CROSS COUNTRY SKIING: Klaebo and Oestberg sweep Val di Fiemme and Tour de Ski honors

Norway's Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (Photo: Frankie Fouganthin via Wikipedia)

The seven-leg “Tour de Ski” in Italy, Germany and Switzerland provides an early-season look at the real contenders for seasonal honors in the FIS Cross Country World Cup.

They would be Norwegians Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo and Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg.

Each won both races in Val de Fiemme (ITA) – a Mass Start and a Pursuit with a final climb – to win the Tour de Ski titles by 16.7 seconds for Klaebo (over Russian Sergey Ustiugov) and a startling 2:42.0 for Oestberg over new star Natalia Nepryaeva of Russia.

Oestberg won the last four races out of the seven held and was first or second in five. Klaebo was even better, winning five of seven, with Ustiugov placing in the top three in five of seven races and beating Klaebo twice.

We’ve passed the halfway mark in the Cross Country World Cup season, with 17 of 32 races completed. Klaebo is leading Bolshunov by 934-810 in the men’s standings and Oestberg has a big 1,152-883 lead over Krista Parmakoski (FIN). Norway’s Therese Johaug, who has won all six races she entered, skipped the Tour de Ski and now sits sixth with 600 points. Summaries:

FIS Cross Country World Cup/Tour de Ski
Val di Fiemme (ITA) ~ 5-6 January 2019
(Full results here)

Men’s 15 km Mass Start Classical: 1. Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo (NOR), 40:52.6; 2. Francesco De Fabiani (ITA), 40:53.2; 3. Alexander Bolshunov (RUS), 40:55.2; 4. Andrey Larkov (RUS), 40:56.0; 5. Maxim Vylegzhanin (RUS), 40:57.2.

Men’s 9 km Pursuit Freestyle: 1. Klaebo (NOR), 32:51.3; 2. Sergey Ustiugov (RUS), 31:47.6; 3. Simon Hegsted Krueger (NOR), 30:33.3; 4. Sjur Roethe (NOR), 30:32.0; 5. Bolshunov (RUS), 32:34.1.

Tour de Ski Final Standings: 1. Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo (NOR), 3:07:59.4; 2. Sergey Ustiugov (RUS), +16.7; 3. Simen Hegsted Krueger (NOR), +48.8; 4. Sjur Roethe (NOR), +1:05.3; 5. Alexander Bolsbunov (RUS), +1:26.6.

Women’s 10 km Mass Start Classical: 1. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR), 29:34.4; 2. Natalia Nepyraeva (RUS), 29:44.4; 3. Anastasia Sedova (RUS), 29:45.2; 4. Krista Parmakoski (FIN), 29:46.9; 5. Yulia Belorukova (RUS), 30:14.1. Also: 7. Jessica Diggins (USA), 30:53.7.

Women’s 9 km Pursuit Freestyle: 1. Oestberg (NOR), 35:15.0; 2. Nepryaeva (RUS), 37:03.6; 3. Parmakoski (FIN), 35:57.8; 4. Sedova (RUS), 36:04.6; 5. Belorukova (RUS), 37:35.0. Also: 6. Diggins (USA), 37:20.6.

Tour de Ski Final Standings: 1. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR), 2:30:31.2; 2. Natalia Nepryaeva (RUS), +2:42.0; 3. Krista Parmakoski (FIN), +2:55.9; 4. Anastasia Sedova (RUS), +3:53.2; 5. Yulia Belorukova (RUS), +4:47.4. Also: 6. Jessica Diggins (USA), +5:13.2.