Finn Haagen Krogh went like clockwork and secured Norway the World Championship title in the men’s cross-country relay event. It was the ninth consecutive Norwegian triumph in the exercise.
– It is the worst guy (Russian Sergey Ustiugov) to have chasing me. Martin (Sundby) gave me just enough distance to keep ahead. It was dreadful conditions. My legs were burning after just a few metres, said Krogh to FIS TV.
Ustjugov started at a blistering pace in pursuit of Krogh, but after a while Krog was able to Norway’s lead once again. Then Ustjugov came up with a new powerful stint, but it was not enough.
Krogh was the anchor man for the first time in a championship, and he did his job radiantly with well disposed race. He had the course perfectly staked out and was not stressed by the chasing Ustjugov.
The Russian never came close enough to challenge Norway and had to contend with the silver medal.
Sweden took the bronze with Calle Halfvarsson as anchorman. The Finn fell in the last corner in the fight for medals, this time of his own accord.
The relay was a duel between Norway and Russia from the start. It did not take very long time on first leg before the two teams left the pack behind.
Didrik Tønseth and Niklas Dyrhaug did a rock solid job and gave Martin Johnsrud Sundby a great starting point before the third leg.
Sundby fought with Russian debutant Alexei Tsjervotkin and was stuck behind him for five kilometres. Out of the stadium on the third of four rounds, Sundby fired a rocket – without getting rid of the Russian.
The youngster impressed when he held Sundby in check until eight kilometres into the stage, but then the steam ran out of the Russian. He lost 17.7 seconds from there on into the exchange.
– I had a job to do, namely to give Finn a few seconds head start. It was horrible being a spectator afterwards, said Sundby to FIS TV.
Swedes goofing up
Sweden experienced a horrible relay on the first two stages. Both Daniel Richardsson and Johan Olsson had ill prepared ski’s, leaving them with a hopeless task.
Therefore Sweden was left far, far behind after the classical section. A real preparation miss — smørebom — left the Swedes completely out of the title race.
The last ten winners of the men’s relay at the World Championship before Friday’s race were:
1997, 2001-2015 Norway, with Austria as the only fly in the ointment in 1999.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today