After a season of near total dominance, Norwegians failed to win either of the long-distance World Cup races for men and women held during the Holmenkollen Ski Festival over the weekend. They wound up beaten by a Russian and a Swede.
Alexsandr Bolsjunov of Russia won the men’s 50-kilometer race, with Simen Hegstad Krüger and Emil Iversen of Norway placing second and third respectively. Frida Karlsson of Sweden won the women’s 30K race, beating Therese Johaug of Norway who placed second, followed by another Swede, Ebba Andersson in third place.
The results were in line with some sports commentators’ hopes that the Norwegian favourites would be beaten, if only to make cross-country skiing less predictable and even boring. In Johaug’s case, she and the other Norwegians were outsmarted by the Swedish team’s decision to switch skis after 18.6 kilometers. Both Karlsson and veteran Swedish skier Charlotte Kalla had much better glide for the rest of race, and Karsson beat Johaug by 1.2 seconds.
Others speculated that the Norwegians missed the thousands of cheering fans who normally line the ski trails at Holmenkollen. While some did show up, the vast majority followed public health officials’ orders to stay away from the annual ski festival that usually attracts tens of thousands, for fears of spreading the Corona virus.
Norwegian skier and jumper Jarl Magnus Riiber, meanwhile, won the overall World Cup’s combined events on Saturday after dominating his sport all season long. Riiber won the ski-jumping portion, landing at 135 meters, and was also ahead of all his rivals in the ski-racing portion.