Norwegian Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo appeared to make history in the national sport of cross-country skiing. Minutes later, he walked off without a medal from the capstone event of the world championships.
Klaebo, the 24-year-old phenom, crossed the finish line first in the 50km classic finale of worlds in Oberstdorf, Germany, holding off countryman Emil Iversen and Russian Aleksander Bolshunov in a sprint after 2 hours, 10 minutes on course.
He would have become the second man to win both the sprint and the marathon at the same worlds, joining retired countryman Petter Northug, according to Gracenote.
But Klaebo was disqualified minutes later for obstruction.
Klaebo made an illegal move impeding Bolshunov while passing the Russian near the start of the final straight. Their contact caused Bolshunov, who was leading at the time, to break a ski pole. Iversen then passed Bolshunov for the silver medal.
Iversen was upgraded to gold, and Bolshunov got the silver. Bolshunov likely would have finished ahead of Iversen if not for one of his poles breaking.
“I’m very sorry on Johannes’ behalf, and I do not support the jury’s decision,” Iversen said, according to German press agency DPA. “He is the moral winner.”
The situation was reminiscent of a World Cup race in January, when Bolshunov made contact while trying to pass a Finn. He whipped his opponent with a ski pole and tackled him in the finish area and was disqualified. Video of that is here.
Klaebo was bidding for a fourth gold medal in Oberstdorf after winning the individual and team sprints and being part of Norway’s winning relay. Klaebo also won all three of those events at the PyeongChang Olympics and the 2019 World Championships.
Klaebo was making his global championship 50km debut.
Iversen, 29, earned his first individual medal at an Olympics or worlds.
Bolshunov, the 24-year-old World Cup overall standings leader, matched his 50km silver medals from the 2018 Olympics and 2019 Worlds.
The U.S. had its best result in an Olympic or world 50km since 2003, with Scott Patterson placing 10th.
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