RUKA / OSLO (VG) Therese Johaug (33) has become quite used to victory, but in the season’s first duel against Frida Karlsson (22), the Norwegian loner had to be beaten by Sweden’s shooting star.
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After an intense battle for seconds in the Finnish forests, Frida Karlsson won the star duel against Therese Johaug. Karlsson ran a phenomenal race, was in the lead at all seconds and won in the end with 13.7 seconds.
This was Karlsson’s second individual victory against Therese Johaug. The first came at three miles in Holmenkollen in 2020.
The two cross-country stars both charged up for the World Cup opening in Ruka by being superb last weekend: Johaug was superior at Beitostølen, while Karlsson won in Gällivare during the Swedes’ national cross-country opening.
Johaug, who was in a class of his own last season, came to this season’s first duel between them as the big favorite, but it became clear early on that Karlsson has trained well this winter.
For almost every passing point, she increased the hatch to Johaug who looked stiff on the buttocks. In the last 1.9 kilometers, she increased the lead by a full 8.1 seconds.
German Katharina Hennig took 3rd place.
It was seen as a disappointing Norwegian afternoon in Finland. Heidi Weng was Norway’s second best in 10th place, 55.7 seconds behind Karlsson.
It was gratifying, however, that Ingvild Flugstad Østberg was back on the ski track. The 31-year-old went on Saturday his first ski race since March 2020, and smiled broadly in the first meters from the start.
There are still more runners out and about. The supposed best are in the finish, and Flugstad Østberg is poised to end up in 33rd place, one minute and 52 seconds behind Karlsson.
The case is being updated.