Johaug and Sundby dominate Lillehammer Skiathlon - UDPATED
Therese Johaug and Martin Johnsrud Sundby both of Norway and current overall World Cup leaders had dominant victories in the skiathlon competition in Lillehammer, Norway.
Johaug has now won the last four World Cup skiathlon events and has finished on the podium in ten of her last eleven starts on World Cup or Championships. From the race start Johaug put down a fast pace and was able early on to separate from the field along with her teammate Heidi Weng and Sweden's Charlotte Kalla. Johaug skied away towards the end of the classic portion and increased her lead right up to the finish winning in a time of 42:17.7. Weng and Kalla battled right to the finish line with Kalla leading down the final hill but was unable to hold off Weng who took second +1:29.3 behind Johaug. Kalla settled with third +1:29.4. The ladies top ten was filled with 5 different nations with strong performances from Germany's Nicole Fessel in 4th, and the Czech Republic's Petra Novakova in 6th who is back after season ending shoulder surgery last January.
In the men's competition Sundby won his 5th career World Cup competition. It was his first in the skiathlon format, he had been runner up on three previous occasions including the World Championships in 2013 in Val di Fiemme. Like the ladies' race Sundby pushed the pace early and broke away with a small leading group. By the end of the classic leg it was down to just three athletes and Sundby broke away early in the skate portion and increased his lead over the final 15 km. In second place was Niklas Dyrhaug who recorded his first ever second place World Cup finish +44.0 seconds behind Sundby and in third for his first World Cup podium was Hans Christer Holund +46.9.
Therese Johaug, NOR
I really enjoyed skiing on the hard tracks in Lillehammer. They fit me very well. I had perfect skis. It was a hard race. I tried to stay focused on my technique and I built up the gap on Heidi and Charlotte. I will have to work hard to keep this good shape the whole season.
Heidi Weng, NOR
I felt very good in classical part. In the skate portion I got stiff but I tried to fight. I kept focused on the second place. It was very hard to ski with Charlotte.
Charlotte Kalla, SWE
I had perfect skis but I had to try hard in the classic. After the ski exchange I wanted to relax little bit and keep good technique. In the last lap I managed to close the gap on Heidi. I think it might have been better to come in the stadium behind Heidi but I am satisfied with 3rd place.
Martin Johnsrud Sundby, NOR
It was really tough, from the first meters to the finish. With the help of Norwegian guys we managed to break away. I could just push all the way. Probably my best competition of my career. It was my plan to win as many World Cup points as possible before Christmas. This season every weekend counts.
Niklas Dyrhaug, NOR
It was like a survival programme today. Really tough race from the beginning. I had great classic skis. The Norwegian team worked together very well. After the ski exchange Martin was really strong. I was lucky I was there with Hans. In the end I managed to ski to second place.
Hans Christer Holund, NOR
It is my first podium. It is like a dream come true for me. The race was hard from the first lap. The course is really hard. I was a little afraid about the chasing group coming from behind. I knew I was not so strong in the finish and I tried to ski as fast as I could so that they do not catch us. On the last hill I knew I did it and won a podium.
1. JOHAUG Therese NOR 42:17.7
2. WENG Heidi NOR +1:29.3
3. KALLA Charlotte SWE +1:29.4
4. FESSEL Nicole GER +1:54.8
5. FALLA Maiken Caspersen NOR +1:56.0
Complete ladies' results available HERE.
1. SUNDBY Martin Johnsrud NOR 1:19:22.9
2. DYRHAUG Niklas NOR +44.0
3. HOLUND Hans Christer NOR +46.9
4. ROETHE Sjur NOR +1:13.5
5. MANIFICAT Maurice FRA +1:18.2
Complete men's results available HERE.