Jarl Riiber wins first Mass Start in 10 years, extends tour lead
© NordicFocus

Norway's Jarl Magnus Riiber proved to be unbeatable, no matter in which order the Nordic Combined disciplines are tackled. The 21-year-old won the Mass Start in Lillehammer, with which the format made a return to World Cup after almost ten years. Riiber set his second World Cup victory in as many days and extended his Lillehammer Tour lead to 40 points. Eric Frenzel repeated the same feature on the second rank, Fabian Rießle raced and jumped to rank three.

As befitting his red bib of the "Best Skier" Magnus Krog set a clear win in the morning’s 10 km Mass Start race. Starting from the middle of the field, the Norwegian found the way to the top group fast and stayed with fellow fast skiers Magnus Moan, Alessandro Pittin, Vinzenz Geiger and Johannes Rydzek for most parts of the race.

Krog raced smartly, conserved energy in the leading group and and set his attack on the last lap. First, the top group of nine skiers was reduced to four and then the bearer of the red bib managed to open up a gap and shake off his closest pursuers Fabian Rießle, Eric Frenzel and Alessandro Pittin as well. World Cup leader Jarl Riiber, Jørgen Graabak and Magnus Moan fell back even further, finishing fifth, sixth and 17th.

In the end, Krog reached the finish line 6.1 seconds ahead of runner-up Fabian Rießle, which translated into 1.5 minus points for Rießle to make up on the jumping hill. Eric Frenzel started his jumping competition with -2.5 points. Alessandro Pittin and Jarl Riiber minimised the damage on ranks four and five and started their campaigns for a top spot in today's result list with -3.5 and -6.5 points. The other strong jumpers of the field, Akito Watabe, Mario Seidl and Franz-Josef Rehrl finished 9th (-7.8 p.), 14th (-15.3 p.) and 20th (-15 p.).

As the race determined the top 50 athletes who were eligible to start in the jumping part, some athletes had to sit the final round of the competition out. Among them were 2017 Summer Grand Prix winner Kristjan Ilves (EST), Russia’s Ernest Yahin and Austria’s Dominik Terzer. Edgar Vallet and Ben Loomis did not finish the race, same as Jan Vytrval and Jens Lurås Oftebro, who were involved in a crash that luckily ended with no major injuries for any of the involved athletes.

As yesterday, Jarl Riiber was in a league of his own on the jumping hill, setting the only jump of the day that hit the 100 m mark. With a point total of 131.8, Riiber finished the event 8.1 points ahead of Eric Frenzel, who repeated yesterday’s silver rank after a jump of 95 metres (123.7 points). Teammate Fabian Rießle made the jump onto the podium after landing a 93 metre effort. With 123.6 points, only 0.1 points that separated him from a shared silver position with Frenzel.

Last year’s World Cup winner Akito Watabe returned with a strong fourth place after his season start could be called less than ideal so far. 94.5 metres had him surging to the fourth position from rank nine after the cross-country race. Two points behind him in the final list, Johannes Rydzek also made progress from rank ten after the race to a final fifth position. He showed a good jump of 94 metres. Performances of 95 metres each had Japan’s Yoshito Watabe and Norwegian Espen Bjørnstad surging to a shared 13th position from ranks 26 and 25 after the race. They held 104.2 points each.

Final Results
Cross-Country Results
Lillehammer Tour Standings
Overall Standings