World Cup Report: Ski Tour Stages 4-6
The final weekend of the Ski Tour had a lot of excitement and change in the men’s overall standings. Paal Golberg of Norway made the come from behind attack to upset Alexander Bolshunov, of Russia, and win the overall Ski Tour title. On the women’s side it was all Therese Johaug, Norway, and she dominated the field in winning by almost four minutes.
- Storlien – Meråker
- Feb 20 38km Freestyle Mass Start
- Feb 22 Classic Sprint
- Feb 23 Classic Pursuit
Freestyle Mass Start
For the fourth consecutive race in the women’s field Norway swept the podium. It didn’t take long for Johaug to break apart the group and dance off the front of the field alone. Ingvild Oestberg and Heidi Weng of Norway were also able to break off the front of the group. These two ended up skiing a larger portion of the race together. With about 15km to go Oestberg skied away from Weng and tried to chase down Johaug. Oestberg would come really close to closing the gap but Johaug escaped with a four second victory. Jessie Diggings lead the American team to a 7th place finish. She skied in a group of six athletes for most of the race before attacking to the front of the group and making a small gap. Diggins raced into the top seven and comfortably in striking position for the pursuit. Rosie Brennan and Sadie Maubet-Bjornsen were two of the six skiers that skied the race together near the front group. Unfortunately they were not able to hold onto the front-runners of the group. Brennan edged out Maubet-Bjornsen for 10th and 11th place. In the men’s race Bolshunov asserted his dominance by running away with a commanding victory. Nobody was going to chase him down and spoil this win for him. The rest of the race was for 2nd and 3rd in which there were 10+ athletes all in contention. Norwegians Johannes Klæbo and Emil Iverson sprinted away from the field in the final kilometers to clinch the remaining podium spots. Klæbo beat out Iverson by a hair in a photo finish to the line. David Norris was the top American male finisher racing to a top 30. Norris was fighting back and forth with Clement Parisse of France and ultimately lost a photo finish with him landing in 26th place. Ben Lustgarten took the second male spot for the US in 51st and Kevin Bolger rounded out the top three in 69th.
The flying Norwegian, Klæbo, won his second sprint of the Ski Tour again in commanding fashion. It was a strong performance from team Norway who put five guys in the top five. Goldberg was the closest competitor to Klæbo who out lunged teammate Erik Valnes by a boot length to secure a second place finish. Both men were still more than a full ski length behind Klæbo. Unfortunately for the US men it was a rough day as no one qualified to the quarterfinal heats and Logan Hanneman was the top finisher in 34th. In the women’s race it was the first non-sweep of the podium by Norway of the Ski Tour; however, it was another Norwegian win. This time it was Maiken Caspersen-Falla securing the sprint win. Falla looked really strong fending off attacks from Jonna Sundling of Sweden and Nadine Faendrich of Switzerland. Sundling had a really strong sprint and secured a second place finish. Faendrich took her first solo podium of the winter in third holding off a group of surging sprinters. Another off day for the US women who qualified five women into the finals but all failed to pass onto the semis. Julia Kern, Sophie Caldwell, Diggins, Maubet-Bjornsen, and Brennan were the five female qualifiers.
It was the Johaug show in the final day of the Ski Tour. She started with a little over two minute lead going into the day and the first one across the line would be crowned the Ski Tour champ. Johaug stretched out her overall lead to almost four minutes and took a commanding win. The real fight was for second place between Weng and Oestberg. These two came into the final sprint together but it was Weng who walked away with the silver and held off Oestberg at the end. Diggins was the top finisher for the US women, skiing most of the race in no woman’s land landing herself 6th overall. Maubet-Bjornsen was able to move up two spots to clinch a 10th place finish. Brennan however fell out of the top ten and finished the tour in 12th. It was the men’s race that was filled with drama. Bolshunov was the first out of the gates with a commanding lead of :34 in arguably his best discipline: distance classic. Unfortunately the Russian wax techs drastically missed the wax and Bolshunov lost over two minutes to the winner of the ski tour, Golberg. Bolshunov was in a prime position to take the first ever Ski Tour title but once the skis go south in a classic race it's hard to keep up. Simen Hegstad-Krueger moved up five positions to take 2nd overall and Hans Christer-Holund also moved up five spots to round off a men’s and women’s sweep of the Ski Tour for Norway. Norris and Lustgarten were the two lone finishers for the USA. Norris was the top finisher in 34th place and Lustgarten finished in 54th.
Lahti Ski Games
- Feb 29 Classic Interval Start
- 5:00am CST Start for Women
- 6:30am CST Start for Men
- Feb 30 4x 5km and 4x 7.5km Relay
- 4:10am CST Start for Women
- 5:30am CST Start for Men
Lahti weekend is usually cold, windy, and snowy this time of year. Unfortunately, in one of central Finland’s worst winters Lahti currently has no snow and is scrambling to produce enough snow for the weekend. The first couple of on-snow training days have been cancelled but the races will be held. It will be purely man-made snow and very dirty from all the hauling of stored snow. It will be interesting to watch how the course will hold up in warm temps and many teams skiing on the course.
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: