She did it again: Norwegian ski queen Marit Bjørgen outclassed all her competition in the World Cup 30-kilometer race at Holmenkollen in Oslo on Sunday. She also managed to decide the race not long after it began, and match fellow Norwegian Martin Johnsrud Sundby’s victory on Saturday.
It only took Bjørgen around five minutes into the race to find the proverbial window of opportunity to get ahead of her rivals. After just three of the race’s 30 kilometers, which only took Bjørgen a matter of minutes to cover at her high speed, she already was running 10 full seconds ahead of her nearest competitor. She hung onto her lead, and none of the others competing against her had a chance.
“It was a very good race, but I have felt easier 30Ks,” Bjørgen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) after her latest victory. “I was fairly confident, though, that it would go my way.”
Her lead just continued to increase, to 20 seconds, then 30 seconds, then a minute and ultimately two minutes, much like her legendary performance at the World Championships in Finland late last month. Bjørgen skied the 30 kilometers (18 miles) around Holmenkollen in just one hour, 22 minutes and 59.2 seconds. She had a big smile on her face as she crossed the finish line alone, in front of thousands of cheering fans on home snow in Oslo.
Two minutes and nearly six seconds later came Krista Pärmäkoski of Finland to win the silver medal, with fellow Finnish skier Kerttu Niskanen just over a second behind her for the bronze.
Bjørgen’s performance was much like that of last year’s 30K winner at Holmenkollen, Therese Johaug, who dominated the season while Bjørgen was out on maternity leave. This year Johaug is suspended on controversial doping charges, leaving Bjørgen to resume her place at the top of women’s skiing, at time of great difficulties within Norwegian skiing. “She’s phenomenal,” said Jann Post, NRK’s skiing commentator, noting that her victory was her sixth at Holmenkollen. At age 36, Bjørgen is also the oldest skier to win the 30K in Oslo.
Bjørgen’s win followed Norwegian Martin Johnsrud Sundby’s victory in the men’s 50K race at Holmenkollen on Saturday. He also put on what commentators called a demonstraton of power, as he won the gruelling race in two hours, two minutes and 59.7 seconds, nearly 10 seconds ahead of Iivo Niskanen of Finland. Alexander Bessmertnykh of Russia placed third.
“This feels incredibly good,” said Sundby after the race. It’s always special for Norwegians to win at Holmenkollen when the World Cup comes to Oslo. At the same time, winning Saturday’s 50K secured Sundby’s second overall victory in this year’s World Cup, and that comes after being suspended for a few months over incorrect use of his asthma medicine.
“This is a dream that’s been lying there all season,” Sundby told NRK. “I’m incredibly proud that I managed it again this season.”