Nations Cup Ranking:
1st (8826 pts)
Men: 1st (4812 pts)
Women: 1st (4014 pts)
Number of Skiers Scoring WC Points:
35 men, 15 women
What you may have missed last season:
The complete lack of Norwegian distance men after Petter Northug Jr.- in fact, they were downright awful. Northug dominated, everyone is pretty clear on that. But his success was the complete opposite of his friends on the distance team. These lads were a bunch of brutally awful let-downs, without being too harsh. After Petter, the next guy on the Distance list was Eldar Roenning, who finished 25th. Not to slag Eldar, but in Norway, having your second guy finish 25th on the World Cup Distance list is kind of like if Sidney Crosby scored 3 goals all season. Heads roll for that kind of thing. And it doesn’t get much better. Martin Johnsrud Sundby (the guy is all over the map) was 28th, Tord Asle Gjerdalen (Aviators himself) was 35th, and finally Ronny Andre Hafsaas, Mr-I’m-going-to-give-up-biathlon-because-I-won-one-race-so-I-can-kill-at-the-Olympics finished 37th on the back of his single 100 point start. Only 5 Norwegians scored over 100 Distance points, and none of them were young guns getting ready to step in and make a difference.
Who Killed It
Petter Northug Jr.
I hardly need to say this, but Northug was – for the first time in his career – the most dominant skier on the World Cup. He pretty much owned, aside from two notable races, one of which was at the Olympics. He killed everyone in every possible format – pursuit, sprint, mass start, individual start, underwater basket weaving, you name it, Petter Northug Jr. was probably at the top of the results list. He was so confident by the end of the season he opted to double-pole the city sprint in Stockholm, Sweden, and still ended up on the podium. He won the World Cup Overall, the Distance standings, and finished 2nd in the Sprint standings. He collected 1621 WCP, 4 Olympic Medals and a press shit storm after he came 41st in the 15 km. Apologies to the religious crowd, but this year he was Jesus on skis.
The Sprint Team
While Ola Vigen Hattestad dropped massively from his form last year, sprinting is notoriously fickle, and it is difficult to be as dominant as he was in 2008/2009. They packed 8 men into the top 30, kind of like every time there is a sprint on the World Cup. Other than Northug in 2nd, Hattestad was 5th, John Kristian Dahl 7th, Andres Gloeersen 9th, Erik Brandsdal 11th, Oeystein Pettersen 14th, Roenning 17th and Simen Oestensen 29th. Not too shabby.
Marit “Bear Women” Bjoergen as some have dubbed her had some serious skills this season. She finished 2nd in the Overall, collecting 1320 WCP tying her previous best. She didn’t race the Tour de Ski, but absolutely exploded in the latter half of the season collecting 5 medals at the Green Ring Show, including 3 gold. As well, following the Oympics she won 7 World Cups, a feat not even Justyna “EPO” Kowalczyk can match. She was without a doubt the best skier at the Olympics, and was one Tour de Ski away from being the best female skier in the world.
Kristin Stoermer Steira
It seems a bit unfair to label her as a bust, but she exemplifies what happens when you fail to nut up at the big races. Thanks to my fellow cross country ski bloggers over at the Nordic Commentary Project, we have learned that KSS loves to finish 4th, especially when it matters. Her run of fourteen 4th place finishes is epic, especially when four of them come at the Olympic Games. Not that 4th is bad, but when you kick as much tail as KSS does on a regular basis (6th Overall, 892 WCP), you have to show up at the Olympics. Which she didn’t.
Notable Retirements: None yet.
Watch out for:
While Brun Lie did have an epic season, collecting 255 WCP on her way to 33rd Overall and and 17th on the Sprint list. She has been a rising star for the past few seasons, but with an improvement on her Classic sprinting, she will be ready to take some scalps on the big stage next year.
Also – Therese Johaug. Everyone knows why.