Race: Men’s 10-kilometer interval-start classic race, Beitostølen, Norway
Is there embedded video you can watch? Sort of. Here is a six-minute highlight video from the men’s race:
Beyond that, as I wrote yesterday: Ski & Snowboard Live would be happy to take your money for a subscription if you would like to watch the full race. Alternatively, you can use a VPN (instructions here) to watch a full re-broadcast on Norwegian station NRK (broadcast link here, not available outside of Norway).
What happened at the front of the race? Rather inhospitable racing conditions happened. Also, Pål Golberg won again, and is clearly on superb form to start this season.
As for the weather: The women raced first today, with the first starter going out at 10 a.m. local time; equality has come to the race distances this year, but the women are still getting the first race each day, with the more desirable, later TV time slot going to the men. According to the official results, the air temp for the women’s race was –18.1 C. By the start of the men’s race, at 12:15 p.m., the official air temp had climbed to a balmy –17.8 C.
But it had also begun snowing. While the women’s race was marked by clear and cold conditions and gorgeous lighting, the men’s race just looked rough. Athletes skied through the snow beneath dull, scumbled skies, enshrouded in buffs and sunglasses. Climate change is clearly real, and its effects concerning, but for today, it looked like winter out there.
On a day with many trappings of tradition — classic race, Norway, interval start — it was, well, a Norwegian man who won, for the seventh time in eight races this season. Pål Golberg, rebounding from an “off” day yesterday in which he was tripped up midway through the sprint final and still came back to finish fourth, set the day’s fastest time of 23:55.6 to take the win. He was followed by Didrik Tønseth, also of Norway, in second (+7.6), and Andrew Musgrave, of Scotland, in third (+10.3).
(To be fair, the British skier on the podium is somewhat less traditional. It is Musgrave’s first World Cup podium in five years. He currently sits a healthy sixth in the World Cup overall standings.)
In eight races so far this season, Golberg’s worst finish is sixth, in a tight race where he was 20 seconds off the win over 10 kilometers. He has made all three sprint finals, and has finished first, first, second, second, and sixth in the season’s five distance races. He is currently leading the men’s overall standings by more than 300 points, and will be wearing the yellow leader’s bib when the Tour de Ski starts (if he races it) even if he sits out all three races still to be contested before then. The 32-year-old skier from Gol, Norway, who came into the season with six World Cup wins but no individual medals from a global championship — he didn’t even make the Norwegian World Champs team from 2015 through 2019 — is having a breakout year.
What happened for the Americans: Hunter Wonders happened. The 24-year-old from Anchorage is no stranger to the World Cup stage; he had seven starts in the 2020/2021 season, five starts last season, and five starts (so far) this season.
Wonders’s race finishes to date have been, and I mean this in the nicest way possible, consistent with a development curve of gradual progress in the world’s hardest sport. His best finish in the 2020/2021 season was 36th, with other finishes in the 40s, 50s, or 60s; in 2021/2022, his best finish was 45th, with other distance marks of 63rd, 67th, and 70th. So far this year: 45th, 39th, 31st, and 30th, clearly far stronger than last year but not necessarily standing out on a strong American team.
Today: blam, 16th. Wonders had a scorching start, notching the day’s second-fastest time through the first time checkpoint at 1.3km. By 2.6 kilometers, his intermediate split was 14th… but he never really slowed down from there. By halfway, he was up to 13th. By 6.3km, he was up to 12th, and was still in 12th at 8.2km into the race. The torrid pace likely caught up to him a little down the final hill and back up to the stadium, as he was 16th at the finish — but he was also only 6.7 seconds out of 12th, and 10.1 seconds out of the top 10. By any measure, it was a career day for Wonders.
Behind him, but not too far behind, Ben Ogden was 19th (+41.5). Gus Schumacher was 30th (+58.6). Scott Patterson was 33rd (+1:01.8). Zak Ketterson was 38th (+1:12.3).
What do the Americans think about their day? A superb question. Here are some answers for you.
Here’s what Hunter Wonders told USSS for their race writeup:
“I’m super stoked about the race! I planned on taking it out fast and trying not to blow up and it worked out today. There’s definitely something to learn going from racing 15k to 10k, too. It was cold out there but it helps to know that eventually, I’ll warm up! It’s great to feel like I’m in the fight this season and I’m excited for the rest.”
Wonders added, on his Instagram story screenshotted above: “Still a little in shock!”
Here’s Ben Ogden, in a text message to Nordic Insights, when asked what had changed for his classic skiing from earlier in the season to now:
“It’s hard to say exactly what is starting to change with my distance shape but I do think that just being on skis and going through the motions a few times helps a lot. Today I had really good skis and I think that is due largely to having slippery skis a few times and reminding myself how to test and give useful feedback to my techs for distance racing. Also just racing and remembering to be relaxed and not frantic is so huge in figuring out these races.
“Today is a step in the right direction and I am very happy with the outcome but always hungry to learn and approach the next one even smarter and stronger.”
Here’s Scott Patterson, via email to Nordic Insights:
“I think my race fitness is coming around bit by bit. I had a relatively slow start today and was feeling pretty marginal on the first lap, but got my head in the game a bit for the second lap. I wanted more, but I see some positive signs. It’s still period 1 and only week three. I’m moving in the right direction though a little slower than I want at times. As for the cold, it was manageable. I came ready for it and didn’t have any issues during the race. The more surprising factor for the men’s race was the sudden shift to really flat lighting as clouds rolled over the sun just before the start.”
And here’s Gus Schumacher, via text message to Nordic Insights:
“The classic wasn’t feeling that great honestly. Probably better than Ruka because I’m a little more raced by now, and know I need to start harder. Still not really finding that ability to push redline. Not the best, but not the worst, so I’m alright with it.”
Bonus take: Here’s Zach Caldwell, a man who knows something about ski prep, with his thoughts on the Americans’ skis today:
What’s next: Tomorrow is relay day (!). Here are the starters for the two American teams, per today’s update email from USSS:
Julia Kern, Hunter Wonders, Sophia Laukli, Ben Ogden
Alayna Sonnesyn, Zak Ketterson, Novie McCabe, Gus Schumacher
— Gavin Kentch
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