Blood, sweat and tears of joy

March 5, 2024

What a weekend Team Madshus has served up, with spectacular victories on multiple arenas. Let’s recap the highlights, in case you missed the action. 

By Inge Scheve

It was perhaps the most action-packed weekend of the entire racing season, with high-stakes competitions on the schedule at the World Cup and Continental Cup level for both cross-country and biathlon. Madshus athletes took home more than a dozen podium finishes.  

The FIS cross-country World Cup returned to Europe after a two-week tour in North America for three races in Lahti (FIN). 

The IBU Biathlon World Cup returned to Oslo (NOR) after a break for the 2024 World Championships in February. The IBU-Cup was back in business after a 4-week break. And the youth and junior racers fought for medals at the 2024 IBU Youth and Junior World Championships in Otepää (EST). 

And for the long-distance racers, it was showtime in Sweden on Sunday, featuring the 100th edition of Vasaloppet, the legendary 90-kilometer race from Sälen to Mora. 

Let’s recap the action day by day. 

Story continues below

Photo by: Nordic Focus

Madshus biathlete Ragnhild Femsteinevik (NOR) has barely shown her face at the races this season due to Covid and a long recovery. But Thursday afternoon, she kicked off the IBU-Cup in Obertilliach (AUT) with her first podium of the year: The 28-year-old won the sprint in a decisive way. 

“I’ve struggled so hard this season, so to finally shoot clean and ski fast in a race, was such a relief. I’m so happy,” Femsteinevik said. 

Madshus racers kicked off their weekend at the Scandinavian Cup in Hommelvik (NOR) snagging two of the three spots on the podium in the skate sprint on Friday afternoon: Måns Skoglund (SWE) was second and Sivert Wiig (NOR) was third.

Madshus biathlete Sturla Holm Lægreid returned from the World Championships with three medals: Two gold and a silver. In his first race after the championships, he went straight for the top of the podium. And again, he did it in a spectacular way: Nailing 20 targets and skiing like greased lightning in front of a large and loud home crowd in Holmenkollen. 

“While I was skiing around out there, I came to recall it had been a while since I nailed all 20 in an individual. Plus, I love these courses. I’ve trained and competed here since I was 12 years old,” Lægreid said after his race. 

Also on Friday, and also on home turf, Finnish veteran Krista Pärmäkoski bagged a solid second place in the team sprint in Lahti. That was only a small taste of what she had in store. 

Story continues below

Photo by: Nordic Focus

Coming off her strong second-place finish in the team sprint on Friday afternoon, Pärmäkoski set the stage and the tone for Saturday before most people had finished breakfast: The 33-year-old won the 20-kilometer classic race in Lahti, her first World Cup victory in nearly six years. Last time was in Falun (SWE) on March 17, 2018. 

“It’s so amazing to be back on the podium. I’ve had such a rough season and so many difficult years. This is a very emotional day,” Pärmäkoskii said as tears were running down her cheeks. 

In the afternoon, the biathletes followed suit with a solid double podium in Holmenkollen: Lægreid snagged his second straight Word Cup victory on home snow, while Benedikt Doll (GER) hauled into second place, just six seconds later. 

Story continues below

Photo by: Nordic Focus

Starting at 8 am, the 100th edition of Vasaloppet was the first event. The legendary race featured 90 kilometers of incredibly challenging conditions with rain, slush and waterlogged tracks from Sälen to Mora. 

Nearly four hours later, Alvar Myhlback (SWE) pulled into third place and his second straight Ski Classics podium. The 17-year-old turbo junior was only three seconds away from second place, and helped his team to claim two podium finishes in the world’s most prestigious long-distance race.  

“It doesn’t get any bigger than this. A double podium with your best friend in the biggest event on the calendar,” said Myhlback, who couldn’t hold back his tears. 

“I felt good at the start and I joined a group of four at the front, but then I got really tired. I had to fight a lot. But I felt strong at the end.”

Story continues below

Photo by: Nordic Focus

Sunday afternoon, Femsteinevik and fellow Madshus biathlete Åsne Skrede concluded their weekend with a victory, helping Norway to first place in the mixed relay at the IBU-Cup.

Finally, at the Scandinavian Cup, Madshus women capped off their weekend dominating the 10-kilometer skate race in Hommelvik (NOR): They literally owned the podium and beyond, claiming the all of the first five spots. 

Helene Fossesholm earned her first victory in more than a year. Junior talent Eva Ingebrigtsen was second and Karoline Simpson-Larsen was third, while Johannes Hauge Harviken was fourth and rising star Mari Nordlunde was fifth. 

The future is golden
Additionally, rising Madshus stars have helped themselves to a handsome collection of hardware at the 2024 IBU Youth and Junior Championships in Otepää (EST). 

The championships ran from February 23 to March 2, and featured both team and individual events.