The pursuit discipline in ski orienteering often offers thrilling races and the final Ski O World Cup race of 2023 lived up to the expectations.
Another day with great skiing conditions met the athletes Sunday morning and just before 10.00 64 athletes gathered in the start area to set off the men’s race.
World Cup leader Jørgen Baklid (NOR) had a 32 second head start due to his impressive sprint performance the day before, but his followers soon caught up in the forkings on the first loop.
Aapo Viippola passed the arena halfway in the lead of a group of nine, but on the last loop Baklid reclaimed the leading position and kept that all the way to the finish.
Viippola was second just two seconds behind, and compatriot Eevert Toivonen followed and had his first top 3 position in Beitostølen.
Niklas Ekström (FIN) was fourth more than a minute behind and followed by Isak Lundholm (SWE) who overtook Wille Laitamaki (FIN) in the run in.
Sweden owned the women’s class
Sweden dominated the women’s race by claiming the first four places in today’s pursuit, but there were many changes in the position along the way.
First starter Linda Lindkvist (SWE) held on to the lead until the last loop, where Tove Alexandersson (SWE) passed her after showing great speed already from the start.
Alexandersson kept on pushing hard on the physically demanding legs at the end and was 18 seconds ahead of Lindkvist in the finish.
Behind them another Swede, Frida Sandberg had a great race and overtook both Daisy Kudre-Schnyder (EST) and Lisa Larsen (SWE) and finished third.
Larsen was fourth and Daisy Kudre-Schnyder dropped to sixth position after a stunning pursuit performance by Anna Ulvensøen (NOR) who climbed from 15th to fifth during the 9,3 kilometers.
Kudre-Schnyder and Baklid repeated overall World Cup victories
Even before today’s pursuit race began it was clear that Daisy Kudre-Schnyder and Jørgen Baklid would win the overall World Cup – just as they did last year.
Behind the Estonian Linda Lindkvist was certain to finish second but the third place changed hands today as Frida Sandberg overtook fellow Swede Lisa Larsen with 12 points. Anna Ulvensøen was fifth and Evelina Wickbom (SWE) held on the sixth place.
Nothing changed in the men’s top 3, where Baklid scored a total of 630 points. Aapo Viippola got 545 points and Niklas Ekström 440 in third place.
Behind them Jonatan Ståhl (SWE) held on to the fourth place just 12 points ahead of Eevert Toivonen, who climbed to fifth at the expense of Henrik Fredriksen Aas (NOR), who finished sixth.
Close call in U23 World Cup
Women’s U23 standings offered the possibility of a nail biter as both Finland’s Maria Hoskari and Eliane Deininger (SUI) could claim the overall title today. Hoskari was the fastest of the two and won by just 10 points to Deininger. Sweden’s Elin Schagerström finished third.
Niklas Ekström (FIN) was certain to claim the men’s U23 title before the start and Henrik Fredriksen Aas managed to keep his second place as well. But the battle for third place was close as both Isak Jonsson (NOR) and Jonatan Ståhl (SWE) scored 470 in total. But Jonsson’s higher position today brought him to the podium, while Ståhl had to settle for the overall fourth place.
Top 6 results, Pursuit
1 Tove Alexandersson SWE 57:22 minutes
2 Linda Lindkvist SWE + 0:18
3 Frida Sandberg SWE + 1:14
4 Lisa Larsen SWE + 1:39
5 Anna Ulvensøen NOR + 1:42
6 Daisy Kudre-Schnyder EST + 1:59
1 Jørgen Baklid NOR 60:04 minutes
2 Aapo Viippola FIN + 0:02
3 Eevert Toivonen FIN + 0:08
4 Niklas Ekström FIN + 1:14
5 Isak Lundholm SWE + 1:46
6 Wille Laitamaki FIN + 1:48
All photos: IOF / Erling Thisted