Therese Johaug is back with a vengeance in Seefeld
It is a short distance from heaven to hell. All kinds of thoughts went through the mind of Therese Johaug, as she once again crossed the finishing line as the World Champion.
1456 days after Johaug became World Champion on the 30K in Falun, she repeated the feat.
Meanwhile, she has been through more than most. The doping verdict led her to be banned for 18 months. Johaug, therefore, missed both the Lahti World Championships and the Pyeongchang Olympics.
It was no wonder that it boiled in her head after the rememberable feat in Seefeld. The victory in skiathlon is a great comeback.
“There was a lot of things running through my mind after what I have been through for the last two years. There have been many heavy and grey days. You are considering whether it really is worth it to keep on doing this, but I have chosen to persevere. I have tried to train as much as possible every day. Today is the payday. This is a wonderful experience, ”Johaug laughs in the press zone.
Everyone was present, including both the President of the Norwegian Ski Federation, Erik Røste and Johaug’s Manager, Jørn Ernst.
At the fence above the flower ceremony, Papa Thorvall was leaning out of the stands. He managed to throw a bouquet of flowers to his daughter below.
Everything looked different just a year ago. She could not participate at the Pyeongchang Olympics. Instead, she stayed in Seefeld together with her personal trainer, Pål Gunnar Mikkelsplass, and her boyfriend, Nils Jakob Hoff.
“One year ago I was sitting in a hotel room here in Seefeld and watched that the other girls winning the relay gold at the Olympics, and I was about to dawdle around here by myself and Pål Gunnar. I performed in a test event together with Nils Jakob. He started two minutes in front of me so that I had a back to aim for. There are many thoughts going through my mind, ”Johaug continues.
Sports life offers contrasts. Therese Johaug is living proof of that.
Johaug says that she was very nervous before start:
“This is a distance that I have felt uncertain about, and where anything can happen. It was very good to hear the starter gun and notice that I had incredibly good skis. That my condition on the day is very good. This is a day I have looked forward to for more than two years. I’ve been sitting in front of the TV, being a spectator to two championships. It’s been tough, but it’s finally my turn this year. That I could fulfil my dream on the first day, is great. ”
Johaug did as she had decided. She turned up the pace into the first uphill. The Competitors were quickly left behind.
It ended as everyone thought that it would. The victory was never threatened. In Swedish newspapers, she has been called a liar because of expressing modest objectives in public:
“People have to respect my goals. It’s not just a walk in the park to end up four gold as is expected. It’s been a long time since I have at a championship. I’m going to give my all. The aim is to bring a gold medal back home. I am very happy, relieved and proud of what I have achieved. ”
“Your doping case is brought up once again in Swedish media. What are your thoughts on that?”
“That is understandable given what I have been through. That case will follow me for the rest of my life. I have served my sentence and have been out of circulation for two years. I can’t do anything more about it. What has happens, happens, and I must live with that.”
“What are your thoughts about the rest of the World Championships”
“I have always said that the 10K Classic style and the 30K are the main targets, and I know my shape is good. Now, it’s just about being happy. Isn’t it?”
Røthe won his first World Championships gold medal on a dream day for Norway
Sjur Røthe was strong on the skating part and finished better than everyone else at the World Championships 30K skiathlon. The reward for that is the first individual championship gold of his career.
The Russian, Aleksandr Bolshunov, sprinted to a silver medal, while Martin Johnsrud Sundby walked away with the bronze medal in Seefeld on Saturday.
Røthe thus won the fourth out of four Norwegian cross country gold medals so far in the World Championships.
“Now I have it absolutely splendid. I’m a little bit touched by it – because this is great!” Røthe tells NRK in the finishing area.
I have to say I was very confident that I would have a chance to do this. It is difficult to put this into words. I had laid a very good plan for the final two kilometres, and that worked out like a charm, he adds.
National team coach, Eirik Myhr Nossum, had to interrupt his interview with the national broadcaster. He couldn’t hold back the tears – and had to have a few minutes to himself.
Tough for Klæbo and Iversen
Together with Sundby, Røthe was very well placed during the classical part of Saturday’s 30K. After the change of skis, Røthe was second, 2.5 seconds behind French Clément Parisse. Sundby followed next, 4.5 seconds behind Røthe.
During the skating part, Røthe was in command for the first few kilometres. The man from Voss was grinding on and obtained a small gap. it seemed then as if he was about to get away from the pursuers, but they managed to close the gap.
When the medals were about to be dished out, it was down to Røthe, Bolshunov and Sundby.
“I obtained another championship medal, and I’m very happy with that. I’m super happy,” Sundby tells NRK.
Johannes Høsflot Klæbo and Emil Iversen were unable to follow the pace on the classical part and their medal chances thus evaporated into thin air.
Third World Championships medal
Saturday’s gold medal comes after a season where Røthe has been back in the top after a difficult time. Two world cup victories are secured in the run-up to the World Championships.
The 30-years-old has struggled with Bechterev’s syndrome during recent seasons, and a year ago he was at home while his teammates were battling for Olympic medals in Pyeongchang.
Prior to the World Championships, Røthe did not hide the fact that a medal would be a special full stop to a challenging time.
“In view of the last two seasons, the circle has been completed quite well – with a World Championships medal,” he states.
On Saturday, it was almost that just saying so, would make it happen.
The track record of the man from Voss contained from before a relay gold medal from the World Championships in Val di Fiemme in 2013 and a bronze medal on the 30K at the same championship.
Medal overview in the Ski World Championships in Seefeld after 6 out of 22 events
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today