This year it was finally Norwegian skier Heidi Weng’s turn to win the gruelling Tour de Ski tournament that’s been running around the alps for the past week. Long dominated by absent teammates Therese Johaug and Marit Bjørgan, Weng worked hard to follow in their tracks and prevailed in the end.
Weng herself gave the most credit for her win to her mother May Bente, who kept encouraging her daughter in daily phone conversations. “It was important to talk with someone who had more faith in me than I had in myself,” Weng told newspaper Aftenposten.
It was by no means certain that Weng would win, which made the entire tournament a bit more exciting and unpredictable than it has been in recent years. “I think I had a lot of bad luck (during the competition),” Weng told newspaper Dagsavisen when it was all over. “I had bad skis in some critical races. I also got food poisoning over Christmas, so I thought everything was going wrong.”
Her tears on Sunday were of joy, not frustration. Weng won the overall Tour de Ski ahead of Krista Pärmäkoski of Finland and Stina Nilsson of Sweden. Norwegian teammate Ingrid Flugstad Østberg finished fourth just ahead of Jessica Diggins of the US.
This was the first Tour de Ski in years that wasn’t dominated by Norwegians in the men’s races, either. With Petter Northug suffering a mysterious ailment this season, and Martin Johnsrud Sundby making a comeback after being charged with incorrectly using his asthma medicine, Sergey Ustiugov of Russia won the men’s Tour de Ski. Sundby came in second, though, followed by Dario Cologna of Switzerland in third place.