Results Rundown (with full video): Kristine Skistad, Even Northug Take Beitostølen Classic Sprints


The third weekend in November has traditionally brought an unofficial preview for the start of the upcoming World Cup season, as Norwegian national team athletes test out their fitness in a race setting and athletes on the bubble try to race their way into start rights for the World Cup opener the following week.

This year was no exception, as Kristine Stavås Skistad and Even Northug won classic sprints earlier Friday over deep fields in the Beitostølen season opener. The three-race weekend in Beitostølen marks the opener of the Norwegian Cup domestic race circuit (like the SuperTour in this country, but with more multi-story wax trucks).

Read on for more, and for full video of both finals.

Women’s classic sprint: Kristine Stavås Skistad edges out Lotta Udnes Weng

Kristine Stavås Skistad, front, outlunges Lotta Udnes Weng to win the Beitostølen classic sprint, Nov. 18, 2022. (photo: NRK screenshot)

Kristine Stavås Skistad, currently 23 years old, won the classic sprint at World Juniors in Lahti in 2019, in her final year of eligibility. Fast forward through a few years’ worth of U23 development and her results on the World Cup in the 2021/2022 season were somewhat intermittent; she was 16th in the Lillehammer skate sprint, 48th in qualifying in the Davos skate sprint, and 4th in the final in the Dresden skate sprint on three successive weekends in Period 1. She was 18th in the one World Cup classic sprint she contested last season, in Drammen in early March, in a race with no Russian women but a full field otherwise.

Eight months later, Skistad was firing on all cylinders in the Norwegian Cup women’s 1.3-kilometer classic sprint in Beitostølen earlier Friday. She won the qualifier, in 2:53.15, over teammates Ane Appelkvist Stenseth (+1.07) and Maria Hartz Melling (+1.41). (Everyone in this article is Norwegian unless otherwise noted.) She eventually won the final, too, but it was a heck of a lot closer, and she had to work for it.

Yeah we have embedded video of the final. (Maybe don’t get used to this if broadcast rights change for the World Cup season, and/or if this video gets taken down soon.)

Six women lined up for the final, representing the top six bibs from qualifying: Skistad in bib no. 1, Stenseth in bib 2, Melling in bib 3, Tiril Udnes Weng in bib 4, her sister Lotta Udnes Weng in bib 5, and Hedda Østberg Amundsen in bib 6.

Skistad led the field into the first turn and onto the downhill out of the stadium. She was still in first by the bottom of the first of two climbs on the sprint course, slightly over a minute into the race.

Kristine Stavås Skistad (bib 1, second from right) is in fifth position approaching the final climb, Beitostølen classic sprint, Nov. 18, 2022. (photo: NRK screenshot)

At this point Lotta Weng put in a massive surge. She moved to the front of the pack and charged up the hill, opening a meaningful lead. Skistad had fallen back to fifth by the top of the climb, several meters off the lead; she closed the gap somewhat on the ensuing downhill, but was still far closer to last than to first by the base of the climb as Lotta Weng charged up the course’s deciding uphill.

Much of the second climb occurred out of view of the TV broadcast, but to put it mildly, Skistad made up some ground on this climb. She was second over the top as the field crested a small rise and dropped back down into the stadium, but was still well over a ski length back of Lotta Weng as they began to doublepole toward the finish.

Kristine Stavås Skistad, left, trails Lotta Udnes Weng by several ski lengths on the brief descent into the stadium, Beitostølen classic sprint, Nov. 18, 2022. This is like 200 meters before the finish at most. (photo: NRK screenshot)

The stadium at Beitostølen is not large, but Skistad made the most of this limited real estate. She used a furious doublepole to close much of the gap, then a well-timed lunge to make up the rest, prevailing over Lotta Weng by a fraction of a second. Skistad did not lead from roughly meter 600 through meter 1,322 of the race, but fortunately for her the Beitostølen sprint course is 1,323 meters long. And it appears that Skistad has longer legs than Lotta Weng.

The other Weng in the final, Tiril Udnes Weng, was third, 1.55 seconds back. Melling (+1.90), Amundsen (+2.60), and Stenseth (+3.51) made up the rest of the top six. Time gaps are unofficial, and are taken from the splits shown on the broadcast (official FIS results with times have not been codified as of this writing).

The sole American in the field, SMS skier Alayna Sonnesyn, was 32nd in qualifying, 0.84 seconds out of the heats. There were four non-Norwegian athletes in the heats, led by Kateřina Janatová of the Czech Republic in 11th.

Results: qual | final

Even Northug talks with the media after winning Beitostølen classic sprint, Nov. 18, 2022. (photo: NRK screenshot)

Men’s classic sprint: Even Northug dominates

Even Northug, named to the Norwegian national team for the first time this season, gave notice that this status was deserved when he won a classic sprint qual in Muonio last weekend by a staggering 2.41 seconds over teammate Sivert Wiig, en route to winning the final.

Friday in Beitostølen brought more of the same, as Northug set the pace in qualifying in a speedy 2:31.64 over the 1.3km course. Wiig was once more second, though this time the gap was down to 1.33 seconds.

Reflecting the depth of Norwegian men’s sprinting, 30th place in qualifying was just 7.27 seconds back of Northug, a tighter margin than in many World Cups (though keep in mind that World Cup sprint courses often take 30 to 60 seconds longer to complete). Everyone in the top 30 was Norwegian.

Northug chose heat no. 1 in the quarterfinals, and won that heat. Northug was in heat no. 1 in the semifinals, and won that heat. He lined up in bib no. 1 for the final, and ultimately led nearly wire-to-wire en route to the convincing win.

Full video of men’s final.

The final for the men’s 1.3-kilometer classic sprint saw Northug (bib no. 1), Wiig (bib 2), Håvard Solås Taugbøl (bib 3), Simen Bratberg Ramstad (bib 6), Sindre Bjørnestad Skar (bib 14), and Lars Agner Hjelmeset (bib 15; yes, he’s Odd-Bjørn Hjelmeset’s son) take the line. Northug led the field out of the stadium and into the course’s longest downhill. He was leading by a half a ski length at the start of the first climb, and by roughly two ski lengths at its top.

Even Northug leads the charge up the final climb, Beitostølen classic sprint, Nov. 18, 2022. (photo: NRK screenshot)

The field came back to Northug down the course’s second and final downhill, but he once more simply ran away from the other five men up the second climb. He entered the stadium well clear of Taugbøl in second and Skar in third. He had enough space to stand up and celebrate across the line for his second win in a high-level classic sprint in as many weekends, looking relatively fresh and exchanging post-finish fist bumps with his competitors even as Skar collapsed over his poles. 

The season-opening race in Ruka, a week from today, is also a classic sprint. One Johannes Høsflot Klæbo was not in the field in Beitostølen today, perhaps continuing to nurse a sore back, but the entire rest of the Norwegian men’s sprint armada was competing. 

Northug’s winning time was 2:30.91, according to unofficial results, with Taugbøl 0.93 seconds back and Skar 1.21 seconds behind him.

Results: qual | final (live timing unofficial results / final results will be posted here when available, probably soon after this article goes up)

What’s next

Looking ahead, Saturday brings a 10km interval-start classic race for both men and women, followed by a 10km interval-start skate race on Sunday. Zak Ketterson (USST/Team Birkie) wrote on his blog that he plans to contest both distance races. Alayna Sonnesyn (SMS) is also in Beitostølen preparing for World Cup Period 1 races; as noted, she raced the classic sprint earlier today. That said, Sonnesyn is not currently listed on the FIS live start list for tomorrow’s classic race.

Update: Ketterson will be starting in bib no. 138 on Saturday, 12:39 p.m. local time (5:39 a.m. Central Time), according to the start list. The women’s race starts at 10:02 a.m. local time Saturday morning.

Full video, including all heats

Finally, I am thrilled, and surprised, to report that a full re-broadcast of today’s races is available here from Norwegian national broadcaster NRK. (The finals occurred at roughly 3 a.m. local time for me, so I can’t speak to whether or not you needed a VPN to watch them live.) You can view this in your browser, direct from the U.S., no VPN required. The women’s final starts at the 1:26 mark of this broadcast, and the men’s final at 1:40.

One Therese Johaug, far left, makes her broadcasting debut for NRK Sport, in Beitostølen earlier today. (photo: screenshot from NRK)

Sadly, you should not plan on NRK broadcasts being this technologically available during the imminent World Cup season, though I would be thrilled to be proven wrong on this. A preview article on this site, next week, will walk through your viewing options from this country for World Cup skiing and IBU biathlon races, including both official paid streaming options and less official VPN options.

— Gavin Kentch

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