Duel in Davos: Østberg takes longest distance World Cup win
Ingvild Flugstad Østberg didn’t plan to start the 15 k skate World Cup on December 10 like a bat out of hell. But by 2.2 kilometers into the course, she already had a 7.9-second lead over Heidi Weng, her Norwegian teammate and the overall leader of the World Cup.
That gap widened and closed and widened and closed, and at the finish Østberg had just that: a 7.9-second win over Weng, and her first World Cup victory ever in a distance longer than ten kilometers.
Østberg has an Olympic silver medal in the sprint and a gold medal in the team sprint, but last season she emerged as a real overall threat on the World Cup, winning 5 and 10 k races and ranking in the top three in the Tour de Ski, Ski Tour Canada, and overall World Cup standings. Yet the win in a 15 k still represented another step in her evolution as a complete skier.
“For sure it feels really good,” Østberg said in a post-race press conference. “It’s a long time since I won a sprint now. So maybe I have to focus more on sprints! It has been a lot of training for several years, and now my first win in a distance over 10 k. So I’m surprised and very happy.”
Weng, who started two bibs ahead of Østberg, found the race challenging. It is the first time the World Cup has been to altitude this season; Davos, Switzerland, sits at over 5,000 feet above sea level. Despite the pain and fatigue, Weng tried to maintain her pace and technique.
“I thought it was very hard from the beginning,” she said in the press conference. “I opened slowly. I thought that I can go better, and that everyone would be tired on this track.”
It was true: with the altitude and the long flat and climb—there’s virtually no rest on the course for the first three kilometers of the five kilometer lap—lots of women were suffering.
“For sure you have to pace yourself really good here,” Østberg said. “Otherwise it will be not a good feeling if you start too fast.”
At some points on the course, Østberg’s split was only one or two seconds faster than the time Weng had just laid down; Krista Parmakoski of Finland was also within 10 to 20 seconds. But Østberg kept pushing, despite her accidentally fast start.
“I heard that I had some seconds on Heidi and Krista, but I know that both of them ski really fast at the end,” Østberg said. “So I tried to keep up the speed, because I knew I couldn’t slow down.”
In the end she was able to open it up, earning the second Davos win of her career.
“I had my first sprint World Cup win here, and this is my first win in 15 k, so maybe Davos is a nice place for me,” she said.
Parmakoski also held her pace, moving from fourth on the first lap up to third by the halfway point. When all was settled, her finishing time was 16.7 seconds off the mark set by Østberg.
While the Norwegians went one-two and put four athletes in the top 12 (Ragnhild Haga seventh and Kari Øyre Slind 11th), the Finns also had a good day, with Riitta-Liisa Roponen eighth, Kerttu Niskanen 12th, and Laura Mononen 14th.
Rising to take fourth place was the U.S. Ski Team’s Jessie Diggins, who hovered in sixth place at the halfway point but skied aggressively over the last five kilometers to decisively seal a top finish; she was 54.3 seconds behind Østberg’s time, and 6.2 seconds ahead of fifth-place Yulia Tchekaleva of Russia.
This article was originally published on Faster Skier at fasterskier.com/fsarticle/ostberg-tops-weng-davos-duel-cementing-around-threat.
This article also appeared in the Dec. 30, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.