Riiber and Thingnes Bø both win third consecutive World Cup
JO CHRISTIAN WELDINGH
Norway usually has one or more athletes competing for the top spot in almost every sport performed on ice and snow, but few are as dominant as Nordic Combined skier Jarl Magnus Riiber and biathlete Johannes Thingnes Bø. Riiber took home his third consecutive overall World Cup title after winning his ninth World Cup race (out of 12) of the season in Klingenthal, Germany, March 21. Thingnes Bø also won his third consecutive World Cup title after finishing third in the last World Cup race in Östersund, Sweden, also on March 21.
Riiber won the World Cup with a total of 1,140 points. German Vinzenz Geiger placed second with 810 points, while Akito Watabe from Japan came in third with 757 points. Jens Lurås Oftebro was eighth, Jørgen Gråbak 12th, Espen Bjørnestad 13th, Espen Andersen 16th.
“It feels great reaching my last goal of the season, the overall World Cup,” Riiber told VG after his victory.
Riiber is only 23 and already one of the best Nordic Combined athletes ever. He already has 35 World Cup victories, only 12 fewer than the winningest Nordic Combined skier ever, Hannu Manninen from Finland. Riiber’s third consecutive overall victory is also impressive. Only Manninen (four) and Eric Frenzel from Germany have more consecutive titles.
Thingnes Bø’s victory was not as comfortable as Riiber’s, as he had to beat fellow Norwegian Sturla Holm Lægreid in the 15-km mass start in Östersund, Sweden to win the title. Thingnes Bø finished third in the race (36:01.2, 3 misses). Lægreid, who made his big breakthrough this season and has been challenging Thingnes Bø all year, came in as No. 8. Vetle Sjåstad Christiansen was fourth, Tarjei Bø fifth, Johannes Dale ninth.
When VG asked Thingnes Bø about his younger rival, he was full of praise. “Sturla has been outstanding all season and he has put some pressure on me. He has brought a level of competition that I have not felt before. I was not prepared for someone like him. However, I have been thinking about someone younger eventually beating me. To win means a lot,” he said.
Thingnes Bø was also awarded the Holmenkollen medal this year, an award given by the Norwegian Skiing Association to athletes who have excelled in any sport performed in Holmenkollen arena in Oslo. Previous winners include Therese Johaug, Marit Bjørgen and Polish ski jumper Adam Malysz. Ski jumper Maren Lundby won the women’s award.
Norwegian biathlete Tiril Eckhoff won the women’s overall World Cup for the first time in her career with 1,152 pts. This season, Eckhoff, who has been among the top biathletes for many years, found the consistency she has been lacking in previous years and had 12 World Cup victories. It tied the Norwegian record held by Ole Einar Bjørndalen, but topped the women’s record of 11 held by Tora Berger. Only Swede Magdalena Forsberg has had a better season with 14 victories. Marte Olsbu Røiseland was second in World Cup standings.
This article originally appeared in the April 9, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.