Gold rush rolls on for Norway’s skiers

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Maren Lundby’s gold medal in women’s ski jumping on Wednesday kept Norway firmly in the lead at the World Championships in Seefeld, Austria. So did Martin Johnsrud Sundby’s more surprising gold in the men’s 15-kilometer race earlier in the day, after even more gold was mined on Tuesday.

Martin Johnsrud Sundby finally won his first World Championship gold medal, at an age of 34. He also won a bronze medal earlier in the competition, which runs through this weekend. PHOTO: GEPA pictures/ Harald Steiner/WSC Seefeld2019

Norway continued to utterly dominate the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships at Seefeld this week, with 16 medals and fully half of them gold as of Wednesday evening. Norway’s next-closest rival was Germany, with seven medals, followed by Sweden in third place with three.

“It’s been a long road to get this here,” Sundby grinned as he held up his first individual gold medal after 10 years of competing in both World Championships and Olympics. He’s done well on the World Cup circuit, and won other medals in the big international competitions, but never gold.

On Wednesday the 34-year-old skier from Oslo, who has also battled doping charges tied to his asthma medicine, finally prevailed in the men’s 15-kilometer classic race at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Seefeld. “I was afraid the train had gone,” Sundby told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) as he described his relief after the constant pressure of striving to excel, especially at his age. “I’m so glad I managed this here.” Despite some teasing from teammates who suggested he could now finally retire while on top, Sundby responded that “no, you’ll have to put up with me for a few more years.”

Norwegian ski jumper Maren Lundby also won gold later on Wednesday, landing just ahead of Katharina Althaus of Germany (left) and Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria. PHOTO: GEPA pictures/ Philipp Brem/ WSC Seefeld2019

Maren Lundby, meanwhile, had been favoured to win a gold medal in women’s ski jumping, not least after the Norwegian team won bronze in joint jumping earlier in the week. The 24-year-old Lundby has been on a roll this season, winning her ninth gold medal in the World Cup just before the World Championships began. She barely edged out rival Katharina Althaus of Germany, who took silver, winning by half-a-point after a jump of 104.5 meters.

Now the women ski jumpers’ performance has been so strong that officials back home in Norway have lost all doubts about inviting them to participate in ski flying competition off the big ski jump in Vikersund. “There are no limits to how far women can jump any longer,” Clas Brede Bråthen, sports chief for the Norwegian Ski Federation, told NRK on Thursday.

Skiers Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (left) and Therese Johaug (right) could pose with Queen Sonja and King Harald after winning bronze and gold respectively in the women’s 10-kilometer classic earlier in the week. Johaug is remembered for throwing herself into the open arms of the Norwegian monarch when she also won gold at the World Championships in Oslo in 2011. PHOTO: WSC Seefeld 2019

Norwegian skiers won even more medals and gold on Tuesday, when the triumphant Therese Johaug finished first once again in the women’s 10-kilometer classic and teammate Ingvild Flugstad Østberg won bronze. They were greatly challenged, though, by Sweden’s new 19-year-old skiing comet Frida Karlsson. She’s being called “the new Johaug,” and won silver right behind Johaug on Tuesday.

On Thursday afternoon, the Norwegian women would be facing tough Swedish competition again in the relay that involves four laps of five kilometers each. Johaug was tapped to ski the last, and often decisive, lap against another Swedish skiing star, Stina Nilsson, and several other top skiers. Østberg will be skiing in the relay as well, on the second lap, against Karlsson again.

Men’s ski jumping competition was also scheduled for Thursday, with the men’s relay and more jumping on Friday. Long-distance races and combined ski-jumping and racing were on tap during the weekend, with the World Championships ending on Sunday.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund