For most elite cross-country skiers and biathletes, The Blink festival marks the kickoff of the race prep part of the dryland season. The 4-day Nordic festival is the first major international competition since the end of the World Cup season in March.
While the main race season is still months away, the Blink festival is an important opportunity for the athletes to see how they stack up to their main competitors halfway through the dryland season.
Straight to the top
At the very first event at the Blink22 festival, Sophia Laukli (USA) grabbed the victory in the brutal 7.5-kilometer uphill roller ski race Lysebotn Opp on Wednesday, August 3.
“I like uphill races, but this one was really hard! I just had to go switch back by switch back, and I was super happy when I could see the finish line,” says Laukli, who had her major international breakthrough finishing top-10 in the infamous Alpe Cermis hill climb in the 2022 Tour de Ski.
But while uphill racing is one of Laukli’s major strengths, the 21-year-old didn’t expect to win Lysebotn Opp with most of the World Cup elite on the start line.
“I never thought I would win it, but I felt really strong today. I was in the lead group with two other skiers, but I pulled most of the way. A couple of kilometers from the top, Heidi Weng dropped off the back. I pulled ahead, but the French girl kept gaining on me, so I surged again. Luckily, I managed to keep the gap to the finish line,” Laukli says of her race.
On Thursday, The Blink festival continued with the 52-kilometer Blink Classics. Madshus marathon racer Magnus Vesterheim (NOR) snagged the third place in a massive sprint finish that turned into a prestigious battle between Ski Classics marathon pros and World Cup racers. The Blink Classics event is also part of both the international roller ski cup World Classic Tour, and the 2022 Ski Classics roller ski series.
Then the Blink festival moved on to Sandnes, featuring both cross-country and biathlon races on Friday and Saturday, all in front of huge crowds in the city center.
On Friday, the 21-year-old biathlon talent Martin Femsteinevik (NOR), beat Olympic gold winner and 4-time World champion Sturla Holm Lægreid (NOR) in the Blink Supersprint. The Madshus duo were second and third, respectively, in the stacked biathlon competition.
Following suit, Madshus racer Renaud Jay (FRA) snagged third place in the 15-kilometer cross-country mass start.
IBU Summer Biathlon Cup Opener
For the biathletes, the Blink festival also served as the first round of the new IBU summer biathlon Cup. The next event in the cup is the 2022 IBU summer biathlon World Championships in Rupholding (GER) in on August 25-28, while the Martin Fourcade Nordic Festival in France on September 2-4 is the final round of the new IBU summer biathlon Cup.
Photo by: BLINK/Erik Fylkesnes