Winter Sports Preview
Norwegian winter sports organizations hope to build on hugely successful 2018-19 season
Jo Christian Weldingh
The winter of 2018-2019 was one of Norway’s most successful winter sports seasons ever. Norwegian athletes won 20 gold medals in their respective world championships and not one single World Cup weekend went by without at least one Norwegian standing at the top of a podium.
Now, with the winter sports season about to begin, the bar is set sky high, and Norwegians everywhere expect victories every weekend, in every sport, and every race. This is our list of the Norwegian winter athletes that are expected to dominate the five most popular winter sports in Norway this season.
Johannes Høsflot Klæbo, the 23-year-old boy wonder from Trøndelag, is only in his fourth season as a senior. He won every single sprint he participated in last season. Coming into this season, he is expected to have improved greatly on the longer races as well. The young Russian Alexander Bolshunov will probably be Klæbo’s biggest rival.
Therese Johaug made an amazing comeback from her two-year suspension last year. She won all but one race she participated in (losing in Canada), including three gold medals in the world championship. She is said to be in even better shape this year, though she might get some competition from some of the up-and-coming Swedish skiers, especially Frida Karlsson.
Henrik Kristoffersen, Norway’s alpine wunderkind, has been the world’s second-best slalom and giant slalom skier for several years now, often topped only by Austrian skiing magician Marcel Hirscher. Hirscher unexpectedly retired after last season, which makes Kristoffersen the favorite for the overall World Cup title. Kristoffersen is known for his skill in slalom and giant slalom but is considering competing in super-G as well.
Kjetil Jansrud, though less famous and celebrated as his teammate Aksel Lund Svindal, who retired after last winter, is just as talented and successful. Jansrud won the downhill gold medal in last season’s world championship and has five Olympic medals combined. He is on the podium in almost every super-G or downhill race.
Ragnhild Mowinckel became the winningest Norwegian female alpine skier in the Olympics in PyeongChang 2018 by winning two silver medals. Last season, she won a world championship bronze medal in alpine combined. She is currently injured but ought to be fit enough to race later this winter.
The 25-year-old Johannes Thingnes Bø won three Olympic medals in PyeongChang 2018 and three gold medals in last season’s world championship. He had a record 16 World Cup victories last winter and is expected to dominate biathlon in the years to come. His exceptional speed around the tracks is perhaps his greatest strength as a biathlete.
Sprinter Håvard Holmefjord Lorentzen got his big breakthrough two years ago with both an Olympic title and a World Championship. Last season was a bit of a disappointment, despite two world championship silver medals, but he is said to be in great shape this year.
Maren Lundby has been the world’s No. 1 female ski jumper for several years. She won the gold medal in both the 2018 Olympics and in the 2019 World Championship. She is expected to continue her dominance this season.
This article originally appeared in the November 15, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American.