Falun 2015 test series hosts Cross-Country and Nordic Combined World Cup Finals
Despite the warm weather, the Finals of the Cross-Country and Nordic Combined disciplines were carried out successfully in Falun, concluding a series of pre-World Championship test events. In the course of the competition, more than 20,000 spectators came to watch the action live on-site at the site of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2015.
Cross-Country: Therese Johaug and Martin Johnsrud Sundby race into record books
From a sporting perspective, the events were not short of excitement. In Cross-Country, Norway’s Therese Johaug and Martin Johnsrud Sundby raced into history books as both won the World Cup Final and clinched the FIS Overall Cross-Country World Cup.
Sundby became the first skier to win all three Tour competitions in one season. He won the mini-tour in Kuusamo to start the season, and then became the first Norwegian man to win the FIS Tour de Ski in January. On Sunday, he wrapped up the 2013/14 season with the World Cup Final win and conquered the Overall World Cup and Distance World Cup titles. Sundby dominated the Overall World Cup with 1534 points, while runner up Alexander Legkov (RUS) finished in second, 554 points back. Alex Harvey managed second place in the World Cup Final and with this result moved into third in the Overall World Cup standings ahead of Norway's Chris Andre Jespersen.
Therese Johaug started Sunday’s 10 km pursuit start competition with a 15 second lead over Marit Bjoergen in the World Cup finals mini-tour. Whoever crossed the finish line first would not only win the mini-tour, but also clinch the Overall World Cup trophy. Johaug not only convincingly retained the yellow bib, but extended her lead to +29.2 seconds over Bjoergen to take her first ever crystal globe as the Overall World Cup champion. Heidi Weng completed a Norwegian sweep of the mini-tour podium by out sprinting Finland's Kerttu Niskanen on the finishing stretch. Despite withdrawing from the mini-tour due to post-concussion symptoms Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (NOR) remained in third place in the Overall standings. This is the first time since Russia in the 1994/95 season that one country swept the final Overall standings top 3.
Kikkan Randall (USA) and Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR) take third Sprint World Cup titles
Kikkan Randall (USA) clinched her third consecutive sprint crystal globe and became only the third lady to do so. Denise Herrmann (GER) finished in second place and Bjørgen in third place.
Before the final men’s sprint of the season Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR) led compatriot Eirik Brandsdal by 41 points with 50 points left to be awarded. With sprint leader Ola Vigen Hattestad being "ranked as last" for a rules infraction during his quarterfinal heat it meant that if Brandsdal finished third or better in the final he would make up the 41 point deficit to Hattestad. A big charge from the Swedish trio in the final and Canada's Alex Harvey and Brandsdal ended up settling for sixth.
Hattestad hung on by just eight points to take his third overall Sprint World Cup title. Brandsdal was in second Germany's Josef Wenzl in third becamethe only German male skier to ever make an overall Sprint title podium.
Frenzel takes it all in Nordic Combined
In the 2013/14 Nordic Combined season, superstar Eric Frenzel won everything that was up for grabs. The German walked away from the season finals in Falun not only with the crystal globe for the overall World Cup win, which he had already secured in Lahti (FIN), but also with the Nations Cup globe together with his German team who recorded a 98-point lead over Team Norway, completing his collection of trophies.
With seven individual wins out of seventeen races, three of them on consecutive days in the new Nordic Combined Triple, and a gold medal at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi (RUS), Frenzel completed the full sweep of titles this winter.
With a great finish to the season, Frenzel’s young teammate Johannes Rydzek moved up into second position in the overall standings, edging out Japan’s Akito Watabe who claimed third position.
Positive test event for 2015 World Championships
Despite challenging conditions the Falun 2015 Organising Committee held truly successful World Cup Finals. Due to lack of snow, the complete Cross-Country course system could not be tested, however, the re-designed tracks were awarded good marks both from athletes and FIS.
"It has been a fantastic weekend and I really like the new courses. I have a very positive impression,” Marit Bjørgen said.
Also the FIS Cross-Country Race Director Pierre Mignerey was very satisfied. “The Falun Organisers have made a great step forward towards the World Championships next year. The three-day Cross-Country World Cup Final was a success. We also saw a great enthusiasm and involvement of the Falun staff and I am very optimistic for the World Championships, looking forward to a great winter festival next February.”
In Nordic Combined the weekend was marked by wind, leading to a change of schedule for Saturday and then ultimately to the cancellation of the Team Event on Sunday. Nevertheless FIS Nordic Combined Race Director Lasse Ottesen was very positive about the organisation: “We had a really nice event with the individual competition and are sure to have great events here next year for the World Championships.”