Thursday, December 9

For some, this was the most important ski race of the year: – It was not the way I had imagined it

BEITOSTØLEN ( Didrik Tønseth was disappointed, Håvard Moseby and Ragnhild Haga smiled. The season opener is this year’s most important competition for many cross-country skiers.

Didrik Tønseth on his way out of the stadium with his assistant Einar Moxnes after what he previously called “perhaps the most important race of the season”. It ended in a brutal downturn.

– It is one of the more important ski runs I may go, said Didrik Tønseth ahead of the season’s first competition. For him and a number of other Norwegian athletes, it was about how the rest of the season should be.

For Tønseth, it was a downturn. He was wrecked from the national team this spring. He has nevertheless bet as before and has run his own scheme in parallel with the national team. During periods in the pre-season, he has “bought in” to the national team’s gatherings.

The goal has been an Olympic venue. But then it had to vote in the first attempt. It was one big downturn. The dream of opening the World Cup in Ruka was over. It is not certain that he will be allowed to go on a national quota when the World Cup comes to Lillehammer.

– I’m damn disappointed. It was not the way I had imagined it, and this was not an application to come to the Olympics. But I do not give up here and now, he said afterwards.

Emil Iversen was second behind Hans Christer Holund. His judgment of his comrade’s performance was relatively merciless.

– Now he is not allowed to go to Ruka. It may have been the Olympic venue that smoked there, Iversen said.


Cross-country skiing on Beitostølen can be brutal and merciless. Dreams are shattered and hope is ignited in half an hour. The national opening is about convincing the five who will take out teams that they are good enough. Good enough for the World Cup and good enough to fight for a place on the Olympic team.

In advance, it was clear that a lot would have to happen for someone outside the national teams to be able to join the team for the World Cup opening in Ruka next weekend. There is a free space in the sprint and a free space at a distance in the opening. The sprinters Johannes Høsflot Klæbo, Erik Valnes, Håvard Solås Taugbøl, Emil Iversen and Pål Golberg have been pre-selected. There is a free place for the girls as well.

On the men’s side, this means that runners on elite national teams such as Sjur Røthe, Harald Østberg Amundsen, Martin Løwstrøm Nyenget and Sindre Bjørnestad Skar have not received a clear signal.

At a distance, five men are also ready. Johannes Høsflot Klæbo, Emil Iversen, Pål Golberg, Hans Christer Holund and Simen Hegstad Krüger.

On the women’s side, the entire national team has been taken out to Ruka.

Difficult withdrawals

Thus, the opening for runners outside the national team is very narrow. But there were many who came to Beitostølen with a hope and a desire to make even more curl in the withdrawal cabals of cross-country manager Espen Bjervig and his coaches.

A quick round of the result lists after the season opener shows that it can still be very far ahead for many of the challengers. At the same time, others signed up.

Didrik Tønseth: Went out of the discussion about a place for the World Cup opening. Thus, there are fewer chances to show that he is a man who may be relevant among the eight who are going to the Beijing Olympics.

Harald Østberg Amundsen: Was not taken out to the World Cup opening. His seventh place may have been too bad. But he is strongest in freestyle and Sunday’s race will decide whether he joins Ruka.

Håvard Moseby: There are always some new ones who sign up for the withdrawal discussion in a season opener. Moseby, who suffered a fatigue fracture in his lower back in July, has trained alternatively for long periods. At Beitostølen he was back and showed with his third place that he is in the battle for the World Cup already next weekend. Afterwards, he shone, but did not dare to dream of either a World Cup or an Olympic place. Moseby belongs to the recruiting national team.

Vebjørn Turtveit: He finished fifth. It will probably not compete for the last place for Ruka, but he will get an opportunity to participate in the national quota in the World Cup in Lillehammer the first weekend in December.

Martin Løwstrøm Nyenso: Became number 10 and probably walked out of the battle for the World Cup in Finland.

Sjur Røthe: Had a bad day at work and broke. Not going to Finland, but he has time and is patient with a view to finding form good enough to be taken out to the Olympics.

Ragnhild Haga: Although she was rejected from the elite national team after last season, the 30-year-old has not given up. She bets outside the national team. Fifth place at Beitostølen on a classic distance was almost in excess. She has strengthened her chances of going to the World Cup and thus get an opportunity to qualify for the Olympics. But Sunday decides. Then it is 10 kilometers freestyle.

Silje Theodorsen: The 27-year-old from Tromsø impressed and was third best in the opening race. She has a habit of running strong races at Beitostølen, but her experience in the World Cup is limited. Theodorsen has to impress more than this one time for opportunities to open up.

Kathrine Rolsted Harsem: She has turned 32 years old and still has ambitions to perform at the very highest level. Only a 12th place in the opening race probably means that she is not on the withdrawal radar of Ole Morten Iversen & co.

Astrid Øyre Slind: She focuses on cross-country skiing, but loves cross-country skiing. Therefore, she was a biathlete last weekend and a cross-country skier this weekend. Despite a strong seventh place in the opening, she is probably not among those who are relevant for the World Cup or the Olympics yet.

PS: Therese Johaug won the season opener ahead of Heidi Weng and Silje Theodorsen.

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