SkiO World Cup Final Pursuit: second victory for Ekström

Niklas Ekström, Finland kept his cool throughout the 3-loop Pursuit today to win by 52 seconds, whilst in the women’s race it was victory for Norwegian Anna Ulvensøen by just 8 seconds.

Ekström and Ulvensøen are both second in the World Cup standings and have narrowed the gap to the leaders today, with Ekström now only 45 points behind Jørgen Baklid, Norway ahead of the final Middle Distance race tomorrow, and Ulvensøen 85 points behind Sweden’s Magdalena Olsson.

The men’s race was first on a misty, cloudy day with little wind and slow skiing conditions. Finland’s Aapo Viippola, third yesterday, had a shorter early forking and took a good early lead. Some long legs with plentiful route choice led to many changes of position, but it was Viippola who began the second loop in the lead by 15 seconds over Ekström. The Swiss athlete Nicola Müller was with Ekström for much of the second loop, and they were challenged by Jonatan Ståhl, Sweden and Jørgen Baklid with different forking, with Viippola also still very much in the race. All the leaders converged at the second TV control, but it was Müller in the lead at the end of loop 2.

As loop 3 progressed it became clear that Ekström was skiing strongly and getting away from the others, and he made no mistake in the final section to come in with a comfortable victory. Behind him, a frantic sprint ended with Viippola just ahead of Müller and Baklid. There was then a big gap down to the Bulgarian Stanimir Belomazhev in fifth place and Eeevert Toivonen, the third Finnish athlete in the top six.

The women’s race was equally exciting with many changes of position. Anna Ulvensøen, third yesterday, got an early lead and finished the first loop ahead of Magdalena Olsson. The Sprint winner Judita Traubaite, Lithuania had a slow start but pulled back to second place at one stage, and Elin Schagerström, Sweden had a particularly impressive first half of the race, moving up several places to third.

Ulvensøen came to the end of loop 2 a few seconds ahead of World Cup leader Magdalena Olsson, Sweden, but had a slower first forking on the final loop. Towards the end they were both together and a sprint for the win was on the cards, but crucially, Olsson fell on the downhill between the second-last and last controls, giving Ulvensøen victory by 8 seconds. Daisy Kudre Schnyder on home terrain worked very hard to come up to third place 2.18 down on the winner, gaining 2 places on her starting position, and Schagerström finished fourth. Traubaite had some route choice problems but fought hard to get into fifth place, and for the second day running Maria Hoskari, Finland was sixth. The winning time was more than 6 minutes down on the estimated winning time due to the heavy skiing conditions.

Photos: Reigo Teervalt

The terrain was undulating, no big hills but a lot of detail with some flatter areas with lakes and marshes. There was a big variety of roads, tracks and paths giving some complex and varied route choice challenges, leading to many competitors losing time at one stage or another. Fascinating to watch all the route choice variations and small mistakes on the GPS tracking shown on IOF TV!

Tomorrow’s Middle distance is the final World Cup race of the SkiO season, the women’s race starting at 10.00 and the men’s at 10.45 (UTC+2). It will televised on IOF TV from 10.20.

Leading results


  1. Anna Ulvensøen NOR 1:07:19
  2. Magdalena Olsson SWE + 0.08
  3. Daisy Kudre Schnyder EST + 2.18
  4. Elin Schagerström SWE + 2.29
  5. Judita Traubaite LTU + 4.10
  6. Maria Hoskari FIN + 6.40


  1. Niklas Ekström FIN 1:06:04
  2. Aapo Viippola FIN + 0.52
  3. Nicola Müller SUI + 0.53
  4. Jørgen Baklid NOR + 0.54
  5. Stanimir Belomazhev BUL + 3.13
  6. Eevert Toivonen FIN + 3.15

Team World Cup

Finland has gained good points on Norway and Sweden today and the gap up to Sweden is now only 6 points.

Scores with two races left (men’s and women’s Middle):

Norway 197 points

Sweden 165

Finland 159

Switzerland 150