Klæbo Back, but Pål Golberg, Iivo Niskanen, Jules Chappaz, Ebba Andersson, and Most of Swedish Women’s Sprint Team Out for Davos


“Covid’s a thing,” as Devon Kershaw noted in an early-December episode of the Devon Kershaw Show. “Covid is most definitely a thing in Europe right now.” And even as athletes contend with the fourth consecutive World Cup season impacted by the pandemic, people still get old-fashioned colds in winter, too. Here’s a non-definitive roundup of some athletes who are, or are not, expected to be racing in Davos this weekend, which brings a skate sprint tomorrow and a 20-kilometer interval-start skate race on Sunday.

Klæbo: Healthy again, racing

Johannes Høsflot Klæbo of Norway is on the start list for tomorrow. He is reported to be healthy and ready to compete again. While Klæbo is obviously a supremely talented athlete who knows how to win races in a wide range of venues, it still bears noting that he has never lost this race. Klæbo has competed in four World Cup sprints in Davos, in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2021. He has won all four of them.

If you set the FIS results database to Davos and zoom out the events search parameter from just sprints to “all events,” then Klæbo’s record in Davos becomes besmirched by a single second-place finish, behind Simen Hegstad Krüger in last year’s 15km skate. Totally unimpressive.

If you’ll humor the low-key, lo-res digital forensics, this seems to be Klæbo (pink poles, black hat; name on bib is pretty blurry but probably says “Klæbo”) on course at the far right of the first photo in this recent post from APU, which has multiple athletes competing in Davos this weekend:

And, unlike Pellegrino, Klæbo is clearly on site in Davos this weekend, as witness this post from Norwegian journalist Anders Skjerdingstad from earlier today.

Golberg: Not healthy, not racing

Following Norwegian athlete Pål Golberg’s win in the 10km classic in Beitostølen last Saturday, I noted that his lead in the World Cup standings was such that he “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.”

This proved unfortunately prescient, as Golberg was one of many stars to sit out Sunday’s relay, and then caught a cold.

“Unfortunately, Pål Golberg has caught a cold (not Covid) and is therefore not competing during the World Cup in Davos this weekend,” the Norwegian Ski Association said in a press release.

While Klæbo previously announced that he was no longer going to pursue the World Cup overall title this season, a strong weekend for Klæbo in Davos, coupled with Golberg’s absence, could bring Klæbo back up to within roughly 100 points of the overall lead.

Pellegrino: Unclear, but probably not racing

On the one hand, Federico Pellegrino is listed on the start list for tomorrow’s sprint. On the other hand, his wife, fellow Italian skier Greta Laurent, looked like this yesterday:

And on the third hand, Pellegrino did a double session on skis today, per his Strava account, near the couple’s home in the Aosta Valley in northwestern Italy. The second of these wrapped up at 5 p.m. local time this afternoon. Pellegrino and Laurent live roughly a 400-kilometer, five-hour drive from Davos. So while he is on the start list, and at least one fantasy XC site has him available to start, my personal conclusion is that he is unlikely to be racing in Davos tomorrow.

Håvard Solås Taugbøl: Not racing

Sticking with male sprinters for one more entry, Norwegian sprint star Håvard Solås Taugbøl will not be racing in Davos after sustaining a strain in his left groin or thigh area while competing in the Beitostølen sprint heats, according to online reports.

Iivo Niskanen: Back on skis, but not racing

Finnish distance skier Iivo Niskanen is back on skis after getting Covid just before the start of this World Cup season (also: after the birth of his son), but is not racing this weekend.

Maurice Manificat, Théo Schely, and Jules Chappaz: sick, not racing

photo: screenshot from @jules.chappaz Instagram story

A not-insignificant portion of the French men’s team is not racing this weekend, according to French outlet Nordic Magazine. Maurice Manificat got sick with this week with bronchitis, and is unable to race. Chappaz is, well, sick (malade, as he wrote in an Instagram story earlier today), and will now turn his attention to preparations for the Tour de Ski. “La saison est longue” (the season is long), Chappaz noted.

Ebba Andersson: Seemingly over Covid, but not racing

Ebba Andersson of Sweden tested positive for Covid earlier this month, and withdrew from the races in Beitostølen. Yesterday she posted to Instagram that she was “Healthy and well again” and going to move forward “step by step,” according to an auto-translation of her Instagram caption.

In an auto-translated Expressen article yesterday, the Swedish national team women’s coach, Stefan Thomson, noted, “The good thing is that Ebba is up and running and training a bit lightly again and it seems to be working well.” He also said that Andersson would sit out not only the Davos World Cup weekend but also the entire Tour de Ski, with a tentative return to high-level racing set for roughly mid-January.

“We will not rush anything. It is important to make the right decision in order not to affect anything negatively on the way to” World Championships said Thomson, according to an auto-translation.

Maja Dahlqvist: Has a cold, not racing

Earlier today, the Swedish national team announced that sprint star Maja Dahlqvist will sit out both races this weekend, in an attempt to ensure that mild cold symptoms do not worsen into something more severe.

“Maja Dahlqvist has mild cold symptoms and we therefore made the decision to cancel this weekend’s competitions. It is a precautionary measure not to compete tomorrow in order to hopefully prevent – ​​or at least shorten and mitigate a possible infection,” Swedish national team doctor Rickard Noberius said in a press release.

Linn Svahn and Jonna Sundling: Working back to health; racing, but not in Davos

Continuing to survey Swedish women sprint stars: Linn Svahn missed nearly two years’ worth of racing following a shoulder injury that ultimately required surgery. She competed in a high-level domestic sprint in Idre, Sweden, last weekend, winning easily. She was offered start rights for tomorrow’s sprint race in Davos, but turned them down, choosing instead to compete domestically in a Scandinavian Cup race in Östersund.

“Östersund was a better fit right now. Then a new training period awaits to be prepared for new selection races after the New Year. The goal is, of course, to qualify for the [World Championships],” Svahn’s coach, Ola Ravald, told Expressen earlier this week.

Svahn will be joined in Östersund by Jonna Sundling, who had to take a solid month-plus off from training due to getting a serious cold.

“It was an ordinary cold virus, or perhaps you shouldn’t say ordinary,” Sundling told Expressen, according to an auto-translation. “I was ill for quite some time. But a cold virus, I actually had fairly mild symptoms, I wasn’t completely bedridden with a fever. But cough and congestion in the sinuses.”

Emma Ribom: Getting over a mild cold, not racing

The Swedish women sprinters have had a rough few weeks of it. Emma Ribom posted earlier today that she is “healthy and out skiing today,” according to an auto-translation of her Instagram caption. She will also not be racing in Davos.

— Gavin Kentch

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