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Contenders Show Form Ahead of the Tour de Ski; Krogh and Jacobsen dominant in Sjusjøen.

Opa/Marathon Cup

While North American eyes were riveted on unprecedented performances in Quebec and Canmore it’s easy to forget that other races have been going on across the Atlantic, races used by potential Tour de Ski contenders to test their form.

Perhaps most ominous is the victory of Petter Northug (NOR) in La Sgambeda ski marathon, the first of 9 events in the FIS Marathon Cup.  Northug was his typical self, playing around mid-pack until Matti Heikkinen (FIN) started turning the screws at the front and shattered the pack down to 8.  Northug would linger towards the back until producing his trademark kick to victory.  He mentioned that he was pleased with the effort especially after all the heavy training he’s been doing ahead of the Tour de Ski.

As a side note, cast your eye down the results list.  Look to the 7th position.  That’s right, it’s Christian Zorzi, now 40 years old, showing form that would make Giorgio di Centa jealous.

One cannot help but notice the absence of Dario Cologna (SUI), a 3-time winner of the Tour de Ski, in Canmore.  Cologna is arguable Northug’s greatest challenger in this year’s Tour de Ski.  Clearly he has not been idle.  Today he skied clear of Alexander Legkov (RUS) , a potential Tour overall contender, by 19 seconds in an Opa cup in St. Ulrich.  The prior day he skied to a second place finish behind Franz Goering (GER) in a classic sprint.

Judging by the form of the two top contenders, this year should make for fascinating viewing.

Scandinavian Cup

Friday Finn Hagen Krogh returned to his best form in Sjusjøen, Norway.  He won Friday’s 15km free style by a clear margin of 47 seconds ahead of Tord Asle Gjerdalen with a time of 36:27.

Mike Dixon and any british fans will note Andrew Musgrave’s presence in the top 10, just under a minute behind Krogh.

Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (NOR) made her intentions clear with a comfortable 41 second victory ahead of teammate Tuva Staver (NOR) in a time of 27:38 in the women’s 10km freestyle event.

Saturday brought a surprise successive victory by Krogh over Thomas Northug,the brother of Petter Northug, in the freestyle sprint.  Krogh began his day in 3rd position after the prologue and would go on to sweep his quarterfinal, semifinal, and final.  Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen demonstrated her fitness with a storming victory in the free style sprint to complement her win in the 10km freestyle.

Sunday Anders Aukland gave his younger competitors a lesson in the 30 kilometer classic, just shading Lars Nelson, a Swedish club-skiing revelation, by 0.5 seconds.  Krogh, the previous days winner, had to content himself with 4th place finish behind  Simen Håkon Østensen, but his performance was good enough to give him a clear 119 point lead over Snorri Einarsson (NOR) over the three day competition.

Astrid Jacobsen secured her overall victory over Tuva Staver (NOR) with a second place performance Sunday in the women’s 15km classic race. , losing narrowly to Britt Nydal (NOR).

Jacobsen (NOR) and Krogh (NOR) emerged from the weekend the clear leader in the Scandinavian cup, which consists of 13 competitions, 3 of which were completed this weekend.

Complete Results

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