Jr WSC Skiathlon wins for Johansen NOR & Vechkanov RUS

SOLDIER HOLLOW, UT (Feb. 3, 2017) - Norway’s Marte Maehlum Johansen came from behind in the final half of the freestyle leg of the skiathlon, to take gold at the 2017 USANA FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships at Soldier Hollow. 

Russia’s Vladislav Vechkanov picked up his second gold medal, winning the men’s 10k/10k skiathlon Friday at the USANA FIS Nordic Junior World Championships at Soldier Hollow. Thomas Helland Larsen and Harald Westberg Amundsen of Norway were silver and bronze.

Swede’s Ebba Andersson took her third medal of the championships, finishing second, while American Katharine Ogden (Landgrove, VT) of Stratton Mountain School won the first medal ever for a U.S. cross country skier at Junior Worlds with bronze.

I’m so happy,” Johansen said. “My shape was good and I felt strong almost all the way. I just had to go all the way.”

Andersson, who had already claimed two gold medals earlier in the week, took the lead in the classic legs and held it into the exchange. Johansen, who took silver behind Andersson two days earlier in the 5k freestyle, bided her time waiting for the right moment to attack. Ogden, who was running fourth at the exchange, quickly moved up with Andersson and Johansen with the three of them playing cat and mouse on the rolling trails of Soldier Hollow.

“Historically I’m a little bit stronger of a skater, so my strategy was mostly just to hang on for dear life in the classic so I could put myself in a good position for the skate,” Ogden said.

As the three of them approached a short, steep climb just before the downhill into the stadium on the first skating leg, Johansen made a move to take the lead, extending it in the final 2.5 kilometers. Ogden, meanwhile, maintained strong contact with the leaders to easily hold off Italy’s Anna Comarella, who was fourth.

Johansen covered the 10k course in 27 minutes, 17.3 seconds. Andersson was 6.6 seconds back with Ogden 10.4 seconds behind.

In the junior men's classic segment it was a battle between Norway and Russia, with Italy’s Simone Dapra also engaging the lead group. Russia’s Egor Kazarinov led at the equipment change with teammate Vechkanov close behind along with Amundsen also in the mix.

In the freestyle phase, Vechkanov hung back for a bit with Dapra taking the early lead before the Russian made his move and held the lead to the finish. Vechkanov also won the gold medal in the men’s 10k freestyle on Wednesday.

The Junior Worlds wrap up Sunday with relays.

ATHLETE QUOTES

Marte Maehlum Johansen
I’m so happy. My shape was good and I felt strong almost all the way. I just had to go all the way. Incredible. I can’t believe it. Amazing. It’s one of the most beautiful places I have skied ever. Yes. I’m very thankful for all the support I get from all the people, family and friends at home. I love you.

Ebba Andersson
Second place feels very good but now I am very tired. I love the courses here.They are amazing. Its very nice here, both the weather and the nature - it’s beautiful.

Katharine Ogden
It’s been my goal to medal here for the past two years. Everyday in training it’s kind of like something that I think about, it’s the little thing that helps me push myself. Even in the middle of June I’ll be like, ‘you know what I want to be? 

Vladislav Vechkanov
Two medals - it sounds unreal for me. When I did the first race in the sprint, I didn’t feel so well. So I had a bad feeling for this week. Actually, I didn’t have a real tactic other than to do my best to stay in the group. The course is tight with a lot of athletes on one course so I was worried about falling. I also tried to save the tempo - not maximum - to save energy. 

Thomas Helland Larsen
It’s just an amazing feeling. I was very satisfied early on but today was a really good day. I have to admit it was the hardest race of my life. The Russians are so strong and are always amazing in the skating portion. It was so hard but I managed to stay with them almost to the last hundred meters. 

Harald Oestberg Amundsen
It’s amazing. I didn’t expect a medal today. Today I felt really strong and on the skate I tried to go fast but I wasn’t strong enough on the finish but third place is really good.The course is very tough because of the altitude. Eight rounds on this course is really tough.

OFFICIAL RESULTS 

LADIES -  10 km Skiathlon

1. JOHANSEN Marte Maehlum 1997 NOR 27:17.3
2. ANDERSSON Ebba 1997 SWE +6.6
3. OGDEN Katharine 1997 USA +10.4
4. COMARELLA Anna 1997 ITA +51.6
5. PIIPPO Eveliina 1998 FIN +58.7

Ladies RESULTS

MEN - 20 km Skiathlon

1. VECHKANOV Vladislav 1997 RUS 49:40.5
2. LARSEN Thomas Helland 1998 NOR +1.9
3. AMUNDSEN Harald Oestberg 1998 NOR +2.2
4. KAZARINOV Egor 1997 RUS +9.4
5. DAPRA Simone 1997 ITA +30.7

Men RESULTS