6 January 2014

Norway historically fill podium for women's Tour de Ski

The Tour de Ski is a discipline roughly based on the grand tours of cycling testing cross-country skiiers over various disciplines. This year's event consisted of six stages.

This year the event started in Oberhof, Germany on 28th December for the first of two stages. The first was a short individual start free technique race over 3km for the women and 4.5km for the men. The following day there was a sprint over 1.4km again using the free technique.

On New Year's eve the event had moved on to Lenzerheide, Switzerland for a second sprint round. The the following day the new year was welcomed in with a mass start classical event over 10km for women and 15km for men. The Italian resort of Cortina-Toblach held the longest stage of the race on the 3rd of January with a 15km for women 35km for men free technique pursuit.

The final two days over the weekend brought us to Val di Fiemme in Italy. Saturday say the final Classical style race of the Tour with an individual start over 5km for women and 10km for men. But yesterday saw the tough mountain climb of Mount Cermis over a 9km route where the skiers set off based on their accumulated time from the previous events in pursuit once more.

Johaug crossing the line in triumph
Yesterday in the women's event Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen of Norway who had been consistently in the top five on each stage, bar the second, went off first. But behind her was her compatriot Therese Johaug who had been second twice and third once in the previous three Tours. On each of those three previous occasions it had been Johaug who had proven strongest pulling back at least 40 seconds on every other skier each year. Jacobsen only had a 23 second lead over Johaug.

Once again the final stage was to prove to be Therese Johaug's strength in the end she pulled back all of the 23 second deficit and opened a lead of 20.4 seconds to win Norway's first Tour de Ski. Almost three minutes back in third came a third Norwegian Heidi Weng. It was the first time that one nation has taken all three podium spots in either the men's or women's Tour de Ski events since their inception in 2007.

Overall result

1. Therese Johaug NOR 2:04:16.4 
2. Astrid  Uhrenholdt Jacobsen NOR +20.4
3. Heidi Weng NOR +2:50.4
4. Krista Lähteenmäki FIN +2:56.1
5. Kerttu Niskanen FIN +3:18.1

6.  Anne Kyllönen FIN +3:50.2

Sundby powering up Mount Cermis for his victory
For the men there was to be more Norwegian celebrations. Martin Johnsrud Sundby had a 30 second start lead over his fellow countryman Petter Northug and fellow countryman Chris Jespersen, who was making his debut in the Tour de Ski, going off third.

Northug has been second three times and third once so people were wondering if he could have the same fairy tale ending as Johaug had earlier in the day. However, Sundby was to stay in front for the entire race to secure the second Norwegian victory on the Cermis. Jespersen was to climb up to the second step on the podium and starting from fifth behind four Norwegians, Johannes Dürr of Austria was to spoil the party and prevent all six medals of the day heading to Norway.

Overall result

1.  Martin Johnsrud Sundby NOR 3:05:55.2
2.  Chris Jespersen NOR +36.0
3.  Johannes Dürr AUT  +1:05.9
4.  Petter Northug NOR +1:49.5
5. Sjur Røthe NOR +1:55.7
6. Alexander Legkov RUS +2:33.6

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