the women Jessie Diggins would lead the USA to a fourth place finish just eight seconds shy of the podium. Rosie Brennan was the second finisher of the day for the US finishing in 17th. Brennanhas been putting together consistent top 20 results all season and is having one of her best all around seasons ever. Capping off the top three women for the US was Sadie Maubet Bjornsen. She finished in 26th position and looked to capitalize on Sunday’s pursuit race. Sonnesyn finished in 46th position but was not to far off of some of the early season best skiers. This was a really strong performance for her and she will look to build off of the results this weekend. In the overall, it was Johaug taking a commanding win over Russia’s Natalia Nepryaeva in second and Norway’s Heidi Weng in third. In the men’s field Bolshunov would secure the top podium spot with IIvo Niskanen, Finland, second and Norway’s Sjur Roethe in third. Bolshunov took control of the race early putting most of the top contenders splits in the dust. He would take yet another commanding victory in the distance competition. The US men only skied two men: APU’s David Norris and Torchia. Norris finished 27th on the day and Torchia finished in 67th. This was Torchia’s first World Cup start and we will get to see more of his distance racing in the coming weeks.
Side note: The men’s race had an abnormal amount of yellow cards (warnings) handed out for skiing in the wrong direction on the course. Emil Iversen of Norway actually did this twice and was DQed from the race. There was a section of the stadium where you had to switch from the outside lane to the inside lane and if you failed to do so, you received a yellow card. If you receive two yellow cards then you are DQed.
Johaug finished the second day right where she started it; in the lead in dominant fashion. Johaug won by a little over a minute to the next competitor. Nepryaeva was able to fight off Norway’s Invild Oestberg for second in a last lap battle. It was a tough day for some and a good day for others on the US women’s team who failed to move up in the pursuit. Diggins fell back to 10th position but Brennan moved up four positions to 13th and Maubet Bjornsen moved up six positions to 20th overall. Sonnesyn had a strong day for most of the race but ended up slipping down to 51st on the weekend. In the men’s field Bolshunov would repeat his win and ski to a dominant 45 second victory. The fight for second and third would come from a group of three. Johannes Klæbo would fight his way from 7th to second place in the pursuit. Skiing almost the entire race with Klæbo and finishing third was Simen Krueger of Norway. Roethe just missed out of the podium by a boot length and finished in 4th. Norris was able to stay on the edge of the top thirty taking the final spot in 30th. Torchia was able to move up the group four positions into 64th place.
- Jan 25 15km/30km Skiathlon
- Women start @ 3:00am CST
- Men start @ 5:00am CST
- Jan 26 Classic Sprints
- Finals start @ 4:45am CST
- Finals start @ 4:45am CST
Oberstdorf, Germany, will be the first sprint/distance race weekend of the year and we should see a large field for both races. The USST will have a lot of young and new faces competing again this weekend so watch out for the youth of XC skiing. It's also the venue for next years 2021 World Championships for cross country. This weekend will give athletes a chance to ski the course and get familiar with the racing style before next year’s championships.
About the author...
Chris Hecker is a Rex Wax representative and wax technician working on the World Cup this season for both cross-country and biathlon events. Hecker hails from Ham Lake, Minnesota, racing for Anoka high school and St. Scholastica College. Hecker will be providing regular updates on the World Cup racing scene this season. Chris can be reached at: