Kokslien is double Norwegian national champion 2017
Not only did Mikko Kokslien defend his national title from last year, he added two victories to his merit list in Beitostølen at the past weekend. The 32-year-old triumphed in the competitions over 5 and 10 km.
The first big surprise of the weekend was another athlete: 17-year-old Simen Kvarstad won both jumping rounds and started into the five and ten kilometres from the pole position.
In the 5 km event, Kvarstadt showed 101 metres on Midstua’s HS 106 hill and let with five seconds on Espen Andersen. German superstar Eric Frenzel payed the jumping part of the championship a surprise visit and captured the third rank in this event. He did not participate in the cross-country part, which was held two days later in Beitostølen, however, and so it was Harald Johnas Riiber, who started from position three, +14 seconds behind Kvarstad.
In Wednesday’s second jumping round, Kvarstad prevailed with 98 metres ahead of Sindre Ure Søtvik with 98 and Espen Andersen with 99 metres. This translated into a head start of six and ten seconds for the 10 km race.
In the 5 km race on the following Saturday, Kvarstad was able to crack the top ten with a ninth final position. Fastest athlete on the track was winner Mikko Kokslien who needed 12:10.5 for the race and improved from position seven. Olympic Champion Jørgen Graabak worked his way to the silver rank with the third-fastest time and overtook Kvarstad, Riiber, Søtvik and Andersen on the way. He even duelled with Kokslien but had to concede defeat in a finish line sprint that ended 0.9 second behind his older teammate. Andersen took bronze, finishing nine seconds after Kokslien.
On Sunday, it was 10 km time. Again, Kvarstad went out on the track first but fell out of the Top Ten and finished 13th eventually. Once again, Kokslien was the fastest athlete, the top time being 23:24.3. With this, Kokslien started from rank 10 and finished with his second national gold in as many days. Jørgen Graabak made it a double silver finish, this time 1.2 seconds behind Kokslien and with exactly the same cross-country time as bronze medallist Jan Schmid. Schmid had started six seconds after Graabak from rank eleven and missed those six second to gain silver.