Summary of national openings
Charlotte Kalla of the Swedish National Ski team showed that she is ready for the World Cup season by winning all three of the opening competitions in Bruksvallarna, Sweden. On Friday she cruised to victory in the 5 km classic. In Saturday’s 10 km freestyle she won by almost a minute and concluded her sweep winning Sunday’s free technique sprints.
On the men’s side Calle Halfvarsson display good form finding the podium twice in both distance events in Bruksvallarna. Halfvarsson narrowly beat Daniel Richardsson in Friday’s 10 km classic event for the win and was less than six seconds from the win in Saturday 15 km free style competition. Richardsson competed incredibly well after a traumatic car accident in the summer in which he injured his knee. France’s Jean Marc Gaillard also appears to be entering the season in good shape with a podium finish in men’s 15 km free technique.
Hanna Falk in Sunday’s sprint event was the morning’s top qualifier and outlasted everyone but Kalla in the sprint final to get her season started well. Teodor Peterson was the class of the field in the men’s sprint. Emil Jønsson sat out the Bruksvallarna events as he recovers from illness. Look for him to kick things off in Kuusamo.
Therese Johaug and Martin Johnsrud Sundby won both of competitions they entered in Beitostølen. Johaug blew the field away in the ladies’ 10 km classic event on Friday by over 50 seconds and won again on Saturday in the 10 km free style competition. While Sundby won handily in Friday’s 15 km classic, it was a close battle with Sjur Røthe Saturday in the 15 km free technique but Sundby still came out on top by less than two seconds.
Petter Northug Jr.’s coach predicted a 69th place finish in Friday’s classic competition and he managed a 61st place finish and improved to 12th on Saturday and did not advance to the finals in Sunday’s sprint.
Astrid Jacobsen had her best-ever results in Beitostølen finishing second to Johaug on Friday and taking third on Saturday behind Johaug and Marit Bjørgen. Bjørgen skipped Friday’s competition and took second place Saturday 18 seconds back from Johaug and was 4th in Sunday’s sprint.
A strong Russian presence at the Inari competitions took many of the top spots over the three days of competition. Familiar names were on the podium in the men’s sprint with Nikita Kriukov and Alexey Petukhov taking second and third place. In the ladies’ sprint Irina Khazova was the day’s winner.
On day two, World Cup regular Masako Ishida of Japan was second place in the ladies’ 5 km classic showing good fitness heading into two classic events in Kuusamo. Familiar Russian names Dmitriy Japarov, Alexander Bessmertnykh and Petr Sedov skied strong in the men’s 10 km classic.
The final day of competition featured the 10/15 km free technique competitions. Ishida and Khazova both found themselves back on the podium. In the men’s 15 km Sedov took the top spot ahead of World Cup veteran Maxim Vylegzhanin and Japarov.
Many World Cup regulars and super stars look to be on track for a successful World Cup opening weekend in Kuusamo.