Kuusamo Facts: A podium history of the Ruka Triple
With the start of the 4th edition of the Ruka Triple mini tour just two days away there are many records to be set. Marit Bjørgen of Norway has won the previous three versions of the Tour. If Justyna Kowalcyzk (POL) can win she will be the first athlete to win all three World Cup "tours" (Ruka Triple, Tour de Ski, World Cup Final). On the men's side Petter Northug Jr. will be looking for the "hat trick" having won the two previous seasons. Will a Finnish male skier be the first to win a stage of the Ruka Triple?
Bjørgen can extend unbeaten run in Ruka triple
> Marit Bjørgen (NOR) has won all three previous editions of the “Opening Tour”, the Ruka triple in Kuusamo.
> Bjørgen has won both stage one and two in Kuusamo in all three editions: 2010, 2011 and 2012.
> Norwegian athletes have won all stages held so far in the Ruka triple. Bjørgen has won seven, and Therese Johaug has won two stages (both times by recording the fastest time in the pursuit).
> Norway has taken six of the nine podium places in the previous editions of Ruka triple overall. In 2011 it was an all-Norwegian podium with Marit Bjørgen-Therese Johaug- Vibeke Skofterud.
> Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) and Charlotte Kalla (SWE) are the only two non-Norwegian athletes to finish on the podium in Ruka triple. Kowalczyk was second in 2010 and 2012, while Kalla was third in 2010. > Marit Bjørgen has been on the podium in 31 of her 39 world cup events the last three seasons. Justyna Kowalczyk has 32 podium finishes in 52 world cup starts.
Justyna Kowalczyk can be the first to win “the treble” of Tours
> Justyna Kowalczyk will be the first female athlete to win all the three different tours in cross country skiing if she wins the Ruka triple. Kowalczyk won the World Cup Final tour in 2009, and has won the Tour de Ski four times. Marit Bjørgen has won both the World Cup Final and the Ruka triple, but not Tour de Ski.
> Kowalczyk has one previous win in Kuusamo, sprint classical style in the World Cup 28 November 2009.
> Kowalczyk has the most podium places in tours with 10, one ahead of Marit Bjørgen with nine. A total of 16 tours have been organised (Ruka triple, Tour de Ski and World Cup Final).
> Kowalczyk is one of only three athletes to start in all 16 tours. Katerina Smutna (AUT) and Katrin Zeller (GER) are the other two. None of the three have finished all 16 tours.
Johaug looking for first Tour-win
> Therese Johaug (NOR) could be only the second Norwegian lady after Marit Bjørgen to win a cross country skiing tour if she wins in Kuusamo.
> Johaug has been on the podium seven times in a World Cup tour without winning. Five times in second place and two times in third place.
> Johaug has not been worse than fourth in any of her last eight tours.
> If Johaug wins she will be the second youngest lady to win a tour. 25 years old, she is five years older than Charlotte Kalla who won the Tour de Ski in the 2007/2008 season.
Bjørgen and Kowalczyk dominates sprint classical style
> The first stage of this year’s Ruka triple is sprint classical style. Marit Bjørgen (6) and Justyna Kowalczyk (5) have won 11 of the last 12 sprints held in classical style (includes stages, World Cup races and World Championships). The last winner was Mona-Liisa Malvalehto (FIN), who won in Liberec Jan 12 2013. Kowalczyk was second, while Bjørgen did not participate in this race.
Northug jr. aiming for Ruka hat trick
> Petter Northug jr (NOR) missed almost two months of training this autumn with illness. Northug returned to racing last weekend in Beitostølen and will be aiming for his third win in a row in Kuusamo. > Northug won the Ruka triple both in 2011 and 2012, while Russian Alexander Legkov won the first edition in 2010.
> Northug has won only one stage in his two Kuusamo-wins, 10km freestyle in 2011.
> It looks to be victory or nothing for Northug. Last season he was on the podium in nine of 19 individual starts in World Cup and World Championships. Eight of the nine podium places were wins.
> Last season was the first season since 2007/2008 that Northug was on the podium in less than half of this World Cup and WCH/OG-starts (Tour stages not included). 2011/2012 saw Northug on the podium in seven of nine starts. 2010/2011 he had 11 podium visits on 15 starts, 2009/2010 gave 13 podiums on 17 starts, while 2008/2009 was 10 podiums on 18 starts. In 2007/2008-season Northug only finished on the podium once in 16 starts.
New races – new winners in Kuusamo?
> A total of 18 individual World Cup races have been held in Kuusamo (not including Tour-stages). The 18 races have seen 14 different winners. Only Petter Northug with three wins, Axel Teichmann (GER) and Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR) on two wins have won more than once in Ruka.
No joy for Finnish hopes on home snow
> In all 18 World Cup races in Kuusamo Finland has never won a race in the men’s competition. Only once has a local athletes entered the podium, Sami Jauhojärvi was third on 15km classical style 30 November 2008. This is the only male Finnish result on the podium in a World Cup race on home snow since the World Championships in Lahti 2001. Jauhojärvi was also third in a stage in Ruka triple 2010, in sprint classical style.
> No Finnish male skier has won a World Cup event on home snow since Jari Isometsä won 30km freestyle in Lahti in 1996. Since then Finland has only had three athletes on the podium in a world cup race at home.
Northug could equal Svartedals record in classical sprints
> The first stage of this year’s Ruka triple is sprint classical style. Petter Northug has won the last two sprints held in classical style (World Cup in Drammen and stage in the World Cup Final 2012/2013). Northug has only won one more classic sprint, in Rogla in Dec 2009.
> If Northug wins the classical sprint he will be the first since Jens Arne Svartedal (NOR) in 2006-2007 to win three consecutive classical sprints (including World Cup, stages, World Championships and Olympic Games). Svartedal is the only athlete to achieve this in the history of classical sprint, he did it three times during his career.
> Nikita Kriukov (RUS) is the reigning world champion and Olympic champion in sprint classical style. Kriukov also won the sprint classic in the Ruka triple 2012.
> Even with five international wins in sprint classic, Kriukov is yet to win a “normal” World Cup race in sprint classic. His five wins are Olympic Games 2010, World Championships 2013, and one stage each in Tour de Ski, World Cup Final and Ruka triple.