Norway’s women skiers won more gold medals over the weekend but none of the men did as well. In one case, a member of the Norwegian men’s national ski team even had to excuse himself, for spoiling a race not only for himself but for host country Finland as well.
“Anteeksi, Suomi” is what Emil Iversen from Meråker in Norway had to tell Iivo Niskanen after ruining Niskanen’s chance for a gold medal on home turf at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Lahti, Finland on Sunday. Iversen changed tracks in a critical swing of the trail, Niskanen was thrown off balance at high speed and both of them landed on the snow and lost their chances for the gold or even a silver. Niskanen wound up with bronze while Russia’s and Italy’s teams grabbed the top two victories in the men’s classic team sprint. Norway wound up fourth, also a disappointment for Iversen’s teammante Johannes Høsflot Klæbo.
“S-o-r-r-y,” is how newspaper Aftenposten described Iversen’s apology to Klæbo as he left the stadium in tears. Finland’s furious head coach complained that Iversen “cried like a little kid who’d lost his lollypop” and caused Finland to lose a gold medal because of Iversen’s maneuver. Norwegian coaches apologized, “laying themselves completely flat” as they say when admitting full fault. Iversen was crushed.
It all meant that after six men’s races at the World Championships, Norway still doesn’t have any gold medals. Martin Johnsrud Sundby won silver, losing to Sergey Ustjugovetter of Russia, and Finn Hågen Krogh won bronze in the men’s 30-kilometer race on Saturday. The male athletes who combine cross-country skiing with ski jumping also won silver in team competition on Sunday, but there were no gold medals.
The Norwegian women did much better, with veteran super skier Marit Bjørgen winning another gold medal in the 15 kilometer race on Saturday at an age of 36. She could add it to the 14 gold medals she already has assembled over her brilliant skiing career. Bjørgen called her 15th gold in the 15-km race “completely special,” though, because it was her first as a mother. She’s been making an impressive comeback this season after missing last year’s on maternity leave.
Maiken Caspersen Falla, meanwhile, has been having a great World Championships, too, after first winning gold in the women’s sprint and then winning the team sprint on Sunday along with Heidi Weng on Sunday. They skied the 1.3-km course six times in just 20 minutes, 20.56 seconds and beat Russia’s team, which took silver, and the US, which took bronze.
Monday was a day off for all the competitors, but they were due back in action on Tuesday with the women’s 10-km classic race. The World Championships run through March 5.