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Cross-country skiing, Drammen World Cup 2022. Will Federico Pellegrino break the podium taboo thanks to his many absences?

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The Cross-Country Skiing World Cup leaves Finland and moves to Norway, where it will take place in the next few days. It starts already on Thursday in Drammen , where a city sprint will be staged as usual. This town of 100,000 inhabitants, located about forty kilometers from the capital Oslo, entered the calendar of the maximum circuit in 2003 . Since then, the iconic sprint through the park and through the streets of the city center has become a fixture. The exceptions are 2009 (for logistical reasons it was competed in Trondheim), 2020 (the lack of snow forced the organizers to transfer the event to the nearby Konnerud slopes) and 2021 (no international level competition held in Norway in any sport due to the restrictive quarantine policies for entering the country). In 2022 the seventeenth edition of the event will therefore be staged, which, moreover, has almost always been held in classical technique . Only in 2011 did the athletes compete in skating, an experiment never repeated.

In the men’s field, the king of Drammen is undoubtedly the Norwegian Eirik Brandsdal , able to impose himself 3 times (2012, 2015, 2017) and to get on the podium overall on 6 occasions, having finished third in 2016, as well as second both. in 2018 and 2019. That means the 35-year-old from Oslo, who recently retired, has also struck a streak of five consecutive top-three .

However, in more recent times the great protagonist of the appointment was Johannes Høsflot Klæbo , whose 2018 and 2019 successes were preceded by the second place in 2017. The 25-year-old from Trondheim is also the only active athlete to have already excelled in this context, which, moreover, is historically a friend of home athletes. The Norwegians have in fact won 14 of the 16 sprints disputed in history, making four hat-tricks over the years. The only one capable of breaking the Norge monopoly was Swede Emil Jönsson at the beginning of the last decade.

Cross-country skiing: Klaebo wins in comeback in Lahti with a powerful final, Pellegrino disqualified in the semifinal

Italians have always suffered in this context, except for the surprising third place obtained by Maicol Rastelli in 2014. That day the thirty-year-old from Valtellina unexpectedly climbed to the lowest step of the podium, behind the new Olympic champion Ola Vigen Hattestad and Pål Golberg. Federico Pellegrino , on the other hand, never went beyond the semifinals .

But be careful, because the 2022 edition promises to be decidedly lower than usual. All Norwegian sprinters present in Lahti tested positive for Covid-19. Furthermore, the ban of Russian athletes from international competitions following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, will further thin out the starting field, opening unexpected scenarios for those who may be in the match.


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