Riiber takes four medals for the men
Norwegian Triple in first-ever Women’s Nordic Combined World Championship
JO CHRISTIAN WELDINGH
This year, for the first time ever, the women’s Nordic Combined event was a part of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, held Feb. 26-March 6 in Oberstdorf, Germany.
On Feb. 27, Gyda Westvold Hansen an 18-year-old from Dalsbygda, stole the show and won the event’s first ever gold medal with fellow Norwegians, sisters Mari Leinan Lund and Marte Leinan Lund in second and third place, respectively.
Hansen started three seconds behind Mari Lund in the 5-km race after the ski jump, but after 1.6 km of the cross-country race, Hansen was already leading by 11 seconds. On the second lap, however, both Lund sisters started gaining on her.
Hansen held on to her lead with a time of 13:10.4, while the older sister Mari won the fight for second place (13:24.2) when Marte fell toward the end of the race (13:39.2). On the HS106 normal hill, Mari jumped 107.0m, Hansen, 102.5m, and Marte 101.0m. It was the only women’s event.
“It is a clean sweep; it feels fantastic. It is a historic and big day, and to celebrate it like this is indescribable,” sporting director Ivar Stuan told VG.no after the race.
Women’s Nordic Combined is a new sport. The first ever World Cup race was held as recently as Dec. 18, 2020, and was won by American Tara Geraghty-Moats. The World Cup was put on hold after that because of Covid-19 but is expected to start again as soon as possible. The Norwegian team has already set their sights on the World Championship in 2023 in Planica, Slovenia, and the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan, Italy.
Hansen, who just happens to be the first cousin of the best cross-country skier in the world, Therese Johaug, is clear when asked by NRK if it is time for a women’s Olympic competition.
“If we keep in mind that this is a new sport, I think the level is fairly good,” she said. “We have participants from many different nations, so, in time, I’m
sure it will become even more exciting.”
The Norwegian Nordic Combined men’s team also had a great championship. Jarl Magnus Riiber won the gold medal in the individual normal hill/10 km (103m, 137.6 pts, 23:01.2), the silver medal on the individual large hill/10 km (135m, 144 pts. 23:48.2), while the Norwegian team won the gold medal in the team normal hill/4×5-km (Espen Bjørnestad, 98.0m, 124.7 pts; Jørgen Gråbak 98.5m, 120.2 pts; Jens Lurås Oftebro 104m, 128.1; Riiber 100.0m, 128.5 pts), and a total time of 43:57.7, 42.7 ahead of Germany, and the silver medal in the team sprint large hill/2×7.5-km (Espen Andersen 133.5m, 141.3 pts; Riiber 130.5m, 137.5 pts, total time 30:09.3).
Riiber leads the World Cup standings with 940 points. Oftebro is eighth, Gråbak 11th, Bjørnestad 13th.
Nordic combined is a winter sport in which athletes compete in a combination of cross-country skiing and ski jumping. The competition starts with a ski jumping competition in the morning, and then, later in the day, the athletes compete in a cross-country skiing pursuit race based on the result from the ski jumping competition.
This article originally appeared in the March 26, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.