Bjørgen sets gold standard in Toblach
Triple Olympic cross-country champion Marit Bjørgen sent a warning to her rivals with a double success in Toblach (ITA) over the weekend.
Having secured a smooth victory in the 10km cross-country classical race on Saturday, the Norwegian won a closer 1.3km sprint event the following day to underline that she will not be giving up any of her three Olympic titles without a fight.
Bjørgen won the 10km event by a commanding 36.7 seconds from compatriot Therese Johaug, before edging Denise Herrmann (GER) by just 0.42 seconds in the sprint. There was further joy for Norway in the latter event, with Ingvild Flugstad Østberg finishing third.
“I was able to get myself into good position off the downhill in the final to be able to get the win today,” said Bjørgen after her sprint victory.
The 33-year-old travels to Sochi aiming to emulate her five-star performance at Vancouver 2010, when she won gold medals in the sprint, pursuit and relay, silver in the 30km and bronze in the 10km event.
Hansdotter claims first World Cup win
Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter warmed up for Sochi by securing her first-ever win in a World Cup race on Sunday, taking the slalom honours in Kranjska Gora (SLO). Hansdotter, a runner-up on eight previous occasions, went one better after seeing off the challenges of talented Austrian sisters Marlies and Bernadette Schild.
Trailing world number one Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) after the first run, Hansdotter produced a fine second run to lead Marlies Schild by 0.05 seconds and younger sibling Bernadette by 0.15 seconds. Shiffrin had to be content with seventh place after an error in the upper part of her second outing.
Reflecting on her maiden victory, Hansdotter said that she had been confident that the breakthrough would eventually arrive.
“I did my best and it feels really good to have my first victory,” she said. “I have always been really happy about my second places. I knew I could ski really fast and my day would come.”
Hansdotter enters the Olympic Winter Games in second place on the slalom leaderboard, 80 points behind Shiffrin. Marlies and Bernadette Schild sit third and seventh respectively. The overall World Cup chart is still topped by Germany’s Maria Höfl-Riesch, who finished 23rd in Sunday’s race.
Takanashi caps stunning week with tenth win
Japan’s Sara Takanashi put the seal on a superb week by making it 10 wins from 13 events this season in Hinzenbach (AUT).
The 17 year-old ski jumper, who won a record third consecutive gold at the Junior World Ski Championships just five days earlier, stepped back up to senior level with aplomb on Sunday – scoring 245.2 points to finish 6.8 points ahead of home hope Daniela Iraschko-Stolz. Finland’s Julia Kykkänen finished third for her first podium of the season.
Takanashi, who can make sure of this season’s overall World Cup title with a win in Rasnov (ROU) when the competition resumes in March, will travel to Sochi as hot favourite for the women’s Olympic ski-jumping gold.