So far, the developments in the young season 2019/20 showed fans of the Nordic Combined sport that the Norwegian team is ready to "go for gold" and that last year’s dominator Jarl Magnus Riiber might be well on the way to dominate this season, too. This is nothing short of impressive, both from Riiber and also from the Norwegian team. New head coach Peder Sandell and his team celebrated a perfect start to the winter.
While Riiber’s performance would definitely have more than justified the “Athlete of the Week” title this week, we have decided to highlight another Norwegian athlete, whose performances were maybe even more impressive, given starting point from which 19-year-old Jens Lurås Oftebro began before this season.
Oftebro made his first appearance in an international Nordic Combined event in the FIS Youth Cup in Trondheim in 2016 and followed in his older brother Einar’s footsteps as a Nordic Combined athlete. He debuted in the World Cup in Oslo only in March 2018 but instantly scored World Cup points. In the following season, Oftebro split his time between the World and Continental Cup and was one of the athletes to watch during the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in Lahti (FIN). He won bronze in the 5 km event but missed the podium in the longer version of the Individual Gundersen event.
He closed the season 2018/19 in a strong fashion with a sixth place in the World Cup in Oslo, one year after his World Cup debut but nobody could have predicted the way he started the season 2019/20: like team leader Jarl Magnus Riiber, Oftebro reached the podium in Ruka every single day. What is impressive for any Nordic Combined athlete is maybe even more impressive for a 19-year-old, who has never completed a full World Cup season so far.
With a strong jumping performance, the shorter 5 km race seemed to be a good chance for Oftebro to claim his first podium but he also did not falter in the two 10 km race on the following days. What was even more astonishing was the fearlessness with which he matched the attacks two of the strongest cross-country skiers in the field, Vinzenz Geiger and Jørgen Graabak, on the difficult track in Ruka. The results: two close finish line sprints. Even though Oftebro lost both of them (for now), the future for this next Norwegian shooting star seems bright.
Three back-to-back podiums and the second place in the Ruka tour standings are certainly not the worst way to start your first full World Cup season. Congrats to our Athlete of the Week: Jens Lurås Oftebro.