Norwegian skiers weren’t the only winter sports stars back in action over the weekend. Speedskaters Håvard Bøkko and Sverre Lunde Pedersen could mount the winners’ platform in Heerenveen, The Netherlands, on Sunday after winning second and third place in the 1500-meter race at World Cup competiton.
While Norway’s cross-country skiers competed at a national season opener in Beitostølen, the skaters traveled south to compete in their first World Cup event of the season. Bøkko, back on the Norwegian team after a few years on his own with outspoken American coach Peter Mueller, hadn’t done well earlier in the competition. He’s suffered illness and wasn’t quite ready to face off against Sven Kramer and other Dutch rivals in the 5,000-meter race, ending in eighth place with Kramer well ahead.
Bøkko, age 25, was best among the Norwegians, though, with a time of 6.26.30. Kramer’s time was 6.16.09.
On Sunday, Bøkko could claim silver but had to admit that teammate Pedersen is breathing down his neck and that he had to watch out for Norway’s “crown prince” on the ice. Pedersen said after winning the bronze in the 1,500-meter that he’d been “working hard for a long time,” adding that it was “fun to see that I’m improving all the time.”
It was the first World Cup victory for the 20-year-old Pedersen, who’s a former junior world champion. He’s only beat Bøkko once, in the European Championships last year.
The winner on Sunday, meanwhile, was Maurice Vriend, also 20, of The Netherlands.