Norwegians dominate Tour de Ski
Marit Bjørgen earns first Tour de Ski victory while Martin Johnsrud Sundby defends title
Norwegian American Weekly
Norway crushed the international competition in the 2015 Tour de Ski, with Martin Johnsrud Sundby taking his second consecutive win and Marit Bjørgen earning her long-awaited victory.
The ninth edition of this World Cup tournament occurred from January 3 to 11, with seven stages of varying distances. The world’s top cross-country skiers started off the year competing in Oberstdorf, Germany; Val Müstair, Switzerland; Toblach, Italy; and finally, Val di Fiemme, Italy.
The Norwegian women topped the competition throughout the entire tournament, earning the top three spots in every stage. Marit Bjørgen eventually came out on top with an emotional victory after nine years of participation in Tour de Ski. She finished with a total time of 2:34:44.61.
“It feels incredibly great. It is wonderful to finally be the first up the hill. Tour de Ski has been difficult for me,” admits Bjørgen. “I am 34 years and almost thought it was too late for me to win this. Luckily it was not.”
Going in to the final stage, Norwegian Heidi Weng resided in second place, trailing Bjørgen by two minutes. Norwegian Therese Johaug—the champion of the 2014 Tour de Ski—followed in the bronze position, but an outstanding performance on the final hill secured her the silver above Weng. Johaug finished 1:39.2 after Bjørgen and Weng came in at +1:59.5.
“I am happy with second place,” Johaug said to the International Ski Federation (FIS). “I knew that victory was gone before Toblach but I am satisfied with the competitions I had in Val di Fiemme. Everybody hates the Final Climb but I love it.”
Weng doesn’t share Johaug’s love for the Alpe Cermis hill. “The final climb is so hard! I tried to focus on my race. I have had my best competitions ever in this time of the year. It is absolutely unbelievable that I was on the podium at every stage. I am so happy for Marit,” tells Weng to FIS.
Not only was the podium controlled by Norwegians, but Norway’s Ragnhild Haga secured fourth place after beating American Elizabeth Stephen up the hill.
The Norwegian men also made their country proud, placing in first and second overall. Martin Johnsrud Sundby managed to repeat last year’s success, achieving the gold for the second consecutive year with a total time of 3:26:42.9.
“It is much, much bigger for me to win this year than last year. Last year the competition was not quite as strong. This year the pressure was on me. It is wonderful to fulfill,” says Sundby. “It was nerve-wracking, but I’m so glad that I managed to come first in this year too. I actually felt terrible for the first kilometers, but I managed to get to the hill and from there I knew on a good day I could be better than Petter.”
Sundby began the last day 3.1 seconds behind teammate Petter Northug, but managed to power past Northug during the Alpe Cermis hill climb and achieve the victory.
Northug secured the silver with an overall time 34.5 seconds behind Sundby, and the Russian Evgeniy Belov took home the bronze.
“It was a tough affair. I tried to go fast into the hill along with Martin. On the hill, my plan was to find my own rhythm,” comments Northug. “I am very pleased to be number two.”
From the look of Tour de Ski, Norway’s cross-country skiers are on the verge of an extraordinarily successful year. Be sure to keep an eye on these star athletes in the World Cup events to come.
This article originally appeared in the Jan. 23, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.