ZHANGJIAKOU / OSLO (VG) Johannes Høsflot Klæbo (25) was nowhere near hanging with arch-rival Aleksandr Bolshunov (25) during Sunday’s 30 kilometers.
Follow the Olympics live: 30 km with ski change
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After about five kilometers, the hard drive started on the men’s 30 kilometer joint start with ski change. Iivo Niskanen was given a chance to change things around. Alexander Bolshunov woke up.
The Russian went up to Niskanen, while the Norwegian athletes could not keep up. Johannes Høsflot Klæbo had no chance to follow Bolshunov, and when the ski change after 15 kilometers he was over a minute and a half behind the arch-rival.
After 17.5 kilometers, Klæbo is in 11th place, 2.10 behind Bolshunov.
Pål Golberg and Hans Christer Holund were at the change of skis just under 40 seconds behind the close duo, and thus just under ten seconds behind Russian Denis Spitsov in third place.
– We have not seen such distances before in a 30 kilometers before. In a joint start in the men’s field where it is so even… I do not think it would have looked like this if this went in the lowlands. The height has a lot to say here, says VGTV’s expert Sondre Sundby.
Bolshunov moved out of the skating section early from Niskanen. The Finn has also been passed by Denis Spitsov.
The fourth Norwegian gentleman in the race, Sjur Røthe, broke the race early.
VG is informed by Norway’s press attaché, Gro Eide, at the stadium in Zhangjiakou that Røthe was followed by national team doctor Øyvind Andersen after breaking the race, but that «there should be nothing serious».
Already as a 21-year-old, Johannes Høsflot Klæbo took his first World Cup medal when he took bronze in the sprint in Lahti in 2017. In the Olympics in 2018 and the World Cup in 2019 and 2021, there were three golds in each of the championships, and on all three occasions gold in sprint, team sprint and relay.
At a distance, things have not gone as well for Klæbo in the championship. Admittedly, he was very close on several occasions in Oberstdorf last year, but then it was fourth place in the 30-kilometer joint start with ski change and he was discarded from the gold on the five-mile after a collision with Aleksandr Bolshunov in the race.
Now it seems that there will also be no medal in the first distance race in this year’s Olympics.