It’s been a long season, but it’s about to come to an end. World Cup racing opened in the farthest north reaches of Finland, four full months ago, with the Ruka Triple. Klæbo won every race for the men with seeming ease bordering on nonchalance, presaging much of the season to come. Emma Ribom of Sweden won her first World Cup, but not her last, and I used the phrase “Sweden Puts Two on Podium” in a headline for also not the last time, ushering in a season where the Swedish women were often unstoppable.
Four months and 29 (scored World Cup) races later, there’s not much drama remaining in the standings on the men’s side. Klæbo has led the overall standings since the close of the Tour de Ski in early January, and has already wrapped up his fourth overall crystal globe in the last six years, including his second in a row. He has also secured his sprint fifth globe. The distance globe is, mathematically speaking, still within reach for him with one distance race yet to come (Klæbo is 112 points back with 125 points remaining), but so long as Pål Golberg shows up on the start line on Sunday and skis to a fraction of his potential, Golberg will take a well-earned distance globe.
Golberg will be second in the overall World Cup standings, no matter what happens this weekend, and Federico Pellegrino third. The podium in the overall World Cup standings marks the emergence of the longtime Italian sprinter as a skilled generalist, mirroring the late-career distance chops of athletes such as Marit Bjørgen and Kikkan Randall. Pellegrino’s best finish in the World Cup distance standings coming into this season was 28th, last year. He is currently ranked a healthy 11th there, ahead of athletes like Harald Østberg Amundsen of Norway and a resurgent Calle Halfvarsson of Sweden.
Oh and by the way, Ben Ogden is currently eighth in the overall standings, and a resounding first in the green jersey/U23 standings, all of which collectively deserves more attention than I am giving it here.
(If you’ll permit one final note on Klæbo, the all-time record for overall World Cup titles is held by Bjørn Dæhlie, who retired with six. Gunde Svan and Yelena Välbe have five. Dario Cologna, Justyna Kowalczyk, Bente Skari, and Marit Bjørgen all have four. Klæbo is already amidst some august company here with his four titles. He is still only 26 years old.)
Things are closer, at least somewhat, on the women’s side. Tiril Udnes Weng of Norway has worn the yellow leader’s bib, denoting the World Cup overall leader, since the 10km skate in Lillehammer on December 2. Jessie Diggins was threatening that position through Period 1, then was less of a threat after some rough races in the Tour de Ski, then suddenly started hitting the podium every other race in Period 3 to move back into contention.
Coming into the final weekend of races, Udnes Weng is 110 points ahead of Diggins in the overall standings, with 240 points still up for grabs. Here is a helpful table showing where things currently stand:
As a matter of simple math, Diggins is very much in the hunt, since 240 > 110. (I mean, as a strict matter of math, Kerttu Niskanen is also in contention for the overall title, because 240 > 218, but I don’t see Udnes Weng scoring zero points this weekend while Niskanen wins everything, so I really feel like it comes down to Udnes Weng vs. Diggins by this point.) As a matter of what will actually happen in the races… Diggins has been roughly 100 points back of Udnes Weng throughout most of Period 4. And Jessie Diggins is an amazing skier, but the math requires her not only to do well in these races, but to score that much better than Udnes Weng.
Some commentators have been all but willing Diggins toward the top: “While Weng’s results have fallen off as the season has progressed,” Peggy Shinn wrote earlier this month following World Championships, “Diggins is soaring. Should she surpass Weng, and hold off Finland’s Kerttu Niskanan, who lurks just 18 points behind Diggins in the overall rankings, Diggins would shush the naysayers who claim that she won the 2021 title because the Norwegians sat out much of the world cup tour that year because of COVID-19.”
Shinn again referred to Diggins’s potential to “shush the naysayers” following the historic inaugural women’s 50km at Holmenkollen, where Diggins adroitly won five of six intermediate primes to pick up a staggering 177 World Cup points on the day and close the gap to, at the time, 87 points back from Udnes Weng.
Anyway, there appear to be 240 points on offer from two remaining races, including 115 for Saturday’s classic sprint (15 for the winner of the sprint qual plus 100 for the overall winner) and 125 for Sunday’s classic mass start (100 for the winner, plus I thought each distance prime had a max of 15 bonus points, so I’ll admit that I don’t see how you get to 125 off of that).
Neither Diggins nor Tiril Udnes Weng is racing in tomorrow’s team sprint. I would assume that Kerttu Niskanen is racing Sunday’s classic race, which is where the distance globe will be decided as between her and Diggins.
Racing for the Americans tomorrow are Sammy Smith and Hailey Swirbul, for the women, and Gus Schumacher and Kevin Bolger (USA I) and Zak Ketterson and JC Schoonmaker (USA II) for the men.
Here is when the races will be:
World Cup Finals, Lahti, Finland (local time at venue: you’re gonna want to look this one up, since it switches to daylight savings time at 3 a.m. on Sunday and things are gonna get messy. It will be in the nine- to ten-hours ahead of Alaska Time range. Also take these start times with a grain of salt, since I don’t know if my FIS app is adjusting for that time change yet.)
|date||race||time (AK)||time (EST)||results|
|Friday, March 24||W team sprint qual||5:20 a.m.||9:20 a.m.||here|
|M team sprint qual||5:40 a.m.||9:40 a.m.||here|
|W team sprint finals||6:50 a.m.||10:40 a.m.||here|
|M team sprint finals||7:19 a.m.||11:19 a.m.||here|
|Saturday, March 25||classic sprint qual||1:30 a.m.||5:30 a.m.||here|
|classic sprint finals||4 a.m.||9 a.m.||here|
|Sunday, March 26||W 20km cl mass start||1 a.m.||5 a.m.||here|
|M 20km cl mass start||2:45 a.m.||6:45 a.m.||here|
Need help viewing the races from the U.S.? Here’s our full article on how to watch.
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SuperTour racing also wraps up this weekend, at Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Vermont. The first day of racing there, full disclosure, was yesterday; I’ll blurb results from that race, which was the year’s final SuperTour competition, later today. (You can find the 10km classic article here.)
The final three races, held on Friday through Sunday, are all national championships. Friday and Sunday are individual championships; Saturday is a club championship. Here’s when those races will be:
SuperTour Finals, Craftsbury, Vermont (local time at venue: Eastern Time)
|date||race||time (AK)||time (EST)||results|
|Friday, March 24||skate sprint qual||10 a.m.||2 p.m.||here|
|sk sprint junior heats||12 p.m.||4 p.m.||here|
|sk sprint open heats||1 p.m.||5 p.m.||here|
|sk sprint M’s final||2:10 p.m.||6:10 p.m.||here|
|sk sprint W’s final||2:20 p.m.||6:20 p.m.||here|
|Saturday, March 25||4 x 5km skate mixed relay||7 a.m.||11 a.m.||here|
|Sunday, March 26||women’s 44km classic||5 a.m.||9 a.m.||here|
|junior girls 22km classic||5 a.m.||9 a.m.||here|
|men’s 44km classic||8 a.m.||12 p.m.||here|
|junior boys 22km classic||8 a.m.||12 p.m.||here|
Notably, there will also be a livestream, after a fashion, or at least there was for Wednesday’s interval-start classic. You can find yesterday’s stream here. If there are streams for the weekend’s races, you could find them through here.
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Thanks for reading Nordic Insights this season. It has, I can’t lie, been a long season for me as well, but I’ve had a lot of fun and like to think that I have done a small bit to help both American skiing and American ski fans. I’m going to be pretty quiet on the site the next two days; I’m traveling Friday and Saturday for a season-ending 50km of my own.
I’ll be back online on Sunday to cover the last day of World Cup racing, then after that next week for at least some level of SuperTour Finals wrapping up. Things will then be pretty fallow on the site through most of April, since I am going to pretend that I am a pro skier and take off much of the month (read, clean out the piles of undone tasks that have accumulated since the World Cup season started; also, go ski a lot), before getting back up to speed come May 1, skier’s new year. Thanks for reading.
— Gavin Kentch