Kuusamo/Lillehammer wrap up
The 2013-14 FIS Cross-Country World Cup presented by Viessmann is now two weeks old and some familiar faces have been on the podium along with some new ones.
On the ladies’ side Justyna Kowalczyk (POL), Marit Bjørgen (NOR), Therese Johaug (NOR) and Charlotte Kalla (SWE) have battled for podium space in the three distance competitions.
Kowalczyk has won both individual start classic technique events with Bjørgen and Kalla sharing the podium with her. Kowalczyk’s win in the 10 km classic in Lillehammer last weekend was her first distance victory on Norwegian soil. In addition, the U.S. ladies showed that they are a podium threat in the relay on World Cup if not a medal in Sochi. The Finnish ladies also displayed strength over the first two weekends. Despite no individual podium results, as a group they proved that on a relay they are a podium threat finishing second in Lillehammer.
On the men’s side, the door is wide open. Many of the big names have been hovering around the podium, but few have stood there more than once so far. With Dario Cologna on the sideline due to injury, and Petter Northug Jr. not in top shape, new and familiar names have filled that vacant space. Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby was dominant in Kuusamo, but missed the podium in Lillehammer. Teammate Pål Golberg, known for his sprinting, took third in Kuusamo in the 10 km classic, and followed that result up in Lillehammer with his first World Cup win of his career in the 15 km classic.
At the end of the mini-tour in Kuusamo, four Norwegians and four Russians took eight of the top 10 spots. That strength showed again in Lillehammer in the men’s 4 x 7.5 km relay with Russia out duelling three Norwegian teams for the victory.
Up next is Davos with mid-distance free technique events, the15/30 km and for the first time this season free technique sprints. After a classic technique heavy opening two weekends it will be interesting to see what names finish at the top.