With the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games now in the archives, the Cross-Country Skiing World Cup dives into a long trip to Northern Europe. The first nation to be touched will be Finland, where Lahti ‘s “very classic” will be staged over the weekend. Located in the Päijät-Häme region, this city is located a hundred kilometers north-east of the Finnish capital Helsinki and is in effect a temple of Nordic disciplines.
In addition to having hosted 7 editions of the World Championships (1926, 1938, 1958, 1978, 1989, 2001, 2017), Lahti is famous for its so-called “Ski Games”, or, better said, ” Salpausselän Kisat “ in native language. The event, born in 1923 and now co-opted by the maximum circuit, consists of a series of cross-country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined competitions. The event, now close to a century of life , was canceled only three times (in 1930 due to lack of snow, in 1940 due to the Winter War and in 1942 due to lack of funds). Lahti is therefore a perpetual presence in the World Cup calendar. Therefore, it is not surprising that over the years 72 top-level individual men’s competitions have been admired on these snows.
The weekend program includes a skating sprint followed by a 15 km race against the time trial in alternating pace.
The sprint has an extensive literature on the snows of Lahti, so much so that Saturday will be the seventeenth in history, the fourteenth in free technique. Only one man was able to hoist himself to 3 successes. This is the Swedish Emil Jönsson , who triumphed in 2011, 2012 and 2013. However, it should be noted that the first two statements alternated.
So there are two athletes who have managed to win more than once in skating. These are the Norwegian Petter Northug (2007, 2009) and the Italian Federico Pellegrino (gold medal 2017, 2018). Clearly the world title of the 31-year-old from Nus has an enormous specific weight.
In addition to the Aosta Valley policeman, there are three other cross-country skiers currently in activity who have already excelled in the sprints of Lahti. These are the Norwegians Pål Golberg (2014), Emil Iversen (2016) and Johannes Høsflot Klæbo (2019).
Interestingly, Pellegrino and Klæbo both got on the podium in the last three sprints disputed in Lahti! In fact, the blue finished second in 2019, while the Scandinavian, before imposing himself, had been awarded the 2017 world champion bronze and had occupied third place also in 2018.
However, the “curious case of Finn Hågen Krogh ” should not be forgotten, three times on the podium, but never on the top step! The Norwegian finished third in 2013, second in 2016 and again third in 2019.
Before Pellegrino, Italy had already achieved great satisfaction in the Lahti sprints. On March 3, 2000, a triumph even came as Cristian Zorzi won and Silvio Fauner finished third. Zorzi himself then won the 2001 world championship silver behind the Norwegian Tor Arne Hetland.
10 KM TC
The 15 km alternating race also has a long tradition in Lahti, as evidenced by the fact that five world titles in this format have been awarded on these snows! On Sunday 27 February in Päijät-Häme a test against the time trial in classic technique will be held over the distance of 15,000 meters for the sixteenth time. However, only two men were able to repeat themselves. These are the Norwegian Bjørn Dæhlie (1992, 1999) and the Finnish Iivo Niskanen (gold medal 2017 and 2020).
It should be noted that Dæhlie’s successes are actually consecutive, since there were no 15 km between his two statements! Niskanen is instead in an open streak of three podiums, having finished second in 2018.
Among the active athletes there are three who have already excelled in this context. The Russian Alexander Bolshunov (2018) is added to the aforementioned host, but he obtained his victory at the table. That day the best was the Kazakh Alexey Poltoranin , subsequently disqualified for positive doping.
Furthermore, we must not forget the success of Francesco De Fabiani in March 2015, which in addition to representing the only blue podium in this format in Lahti, is also the only achievement obtained by an Italian in the 21st century in a distance race against the technical time trial. classical.