OTEPAA, Estonia (AP) Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Marit Bjoergen won the men’s and women’s classic races in the cross-country ski World Cup on Sunday, underlining their status as gold medal contenders for the upcoming world championships.
Sundby stretched his World Cup standings lead with victory in the men’s 15-kilometer race in 40 minutes, 38.2 seconds, despite very wet conditions which caused frequent slips and falls for some of the top skiers.
Iivo Niskanen of Finland was second, 37.1 seconds off Sundby’s time, while Norwegian Hans Christer Holund was a further 12 seconds behind for third place.
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The 36-year-old Bjoergen was dominant as she finished the women’s 10-kilometer race in 29:59, beating Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla by 26.5 seconds and World Cup standings leader Heidi Weng of Norway by 57.2.
It was Bjoergen’s 106th career World Cup win, a record more than double that of the next best skier in history.
At four of the last five editions of the world championships or Olympics, the winner of the preceding women’s 10K has gone on to take gold, though that trend doesn’t hold for the men. None of the last nine winners of the final World Cup men’s distance event prior to a major championship has repeated the feat.
The world championships start Thursday in Finland with men’s and women’s sprints.