Johaug concludes weekend in Ruka with a win

Winter sports update

winter sports

Photo: Torstein Bøe / NTB
Therese Johaug (2), bundled up against the below-zero temperature, leads Frida Karlsson (Sweden)during the 10km pursuit in the World Cup season opener in Ruka, Finland, on Nov. 28. The day before, Johaug lost to Karlsson by 7.5 in the 10km classic. In the pursuit, Johaug won by 37.9 over Karlsson. Teammate Heidi Weng was third.

JO CHRISTIAN WELDINGH
Oslo

Norwegian cross-country skier Therese Johaug won her 78th World Cup victory on the last day of the World Cup opener in Ruka, Finland, when she won the 15k pursuit race Nov. 28. Frida Karlsson from Sweden came in second, while fellow Norwegian Heidi Weng placed third.

The 33-year-old Johaug was ready to take revenge after having placed second behind Karlsson in the 15k individual start the day before. Karlsson, having won the individual start, started 13 seconds ahead of Johaug.

Characteristically, Johaug started the race at full speed, and caught up with the 22-year-old Karlsson halfway through the race. She did not rest, but immediately tried to break away. After 6.1 km, Karlsson started to look tired, and after 7.5 km, Johaug had gotten herself a five-second gap. When they crossed the finish line, that gap had widened to 7.5 seconds. Johaug’s time was 25:56.0, Karlsson 26:03.8.

“I wanted revenge after yesterday’s race, so it felt good to get the win today,” Johaug told NRK after the race.

Johaug finished 13.7 behind Karlsson (24:29.4) in the 10km classic on Nov. 27 with a time of 24:43.1. 

Weng finished 10th, so started as No. 10 in the pursuit race. She had a great race day and finished third. The 30-year-old was faster than anyone else and was named the “winner of the day.” 

She crossed the finish line 37.9 seconds after Johaug in 26:33.9, and her race time was 4.1 seconds faster.

Weng ended up in the field behind Karlsson and Johaug. She beat Krista Pärmäkoski (Finland), Rosie Brennan (USA), Ebba Andersson (Sweden), and Katharina Hennig (Germany) in a sprint finish.

“It went automatically for three rounds,” Weng told NRK. “Suddenly I could see No. 3 (Hennig) and 4 (Andersson) ahead of me, and I understood that I had a chance to get on the podium. My skis were extremely good, but I’m happy that I didn’t have to go any farther because I got tired toward the end.” 

The Finnish weather got much of the attention in Ruka. On the morning of the race day, the temperature was -10°F and the race got postponed twice. While the jury discussed whether to go ahead with the race or not, the Norwegian men’s team decided not to participate in their race in fear of getting their season disrupted by respiratory problems. Then, a big part of the women’s team decided not to start. When the women’s race started, Johaug and Weng were the only skiers representing Norway.

Because of the absence of the Norwegian men’s team and Iivo Niskanen from Finland, Russia won the quadruple in the men’s 15km pursuit race. Alexander Bolshunov won, followed by Sergey Ustiugov, Artem Maltsev and Ivan Yakimushkin. 

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 17, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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Jo Christian Weldingh

Jo Christian Weldingh grew up in Lillehammer, Norway, and lives in Oslo. He has a bachelor’s degree in archaeology from the University of Oslo and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from BI Norwegian Business School.

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