Norway’s Hans Christer Holund made his play for the world championship gold medal before the lead group of roughly 40 skiers had passed the halfway mark in the sen’s 50km mass start.
Holund built a lead of more than a minute over the course of 15km in the final half of the grueling distance race.
With two laps remaining, and the chase pack entering to change skis, a Russian quartet, including 2018 PyeongChang Olympic silver medalist in the 50km mass start, Alexander Bolshunov opted to stay on course to attempt to chase down Holund. Each of Holund’s fellow Norwegians stopped to change skis before their final push to the finish.
Prior to the day of the race, Bolshunov wasn’t listed on the startlist to compete in the final event of cross-country skiing at these world championships, but here was the World Cup points leader in distance, and second overall in points, contending for the podium.
Over the final 12km, Bolshunov continually chipped away at Holund’s lead at each time check. Bolshunov had shrunk Holund’s lead to just 23 seconds as he crossed the final time check before the finish. But Holund’s lead was too much for the Russian to overcome. Holund crossed the finish line to win with a time of 1 hour 49 minutes and 59.3 seconds.
Holund’s win, his first at a major championship, solidified the Norwegian sweep in the men’s cross-country skiing events at the 2019 Nordic World Ski Championships. It’s the first time a single country has accomplished such a feat in the men’s races at a world championship.
In a drag race for the bronze, Norway’s Sjur Roethe outstretched his countrymen Martin Johnsrud Sundby to land on the podium for the third time at these world championships, having won gold in the Skiathlon and gold in the relay with his Norwegian teammates.