Norwegian cross-country skiers (from left) silver Johannes Hösflot Klaebo, winner Simen Hegstad Krüger and bronze Paal Golberg at the finish line of the 2×15 km skiathlon at the World Championships in Planica, Slovenia, on February 24, 2023.
Planica (Slovenia) – Skiathlon at the World Championships in Planica was dominated by Norwegian cross-country skiers. Simen Hegstad Krüger won the 2×15 kilometer race, followed by Johannes Hösflot Klaebo, Sjur Röthe and Paal Golberg. Adam Fellner, the only Czech representative at the start, took 21st place.
The 29-year-old Krüger added the world title to his PyeongChang 2018 Olympic first in the discipline that combines classical and free technique and improved the silver from the last championship in Oberstdorf, where he was beaten only by the Russian Alexander Bolshunov. World Cup leader Klaebo won his first medal from a major event in the skiathlon in second place, on the other hand, Röthe already has a third valuable metal in this discipline and a second bronze – the 2019 champion from Seefeld was already third in 2013 in Val di Fiemme.< /p>
The Norwegians started to set the pace after the end of the classic section. On “skating” skis, Krüger and Röthe, five years older, were the first to form a leading pair, who gradually became unable to defend the silver medal and in the end lost to Klaeb as well. Against the twenty-six-year-old winner of Thursday's sprint, even a fifteen-second lead from the 23rd kilometer was not enough for him. Klaebo lost to Krüger by 12 seconds, leaving Röthe behind by two. Golberg reached the finish line in another half-minute, just ahead of Sweden's William Poromaa, but did not follow up on the silver medal from the sprint.
Krüger revealed that he and Röth had a plan to attack after exchanging skis and take advantage of the situation that their national team colleagues had in their legs Thursday sprints. “Yesterday we were talking in practice while the others were racing. We said that the most sensible thing would be to go all out on the first climb after changing skis. Johannes (Klaebo) is so good that if we gave him one easy lap, we wouldn't shake him,” he said Krüger to the Norwegian media.
But Klaeb was not surprised by the opponents' tactics. “Sjur has been fast after changing skis in all skiathlons so far, so nothing surprising. I'm happy with the silver, it was a tough race, brutal, a bit as expected,” said the five-time Olympic champion and seven-time world champion
Fellner arrived to the finish line with a loss of more than four minutes to the winner and recorded the best individual result at the WC. So far, the twenty-nine-year-old representative's best finish two years ago in Oberstdorf was 26th place in the skiathlon.
“Finally, the first race this year that really went 100 percent. I'm extremely satisfied,” Fellner rejoiced on the association's website. “Everything worked out, the skis worked excellently, which is the basis for such a result, and overall I felt very good on the track. I think the main difference was already made in the classic, where I was just behind the twentieth place. I am very happy that I also kept the 'skate' part in such a good position until the finish line,” he praised himself.
Men – skiathlon 2×15 km: 1. Krüger 1:09:40.3, 2. Klaebo -12.2, 3. Röthe -14.1, 4. Golberg (all Nor.) -45.9, 5. Poromaa -46.4, 6. Halfvarsson (both Swedes) -1:14.2, …21. Fellner (ČR) -4:11.3.
Women: 1. Westvold Hansen (Nor.) 14:27.1, 2. Armbruster (Germany) -11.5, 3. H. Kasai (Japan) -15.7, 4. Hagen (Nor.) -29.7, 5. J. Kasaiová (Japan) -51.7, 6. Sieffová (It.) -52.3, …30. Koldovská (ČR) -5:40.8.