Winter Sports Summary
Norwegians lead the way
JO CHRISTIAN WELDINGH
Like almost everything else, 2020’s winter sports season became affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The International Skiing Federation (FIS) was determined to go through with the finishing World Cup week in North America, but when the seriousness of the situation became apparent, they decided to cancel the events and end the season. The International Biathlon Union (IBU) decided to cancel their World Cup final in Holmenkollen and ended their season with a sprint and a pursuit race in Kontiolahti, Finland, without spectators.
The ice hockey and handball federations also decided to cut their seasons short, and the soccer seasons got postponed, decisions that will most likely lead to serious financial repercussions since a majority of the hockey, soccer and handball clubs were already walking a financial tightrope before the viral health outbreak.
Still, with the direness of the current situation in mind, we have wrapped up an eventful World Cup winter season.
As expected, Therese Johaug took home the overall women’s cross-country skiing World Cup trophy. Johaug won every distance race except one this season and even won her first sprint competition. Four Norwegian women were in the top five of the standings.
Johannes Høsflot Klæbo didn’t perform quite as well as expected this year in the distance races but won his fourth consecutive overall sprint World Cup trophy. Russian Alexander Bolshunov won the men’s overall World Cup. Six Norwegian men were in the top 10.
Johannes Thingnes Bø was leading the men’s biathlon World Cup until he took a voluntary break all through January when his wife gave birth to their first child. French biathlon legend Martin Fourcade, who announced his retirement after this season, took advantage of his rival’s break and took over the lead in the overall World Cup standings. However, Bø made an incredible comeback. After winning a medal in six out of seven events in February’s World Championship and placing on the podium in almost every World Cup race since, Bø was able to win the overall World Cup, beating Fourcade by two points.
Relatively speaking, 22-year-old Jarl Magnus Riiber is the most talented winter sports athlete in Norway at the moment. Since his sport, Nordic Combined, is so small, he doesn’t get the attention and recognition he might deserve. Riiber won 14 out of 17 races this winter and could celebrate his overall World Cup victory in the middle of February. He is expected to dominate the sport for the next decade. Jørgen Gråbak was second.
When the Ski jumping World Cup ended early, Maren Lundby became the first ever female ski jumper to win the World Cup three years in in a row. In the men’s competition, only Adam Malysz from Poland has managed the same feat.
Alpine skier Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his first ever overall World Cup trophy, when the season ended abruptly March 12. The fight for the trophy was down to Kilde, fellow Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen and Alexis Pinturault from France. Kilde’s victory is the first Norwegian overall victory since Aksel Lund Svindal won in 2008-2009.
Ice hockey team Stavanger Oilers showed impressive form all season and was the best team in the regular season by far, winning the league with 113 points (34 regulation wins–4, overtime wins–3, overtime losses–4 regulation losses), 23 points ahead of runner-up Storhamar. The season ended before the playoffs started.
Elverum men (17-3-1-37) and Kristiansand women (20-0-1-40) won another regular season handball title.
This article originally appeared in the April 3, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.