Norwegian skiers won both the men’s and women’s versions of the tough Tour de Ski series of races when it all finally ended on Sunday after eight stages. Winners Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Therese Johaug confirmed their roles as the most powerful skiers in the world.
“I think it was my best tour ever,” Johaug claimed after once again all but flying up the so-called “monster hill” of Alpe Cermis on Sunday’s last lap. It normally functions as a slalom course for downhill skiers, and the uphill race starts on the valley floor at Val de Fiemme in Italy.
With teammate Marit Bjørgen off on maternity leave after winning Tour de Ski last year, Johaug could claim her second victory not only in Sunday’s nine-kilometer uphill ordeal but also combined, sharing the overall winners’ podium with Ingvild Flugstad Østberg of Norway in second place and Heidi Weng of Norway in third.
The overall winners’ podium for the men’s Tour de Ski had Sundby on top followed by Finn Hågen Krogh of Norway in second place, but the two Norwegians had to share the podium with Sergei Ustjugov of Russia in third place. Ustjugov beat Petter Northug, who had badly wanted to win his first Tour de Ski but wound up fourth after all eight stages. It was Sundby’s third Tour de Ski victory and he also continues to lead in World Cup competition this year.
Northug didn’t claim the success he’d sought in Tour de Ski this year, but could console himself with prizes announced back home in Norway over the weekend, as “Male Athlete of the Year” and the “Name of the Year” at a sports banquet in Lillehammer. Johaug won as “Female Athlete of the Year,” while the best team was, once again, the women’s national handball team. Mats Zuccarello, the Norwegian ice hockey star who’s having a great year with the New York Rangers, won as best team player.