CROSS COUNTRY Preview: Johaug’s five-race streak on the line in Tolbach

Just as with the Alpine skiers, there’s no rest for the Cross Country World Cup, with four sets of races scheduled for the coming 10 days:

Men:
∙ 29-30 December: Men’s Sprint Freestyle & 15 km Freestyle in Tolbach (ITA)
∙ 01 January: Men’s Sprint Free in Val Mustair (SUI)
∙ 02-03 January: Men’s 15 km Pursuit Classical & 15 km Pursuit Free in Obertsdorf (GER)
∙ 05-06 January: Men’s 10 km Mass Start Classical & 9 km Pursuit Free in Val di Fiemme (ITA)

Women:
∙ 29-30 December: Women’s Sprint Freestyle & 10 km Freestyle in Tolbach (ITA)
∙ 01 January: Women’s Sprint Free in Val Mustair (SUI)
∙ 02-03 January: Women’s 10 km Mass Start Classical & 10 km Pursuit Free in Obertsdorf (GER)
∙ 05-06 January: Women’s 10 km Mass Start Classical & 9 km Pursuit Free in Val di Fiemme (ITA)

The story of the season so far has been the amazing return of Norway’s Therese Johaug, a triple Olympic medalist from 2010 and 2014, but kept out of the 2018 Winter Games because of a doping positive caused by a loaded lip balm!

She has returned with a vengeance, winning all five World Cup distances races, including three 10 km races, a Pursuit and a 15 km race. She has been chased home twice by Charlotte Kalla (SWE) and Norwegian teammate Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg has two silvers and a bronze. Can Johaug, now 30, keep it up? Can anyone beat her?

The Sprint races have been won by Yulia Belorukova (RUS), Jonna Sundling (SWE) and Stina Nilsson (SWE). Both American medals on tour so far have come in Sprint races, from Sadie Bjornsen (bronze) and Sophie Caldwell (silver).

Among the men, the situation is far more confused. Alexander Bolshunov (RUS) with both of the opening-weekend races in Ruka (FIN), but those are his only medals of the season so far. Five men have won the succeeding six races, with only Sjur Roethe (NOR) winning twice.

In the points standings, Bolshunov leads a very tight men’s pack with 367, followed by Roethe (329) and Emil Iversen (NOR, 328). Among the women, Johaug has 600 points to 451 for Oestberg and 409 for Swede Ebba Andersson.

The full schedule and results links are here.

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