World Cup Report: Lahti Recap, Norway Preview

by Erika Peterson
March 1, 2022

The Olympics may be over, but Period 4 of the World Cup is just beginning. After only a week off since competitions in Beijing, athletes traveled to Lahti, Finland to continue competing for individual results as well as positions in the overall standings.

Rosie Brennan skied to eighth in Sunday's FIS Cross Country World Cup 10k classic in Lahti, Finland. (Credit: Thibaut/NordicFocus)


  • February 26 Freestyle Sprint
  • February 27 Classic 10/15km

Freestyle Sprints

In warm weather under clear skies, skiers took to the trails in Lahti for the first World Cup race after the Olympics. The 1.6 kilometer sprint course featured gradual, rolling uphills in the first half, followed by a sizable climb and descent before the finishing stretch. In the women’s qualifier, Olympic sprint champion Jonna Sundling of Sweden showed that she’s still on good form, posting the fastest qualifying time. The Americans also skied well in the qualifier: Jessie Diggins had the second fastest time, with Julia Kern fourth, Rosie Brennan fifth, and Hailey Swirbul 26th. In the first heat, Sundling claimed an easy victory, followed by Natalia Nepryaeva of Russia. Sundling’s teammates also performed well in the quarterfinal rounds—Emma Ribom and Maja Dahlqvist won their respective heats, and two other teammates also advanced to the semifinals. Kern and Diggins continued their strong performances in the heats to take the top two spots in the final quarterfinal, while Brennan missed the semifinals by a boot throw in her heat, placing 15th overall.

The first semifinal was dominated by the Swedes: Sundling, Ribom, and Dahlqvist controlled the race from the front and took the top three spots in that order. Nepryaeva hung on to take fourth with a time fast enough to earn her a lucky loser position alongside Dahlqvist. In the second semifinal, Kern started strong at the front of the field, but as the other skiers picked up the pace in the latter half of the race she drifted further back. Diggins and Anamarija Lampic of Slovenia opted to stay mid pack for most of the race, but by the final stretch they had worked their way to the front with Johanna Hagström of Sweden. In a three-way photo finish, Diggins and Lampic claimed first and second to advance to the final.

In the women’s final, there was no question as to who was the strongest. Sundling skied away from the field early on, maintaining separation until the line to take the victory. Behind her, it was a close fight between Diggins, Ribom, and Dahlqvist, but in the end it was a Swedish podium sweep with Ribom second and Dahlqvist third. Diggins finished fourth ahead of Lampic, fifth, and Nepryaeva, sixth.

The top qualifier in the men’s race was Frenchmen Lucas Chanavat, a sign of redemption for him after the Olympics where he failed to make the sprint final. Just behind him was unbeatable sprinter Johannes Klaebo, fresh off of a victory in the freestyle sprints at the Olympics. Fellow Norwegian Haavard Solaas Taugboel posted the third fastest qualifying time. Kevin Bolger was the top American of the day, just missing the heats in 33rd place. He was followed closely by Logan Diekmann in 34th and Logan Hanneman in 39th, with Zak Ketterson and Bill Harmeyer placing 49th and 50th, respectively.

Chanavat and Klaebo both picked the first quarterfinal, qualifying easily in the slowest heat of the day. The Finns had two athletes in the heats at their home venue, but neither was able to qualify. Some of the less dominant countries performed well, however: Qiang Wang of China advanced to the semifinals from the fastest quarterfinal, and Andrew Young of Great Britain won his heat to advance.

In the first semifinal, Chanavat and Klaebo went head to head again, but the fastest athlete was the Italian, Federico Pellegrino. After stepping over a cone on the final corner, however, Pellegrino found himself relegated to last in the round for failing to follow the marked course, and Klaebo and Chanavat took the qualifying spots. Taugboel finished just behind them, fast enough to claim a lucky loser spot in the final. The second semifinal was led by Sindre Bjornstad Skar of Norway alongside Wang. By the final stretch, however, Gleb Retivykh of Russia was at the front with Skar in the qualifying positions, while Wang placed third to take a lucky loser spot after lunging ahead of fourth place.

The finals began with the same duo we saw all day: Klaebo and Chanavat. After Wang fell on the corner just before a descent, it was Klaebo, Chanavat, Skar, Retivykh, and Taugboel at the front. The remaining five stayed together until the line, but it was Klaebo once again who took the victory. The finish was surprisingly close for Klaebo, however; Chanavat put up a strong fight, taking second by a mere boot throw. Taugboel rounded out the podium in third, with Skar behind in fourth.

Classic Distance

Following a disappointing day for the hosting nation, Sunday was a time for the Finnish team to shine. They delivered notable performances in both the men’s and women’s fields, though it was the Norwegian distance star Therese Johaug who dominated the women’s race. Leading at every checkpoint, Johaug secured yet another World Cup victory. The race for the win was close, however; Nepryaeva had the early lead, but she watched Johaug surpass her times by a few seconds at each time check. Although Nepryaeva had the fastest time in the final segment of the race, Johaug held on to a 1.2 second gap over her to secure the win. Behind them, Parmakoski skied a strong race to place third, starting slower but finishing decidedly on the podium well ahead of fourth place. Kerttu Niskanen, the Olympic silver medalist in this event, finished in the next position, just edging out Sundling, who rounded out the top five. The first American finisher was Brennan with a strong eighth place, followed by Diggins in 20th, Kern in 28th, Swirbul in 29th, and Katharine Ogden in 43rd.

On the men’s side, all eyes were on Iivo Niskanen of Finland, the recent Olympic gold medalist in this event. The race was very competitive for the first 10 kilometers, with Alexander Bolshunov and Alexey Chervotkin of Russia, William Poromaa of Sweden, Martin Loewstroem Nyenget and Klaebo of Norway, and Niskanen all in the running. As Niskanen came through his first lap, Klaebo was leaving the starting gate, and the two skied together for the next two laps. In the last third of the race, however, Niskanen laid down the hammer, taking the win by nearly 18 seconds in his home country. Klaebo finished strong as well, placing second and besting Poromaa’s time by a mere 0.4 seconds. The race marked the first of what are sure to be many World Cup podiums for Poromaa, who is just 21 years old. Scott Patterson was the first American finisher in 33rd place.

Norway Preview

  • March 3 Classic Sprint—Drammen, NOR (5:30 am CST)
  • March 5 Women’s Classic 30k‚—Oslo, NOR (3:00 am CST)
  • March 6 Men’s Classic 50k, Oslo—NOR (5:00 am CST)

Hopefully athletes are starting to recover from their Olympic efforts, because the World Cup circuit continues with three more races this week. On Thursday, athletes will race a classic sprint on the streets of Drammen, Norway before heading to Oslo for some mass start distance events at the famed Holmenkollen venue. Notably absent from the field will be all athletes from Russia and Belarus. Following an IOC recommendation, the FIS council made the decision to ban all Russian and Belarusian athletes from competition for the rest of the season. The World Cup event in Tyumen, Russia has also been canceled. The decision was made with hopes to protect the safety of competing athletes as well as the integrity and political neutrality of the competition. Because of this, the World Cup standings will look very different in the upcoming races: Diggins takes over the women’s overall lead with Nepryaeva gone, while six of the top ten in the men’s distance standings will be missing as well (including Bolshunov, the men’s distance leader). Klaebo will also be absent from the start line for the rest of the season after testing positive for COVID on Tuesday. With Klaebo and Bolshunov, the top two men in the overall standings, out, Iivo Niskanen is in the top position, followed closely by Erik Valnes with Paal Golberg not far off. Valnes has a chance to do well in the upcoming sprints, but with Niskanen as the heavy favorite to win in Oslo the competition will be stiff.


Absences within the Norwegian camp have grown to include nearly the entire men's sprinting team as many test positive for COVID including: Skar, Goldberg, Taugboel, Valnes, and Even Nortug. In addition, Frida Karlsson announced she will not be racing this weekend citing fitness concerns.

About the author...

Erika Peterson is a senior at South High School in Minneapolis. She skis for Loppet Nordic Racing as well as her high school team. When she’s not out on the trails, you can find her listening to Lorde and creating oatmeal recipes.