Norway dominates ski championship
With a grand total of 20 medals and 22 medal winners, the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships belonged to Norway
Norwegian American Weekly
It would be an understatement to say that Norway succeeded at the 2015 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Falun, Sweden; rather, they dominated the competition. This biennial competition combines 21 cross-country skiing, ski jumping, and Nordic combined events—a recipe for Norwegian success, in other words.
Of course, Norway isn’t the only country to excel at these winter sports; 58 nations and over 700 nations were represented in Falun. But Norway truly outshined their competitors this year. Out of the 21 events from Feb. 18 to March 1, Norway secured 11 gold medals—therefore earning more golds than all of the other countries combined.
Throughout the competition, 22 Norwegian athletes made it onto the podium, several of them multiples times.
“What I am most pleased with is that we have 22 different medal winners from 10 of 16 ski districts in the country,” says President of Norges Skiforbund Erik Røste.
With four golds, Petter Northug seems to have earned the representation of Falun MVP in the Norwegian sports community. This is considered to be the 29-year-old’s best World Cup competition yet, which is understandable considering his four victories in the 50 kilometer classical mass start race, the 4 x 10 kilometer relay, the sprint, and the team sprint.
It was March 1, the final day of the event, when Northug claimed the 50 km gold. He had followed behind the leaders for most of the race, but powered through at the end for first place.
“It was very hard going today. Snowy weather made it tough and hard to ski well. But despite snowfall and harsh conditions it was great skiing today with all the crowds. It feels great to finish with a gold,” reports Northug.
“I have been gone for almost two years, and now I’m back and win the 50 km. To stand here means a lot to me,” he continues to NRK.
Northug was earlier joined by his teammates Niklas Dyrhaug, Didrik Tønseth, and Anders Gløersen for the relay to succeed in maintaining Norway’s streak—now eight straight world championships victories in the men’s relay.
“This feels very great and very special. Didrik and Petter are childhood friends of mine, and I’ve also known Anders for many years. It is special to ski the relay for Norway, especially when one has so many buddies on the team,” commented Dyrhaug to NRK.
We can’t let the men take all the glory, though! Therese Johaug came just one gold short of Northug with her impressive three golds in the 15 kilometer skiathlon, the 30 kilometer classical mass start race, and the 4 x 5 kilometer relay.
In the 30 km event, Johaug demonstrated her speed from the start line and led the race after only six kilometers.
“It was my dream to take an individual gold medal and now here I am with two. Conditions were perfect today,” says Johaug. “Faced with these huge crowds—it’s a sporting dream come true.”
“Therese is a very deserving winner and it was impressive to see how she left the field on the killer hill,” praises Bjørgen, who struggled during the first half of the 30 km race but still managed to take the silver. “We’ve shown that we’re an incredibly strong team again today.” Bjørgen had previously secured her own individual gold in the sprint.
Heidi Weng and Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen joined Johaug and Bjørgen for the relay, determined to win and take revenge for their disappointing performance at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The team managed to give Bjørgen a big lead for the final leg, and she made it through the finish line ahead of Sweden for the gold.
“We’ve wanted revenge ever since Sochi, and especially after Tuesday’s race,” admitted Bjørgen about the disappointing 10 km race on Feb. 24. “To come back again and give the people back home and the (fans) here a gold again, it’s incredible.”
While most expect victories from Norway’s cross-country teams, the men’s ski jumping team hadn’t earned a gold since Falun in 1993. Until now, that is.
Anders Bardal, Anders Jacobsen, Anders Fannemel, and Rune Velta each had two great jumps to secure first place in the men’s team large hill for the first time in 22 years.
“My big dream was to win team gold in Falun. I’m incredibly happy that we managed it. It was unbearably exciting to wait for Rune’s last jump,” says Anders Bardal.
“We knew we had a chance to take the gold. It feels great,” commented Rune Velta, who also won the individual normal hill event.
This article originally appeared in the March 13, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.