Competitors clap for Klæbo

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Norway’s new ski hero Johannes Høsflot Klæbo remained undefeated after he won his sixth World Cup race in a row in Davos last weekend. Some Norwegian women skiers also struck back with victories of their own, but Klæbo continued to astound everyone including rivals who applauded his success.

Johannes Høsflot Klæbo (center) claimed his sixth World Cup victory in a row over the weekend. PHOTO: FIS

Frederico Pellegrino of the Italian men’s ski team was among those clapping for Klæbo, after he sped past Pellegrino to clinch his latest victory in the men’s sprint. While Klæbo was so assured of winning that he clapped for the public as he crossed the finish line, Pellegrino clapped for Klæbo and his amazing presentation as he came in from behind.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported that it was a rare reaction and honour from a competitor. Pellegrino has earlier expressed his admiration for Klæbo’s talent, and he’s not alone.

“What a demonstration of power,” exclaimed former Norwegian skier Oddbjørn Hjelmeset after Klæbo won yet again. The retired Bjørn Dæhlie, arguably Norway’s most famous and successful cross-country skiing star with eight Olympic gold medals, is in awe of Klæbo. “He has a speed and a technique that I’ve never seen before,” Dæhlie told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “He’s as good in the long-distance races as he is in the sprint. He’s a unique guy.”

The low-key Klæbo himself was pleased as well. “It’s an incredible feeling,” he told Norway’s TV2. “It’s cool to win again.”

On Monday Norwegian skiing officials announced that Klæbo will compete again at World Cup events at Toblach this weekend, in the 10- and 15-kilometer races. He will not, however, take part in the gruelling Tour de Ski long-distance races that begin December 30.

“We have evaluated the toll this can take on Johannes, and now it’s important not to over-exert,” Norway’s sprint coach Arild Monsen stated in a press release on Monday. It’s important that the 21-year-old Klæbo remains in great shape for the Olympics in February.

Norway’s women’s ski team, meanwhile, won top spots at the weekend’s World Cup in Davos themselves. Ingvild Flugstad Østberg won the 10-kilometer event and Ragnhild Haga placed second ahead of Krista Pärmäkoski of Finland. Østberg was quick to claim that Davos is her “favorite place,” since it’s also where she won a 15K race last year. Østberg also won the sprint in Davos in 2014.

Norway’s ski queen Marit Bjørgen did not do well in Davos. She’s suddenly lost some momentum and ended in ninth place in the 10K, behind teammates Østberg, Haga and Heidi Weng, who was fourth.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund