Congratulations to the Federation Internationale de Ski, which is managing to get its 2021 World Championships in Nordic Skiing and Snowboard staged during the pandemic, albeit in unusual fashion. Here’s what happened since the weekend:
● Cross Country Skiing ● Norway – and distance superstar Therese Johaug – continued their winning ways at the Nordic World Champs in Obertsdorf (GER) with Johaug’s dominant win in the women’s 10 km Freestyle event on Tuesday (2nd).
Leading essentially from the start, the 32-year-old Johaug raced away from everyone in the final half and won in 23:09.8, a staggering 54.2 seconds ahead of runner-up Frida Karlsson (SWE). The win gives Johaug 12 World Championships gold medals, nine of which are in individual events. It’s her second gold of this Championships and she will be the overwhelming favorite in the 30 km Mass Start event on the weekend.
The fight for third saw American star Jessie Diggins holding the bronze-medal position into the final kilometer, but she faded to fourth as Swede Ebba Andersson took third at 24:16.7, with Diggins at 24:21.8.
The men’s 15 km Freestyle was a Norwegian sweep, their second in these Championships, with Hans Christer Holund winning in 33:48.7, trailed by Simen Hegstad Krueger (34:08.9) and Harald Ostberg Amundsen (34:24.3). Holund won his second medal of 2021, following his third in the Skiathlon; he also owns a 2019 Worlds golds for the 50 km Freestyle, coming up this weekend.
● Nordic Combined ● The next competition comes on Thursday (4th), with the men’s Gundersen off a 137 m hill and 10 km race. Norway’s Jarl Magnus Riiber, already the winner of the Normal Hill-10 km event, is again the favorite.
● Ski Jumping ● The women’s Large Hill (137 m) competition on Wednesday (3rd) was once again a Norwegian showcase, with Maren Lundby winning her second medal of these Championships and winning the first large-hill event for women in the Nordic Worlds.
After finishing second in the Normal Hill event (106 m) on 25 February, Lundby produced technically excellent jumps in both rounds to compile 296.6 points, ahead of Japan’s Sara Takanashi – the Normal Hill bronze medalist – by 8.7 points (287.9). Slovenia’s Nika Kriznar won the bronze at 287.1 points.
The Normal Hill winner, Eva Klinec (SLO) produced the longest jump of the day, in the second round, at 139.5 m (~458 feet!), but scored only 146.3 points; she finished sixth overall.
After 16 events in the Nordic Worlds, Norway leads with 22 of the 48 medals awarded; Sweden (2-2-2) and Slovenia (1-1-4) have six each.
● Snowboard ● The World Championships in Parallel events was held in Rogla (SLO) on 1-2 March, with strong results for Russia and Germany.
The Russians are, of course, required to compete as the “Russian Ski Federation” during their suspension period, but that did not stop Dmitry Loginov and Andrey Sobolev from winning half of the men’s medals available.
In the Parallel Giant Slalom, Loginov – still only 21 – defended his 2019 Worlds victory successfully, finishing ahead of Italian veteran Roland Fischnaller by just 0.01, with Sobolev winning the bronze by 0.21 over Korea’s Sangkyum Kim. It was Fischnaller’s sixth Worlds medal from 2011-21 and an amazing feat at age 40!
Sobolev, who was Parallel Giant Slalom World Champion in 2015, won his fourth career Worlds medal.
The Parallel Slalom was a 1-2 finish for Austria, with Benjamin Karl, 35, winning his fifth World title by 0.09 over countryman Andreas Prommegger, 40, who won his first career Worlds medal. Loginov won the bronze in the all-Russian third-place race by 0.02 over Sobolev.
The women’s Parallel races were dominated by Germany’s Selina Joerg and Russian Sofia Nadyrshina, who each won two medals. Joerg, 33, defended her 2019 Parallel Giant Slalom title with a 0.12 edge in the final against Nadyrshina – age 17 – who won her first Worlds medal. Austria’s Julia Drujmovits won the bronze over teammate Claudia Riegler by 1.05 seconds.
In the Parallel Slalom, Nadyrshina took the gold over Germany’s Ramona Theresia Hofmeister, 24, who did not finish in the final. Joerg won the bronze by 0.08 in a tight duel with Canadian Megan Farrell.
The final stage of the Snowboard Worlds, broken into pieces for 2021, will feature Big Air, Aerials and Moguls, and will be held in Aspen, Colorado (USA), from 10-16 March.
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