Alexander Bolshunov

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Holund completes Norway sweep in men’s cross-country events at world champs

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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.

 

Norway’s Therese Johaug wins gold in return to world champs

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Norway’s seven-time world champion Therese Johaug won her first world title today since 2015 in the women’s Skiathlon at the 2019 Nordic World Ski Championships in Seefeld, Austria. Johaug crossed the finish line with a time of 36 minutes 54.5 seconds.

Johaug returned to racing this season after being served an 18-month drug suspension for testing positive for the steroid clostebol in 2016.

Johaug said the infraction was unintentional, and due to her use of a lip cream to treat a cold sore which, unknown to her, included the banned substance. The mistake would be costly for the three-time Olympic medalist, who had won gold in Vancouver in 2010 as well as a silver and bronze medal four years later in Sochi.  

Banned from competition, Johaug’s suspension forced her to miss the entire 2017-18 World Cup season, the 2017 World Championships as well as the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games.

Johaug has been making up for lost time this season on the World Cup. Each time the 30-year-old Norwegian has appeared on the podium, she’s been at the top, winning nine races so far this season. And now she can add a world title to her list of accomplishments in 2019.

“I’ve been looking forward for this championship for over two years,” an emotional Johaug said after the race in Seefeld. “The last time I was in a championship was in Falun, four years ago. I’m training so much and working so hard for this, and all the team around me have helped me every time, so I’m really happy.”

Johaug crossed the finish line nearly a full minute ahead of silver medalist, and her countrywoman, Norway’s Ingvlid Flugstad Oestberg. Russia’s Natalia Nepryaeva finished off the podium, taking bronze.

Full results are here.

The men’s Skiathlon came down to a three-way battle with just 2km to go in the 30km race. Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby made a late push to jump ahead of Russia’s Alexander Bolshunov on an uphill climb. Another Norwegian, Sjur Roethe was also keeping pace with the lead group. But as the trio neared the end, Sunby lost his lead when Roethe’s skis ran faster on a downhill section leading into the final stretch.

With all three racers within a ski’s length of one another, Roethe crossed the finish line first, just a tenth of a second ahead of Bolshunov who was able to overtake a gassed Sundby in the final push to the finish.

Check out this weekend’s remaining schedule for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships and watch live on TV on Olympic Channel and online with OlympicChannel.com and NBC Sports Gold.

WORLD NORDIC SKIING CHAMPIONSHIPS — Seefeld, Austria

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 5:00 a.m. Cross-Country: Women’s 15km Skiathlon OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
6:30 a.m. Cross-Country: Men’s 30km Skiathlon OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
8:30 a.m. Cross-Country: Women’s 15km Skiathlon* Olympic Channel
8:30 a.m. Ski Jumping: Men’s LH Final OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
9:30 a.m. Cross-Country: Men’s 30km Skiathlon* Olympic Channel
10:30 a.m. Ski Jumping: Men’s LH Final* Olympic Channel
Sunday 4:30 a.m. Nordic Combined: Team LH OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. Cross-Country: M & W Team Sprint Final OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Nordic Combined: Team Sprint OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
8:45 a.m. Ski jumping: Men’s LH Team Final* OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
9:30 a.m. Nordic Combined: Team LH* Olympic Channel
10:30 a.m. Cross-Country: M&W Team Sprint Finals* Olympic Channel
2 p.m. Nordic Combined: Team Sprint* Olympic Channel
3 p.m. Ski Jumping: Men’s LH Team Final Olympic Channel
11:30 p.m. Cross-Country: Women’s Team Sprint Final* NBCSN

*Same-day delay

Norway’s Oestberg wins first Tour de Ski; U.S.’ Diggins finishes off podium

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Watching the cross-country athletes compete in the seventh and final stage of the 2018-19 Tour de Ski, dubbed the Final Climb, is a bit like watching the film “Titanic.” Everyone knows the misery which awaits each skier before they cross the finish line.

The grueling race which culminates in a 3.5km uphill climb, punishes skiers by putting their fitness to the ultimate test.

Entering the final race, Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg held a commanding lead over the rest of the field, but could she perform on Alpe Cermis, a hill which has beaten her up in the past?

“It’s maybe the toughest race of the year,” Oestberg said before the start of the race.  “It’s tough to prepare [for this race] because it’s about preparing for pain and how to deal with the pain.”

However, Oestberg was prepared for the pain, and she cemented her victory with a time of 35 minutes, 15 seconds in the Final Climb to win her first Tour de Ski of her career.

Russia’s Natalia Nepryaeva finished second overall for the fourth-consecutive season, while Finland’s Krista Parmakoski rounded out the podium in third. Parmakoski was able to make the final podium despite never having finished better than fourth in any of the first six stages of the Tour de Ski. Parmakoski finished third in the Final Climb. Full results are here.

Last season, Jessie Diggins became the first U.S. skier to make a final Tour de Ski podium when she finished third overall. Her attempt to make a return appearance on this year’s podium fell short, despite three third place finishes over the course of the seven-race event.

Diggins finished sixth in the Final Climb and sixth overall in the final Tour de Ski standings.

On the men’s side, three-time 2018 Olympic champion, 22-year-old Norwegian Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo, became the youngest athlete to win the Tour de Ski. Klaebo finished the men’s Final Climb in first with a time of 32 minutes, 51.3 seconds. Klaebo’s time was good enough to hold off two Russians for the top prize. Alexander Bolshunov and Sergey Ustiugov finished second and third in the final Tour de Ski standings.

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