GALLIVARE, Sweden: Norway dominated the opening cross-country World Cup meet of the season on Saturday, as Marit Bjoergen earned her 56th individual victory in the women’s 10-kilometer freestyle event and Martin Johnsrud Sundby surprisingly won the men’s 15K race.
Bjoergen led the interval-start race from the first intermediate time and crossed the finish line in 22 minutes, 31.8 seconds for what the 32-year-old triple Olympic champion called “a perfect beginning” to the season.
“I felt like going fast on the skis today and was curious to see whether my body would be with me,” Bjoergen said.
Bjoergen’s teammate Therese Johaug came second, 12.6 seconds behind, and Kikkan Randall of the United States was third, 25.9 seconds back.
In the men’s race, Johnsrud Sundby stunned the field by earning his first World Cup victory in a freestyle event — and just second individual win overall — by finishing in 30 minutes, 37.0 seconds.
“It’s a good feeling I have inside of me right now,” the 28-year-old classical-style specialist said. “There’s a lot of hard work that has started to pay off.” Alexey Poltoranin of Kazakhstan was 8.9 seconds behind in second place, while Sweden’s Marcus Hellner was third.
This was the fifth time Gallivare, located some 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, hosted the season-opening event of the cross-country World Cup.