Therese Johaug wins skiathlon in Oberstdorf

Therese Johaug (NOR, Fischer ***) won the only test of the long-distance tracks of the 2021 World Championships. The Norwegian triumphed in the skiathlon ahead of Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR, Fischer ***), Teresa Stadlober (AUT, Fischer) made it onto the podium. Alexander Bolshunov (RUS) won the men's skiathlon.

It took an unusually long time for Therese Johaug to take the decisive lead on the newly created, very technical tracks with an extended Burgstall climb and a difficult switchback descent. The Norwegian came with a lead of just 14 seconds to ski change and lost three seconds due to problems with the bindings to Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN), who initially did the speed work ahead of her compatriot Kerttu Niskanen (FIN, Fischer ***). Now Johaug began to visibly increase her lead on the first lap of skating, but it was not more than 23 seconds in the entire race despite the difficult and about two-minute Burgstall climb. Nevertheless, the Norwegian added another win to her record list, followed by a trio that ultimately fought for the podium. At the time of the ski change, the group consisted of eight athletes, but gradually some athletes had to pay tribute to the difficult track. When the last time it went up the Burgstall, the chasing group was destroyed. Under the leadership of Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, who was already strong on the classic laps and tried to follow Johaug single-handedly, a trio went into the winding descent: Only Ebba Andersson (SWE, Fischer ***) and Teresa Stadlober could still follow the Norwegian, who attacked on the last climb, but couldn't break away. The decision had to be made on the long home stretch, and the Norwegian, as the strongest sprinter, came in second as expected. At the beginning of the finish corridors, Ebba Andersson looked over her shoulder at the Austrian woman skiing behind her, but had nothing to counter the subsequent attack by Teresa Stadlober, who secured third place. For the Saalfelden native, it was the second podium of her career - apart from a second place at Alpe Cermis two years ago. Natalia Nepryaeva (RUS, Fischer ***) finished sixth ahead of Heidi Weng (NOR, Fischer ***). Eighth place went to Kerttu Niskanen, who could not keep up with the pace on the last lap. Katharina Hennig (GER, Fischer ***) had completely dead legs, but still finished tenth.

= > 7,5+7,5km Skiathlon Oberstdorf (GER)

For the men there were eight extremely hard 3.8 kilometer laps where they had enough opportunity to memorize the World Championship track, as Sebastian Eisenlauer said before the race. Surprisingly, the race initially developed into a knockout race. Iivo Niskanen (FIN, Fischer ***) tried to pull away from the field at the Burgstall of the second lap and skied one lap in front of the field, partly together with Bolshunov, until both were caught up again. In the meantime, the pace was very high, so that after three laps, only nine racers were in the top group, and only six when changing skis: four Norwegians and two Russians. In the second lap, the pace was significantly reduced, so that over the next few kilometers, many athletes caught up and 14 athletes entered the last lap together. Iivo Niskanen led the field into the Burgstall for the last time, until then Alexander Bolshunov attacked with Hans Christer Holund (NOR, Fischer ***) at his side. The group had now reduced to seven athletes when Holund led the group down into the slope. With a better curve technique in the switchbacks, the Russian secured the leading position again and attacked in the last climb. After the hairpin, Simen Hegstad Krüger (NOR) and Sjur Røthe (NOR) lost the slipstream to him so that they could no longer catch up with him on the 140-meter home stretch. Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR, Fischer ***), whose back pain is apparently under control after the long break from competition, finished fourth. Hans Christer Holund crossed the line in fifth ahead of Andrey Larkov (RUS, Fischer ***) and Dario Cologna (SUI, Fischer ***). Iivo Niskanen lost the connection in the final Burgstall and finished eighth.

= > 15+15km Skiathlon Oberstdorf (GER)