Norwegian skiers dominate the podium

Norway starts off the ski season strong with diverse talent and an impeccable record

Photo: ingvildflugstad / Instagram  Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, center, was a big winner at the World Cup.

Photo: ingvildflugstad / Instagram
Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, center, was a big winner at the World Cup.

Molly Jones
Norwegian American Weekly

Winning nine out of ten races so far this season, Norway’s skiers look even more promising than usual. Six different Norwegians have taken home a gold thus far, with 13 making it onto the podium. And several have won a medal more than once already, with Norwegians claiming 24 of 30 medals.

There have been five races so far: the sprint and distance runs in Kuusamo, Finland; the mini tour in Lillehammer, Norway; and the most recent sprint and distance races in Davos, Switzerland.

Both the women and the men thrived at the World Cup races in Davos.

The Norwegian women took over all three spots on the podium in the sprint, with 24-year-old Ingvild Flugstad Østberg in first place. This was the first World Cup win for Flugstad Østberg, who also took home a gold in the team sprint and silver in the individual sprint at the Sochi Olympics earlier this year.

“I have worked very hard for this and have been very close to a World Cup victory many times. To cross this line first and alone was delightful,” said Flugstad Østberg to NRK.

Already in first place at the start of the day with victories in the sprint prologue and her heats in the quarterfinals and semifinals, Flugstad Østberg was determined to achieve her first World Cup win.

NRKs cross-country skiing expert, Morten Djupvik, was very impressed with Flugstad Østberg’s performance and expects to see more of her in the future, and in more races than the sprint.

“She can ski long distances in both classic and freestyle. She is probably one of the next that can step up to win the overall World Cup,” comments Djupvik.

Out of the six athletes to make it to the sprint finals, five were Norwegians. The only non-Norwegian was the Swede Stina Nilsson, who came in last after breaking her pole early in the race. Maiken Caspersen Falla and Celine Brun-Lie made it to the podium, coming in second and third, respectively. Marit Bjørgen in fourth and Heidi Wang in fifth place followed.

Three Norwegian women made it to the distance finals, with two topping the podium. Therese Johaug took the victory, and Marit Bjørgen got the silver. The Finnish Kerttu Niskanen earned third place.

And just as the women swept the competition, the Norwegian men demonstrated outstanding performances in Davos.

The gold in the sprint went to 24-year-old Finn-Hågen Krogh who, like Flugstad Østberg, won his first World Cup victory in Davos.

“I was extra nervous today, and with good reason. I felt pretty anxious, even after the semifinals. The plan was to speed ahead in the final and hope it keep it up,” said Krogh to NRK after his win.

“I finally did it, and it feels very good. My form has been good the last couple weeks and I was very determined to win today. I went for it and kept it up the whole way.”

The Norwegian men had four of six positions in the sprint finals, along with the Swedish Halfvarsson and Russian Petukhov. But the Norwegians topped the competition once again, bringing home all of the medals. Behind Krogh, Anders Gløersen came in second, and Eirik Brandsdal in third.

In the distance finals, Norway was represented by three of the six skiers. Martin Johnsrud Sundby claimed the gold, while Didrik Tønseth took the silver. The bronze went to the Swiss Dario Cologna, followed by the remaining Norwegian, Sjur Røthe, in fourth place.

“Norway has so many good cards. It is not just Johaug and Bjørgen but also Østberg and Falla who are ready to take over. Norway has many good skiers, and they must be good early in the season. The international competition only gets tougher throughout the season,” comments Djupvik, looking ahead to a promising season.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 26, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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