World Cup Report: Ski Tour Stages 1-3
We are slightly over half way through the Ski Tour and Therese Johaug and Paal Golberg of Norway have the early lead. With six races in eight days the athletes will be pushed to their limits. The fight in the men’s race is still close and could change in the next few days. On the women’s side it's Johaug who has a commanding lead having won all three races so far.
- Feb 15 10km/15km Freestyle Interval
- Feb 16 10km/15km Classic Pursuit
- Feb 18 Freestyle Sprint
It was all Norway who had a men and women’s podium sweep. Johaug led the charge for the women setting a blistering pace that no one could compete with. Heidi Weng was the closest finisher 45 seconds back. Weng held off teammate Invild Oestberg by 2 seconds, who finished in third. For the USA the women put two into the top ten. Jessie Diggins led the charge to an eighth place finish. Rosie Brennan cracked the top ten as well finishing in ninth. Sadie Maubet-Bjornsen rounded off the top three females and capped off a solid first day. In the men’s race Sjur Roethe was able to take a narrow victory over teammate Simen Hegsted-Krueger. Finn Haagen-Krogh was the third man to finish and was the final man to close out a complete Norwegian sweep in the first race of the Ski Tour. David Norris was once again the top finisher for the US men and is having his best international season to date. Norris finished in 36th put himself in a position to move up in the pursuit. Simi Hamilton was the second US male to finish and put together a strong race after some time off with a leg injury. Kevin Bolger round off the top three men finishing in 71st.
The men’s race came together as a small group towards the start of the race. A group of about 7-10 skiers took their turn at the front for the first half of the race. Towards the last two laps the pace crept up and skiers started to drop left and right until a group of five was able to break away. Golberg was able to out lunge Russia's Alexander Bolshunov for the win in a sprint to the finish. Martin Nyenget of Norway was able to come all the way from 11th place up to third and edged out the previous days winner, Roethe, for the last podium spot. Norris was able to move up 2 spots in the final standings to a 34th place finish. Hamilton was also able to slide up the rankings a few spots climbing to 43rd position. Ben Lustgarten was the third finisher for the men moving up 5 spots to 68th.
In the women’s race the podium stayed the same and Johaug dominated in typical fashion. The race for second and third was a tight one between Oestberg and Weng. They fought back and forth all day and in the end it was Weng who took the second place medal by a toe length over teammate Oestberg. Brennan and Diggins skied in a group of 11 for most of the race. Diggins led the group and tried to break away with little success. This ultimately came back to hurt Diggins as she didn’t have enough in the tank for the sprint to the finish. Brennan was the top finisher for the women in 9th place. Diggins fell back to 10th position and Maubet-Bjornsen moved up 3 spots into 19th.
The Are sprint was a unique one in that it took place on a downhill run. The athletes would jockey around the course for half the race and then the final sprint was on a long climb straight up the Alpine hill. At the end of the race athletes were taken down by snowmobile to the bottom of the course for the next races. The course was not built for the traditional sprinters and the results showed it. In the women’s race Johaug won the qualification and raced to the top of the podium by almost two seconds because of her climbing speed to the finish. No other racer was able to match her tempo on the final climb and sustain the pace. Weng also showed some strong form during the day and finished in second place in the final heat. Astrid Jacobsen of Norway closed out the third consecutive Norwegian sweep in the women’s Ski Tour. Diggins and Caldwell were able to squeeze their way into the semi finals but crashed and finished last in their respective heats. Diggins finished in 11th and Caldwell in 12th. The women were able to qualify three others to the heats with Julia Kern, Brennan, and Maubet-Bjornsen but these three were not able to get past their respective quarterfinal heats.
In the men’s competition Johannes Klæbo was able to come back from injury and dominate the field, not losing a single heat and winning the finals by over two seconds. The Italian Federico Pellegrino was able to secure a comfortable second place finish. France’s Renaud Jay was able to stay on his feet and secure the third place finish. The other three men in the heat were taken out and the race was to be decided by these three. The only US male to qualify for heats was Hamilton and he wasn’t able to escape a tough quarterfinal heat. Logan Hanneman was the next best finisher in 45th.
- Storlien – Meråker
- Feb 20 38km Freestyle Mass Start
- 3:45AM start for Women
- 6:20AM start for Men
- Feb 22 Classic Sprint
- 6:00AM start for finals
- Feb 23 Classic Pursuit
- 4:15AM start for women
- 6:20AM start for men
An update for the point-to-point race has been given: because of high winds in Storlien they have remapped the course. The race will now start and finish in Meråker. The decision was made this afternoon and the race will follow the trail out to the halfway point and then turn around and come back towards the stadium.
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: