Martin Johnsrud Sundby wins first individual world title with dramatic 15km victory
Experienced Norwegian skier Martin Johnsrud Sundby won his first individual World Championships gold on Wednesday with a dramatic victory in the 15km.
Sundby, 34, has been a stalwart of the Norway team for some years and had won seven World Championships medals before today, including two team golds and a bronze in this year’s 30km skiathlon.
However his finest moment came in what might be his last championships as he won a stunning gold in the 15km at Seefeld.
He beat out Russia’s Alexander Bessmertnykh by just 2.9s as he finished with a time of 38:22.6.
The Russian was the leader after he had smashed the pace-setting time of 2017 champion Iivo Niskanen, who in the end had to settle for bronze.
Speaking afterwards Sundby told Eurosport's Devon Kershaw and Carsten Skjelbreid “What to say…I don’t know what to say, it’s just emotions.
" I was fighting for the bronze I thought!"
“Yeah that was the messages I got until the last uphill, the sprint one, I didn’t know I was fighting for anything else than the bronze medal.
Athlete Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway competes in the men's 15km classic individual race event at the 2019 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Seefeld. Sergei Bobylev/TASSGetty Images
“I heard that Bolshunov was skiing fast and actually when I passed here for the last loop I saw that Niskanen took a few seconds and I thought ‘Oh s*** this is going to be a fourth again!’
“I thought for real I was fighting for the bronze medal and when people started shouting I was panicking, I was totally panicking for the last 2kms but this is surreal.
“I have been thinking about this moment, in my mind I was this hard-ass guy who would say ‘oh it’s just a victory,’ it’s was not just victory.
“It was a lot of emotions and then you start thinking of everybody, the team and the family at home, everything just comes to you.
" It’s just a victory but this one is maybe the sweetest."
His coach Eirik Myhr Nossum was equally emotional speaking to Eurosport “It was amazing, it was like a rollercoaster throughout the whole race, it was hard to read how this race was going to be but I had this feeling quite early that Martin was going to do great today and that the last 7.5km would be decisive for the victory and it truly was.
" I am so happy for Martin who has been like this father figure for the team for many years, he has been doing so great, winning much and sort of defining training for that team for many years. "
Further down the standings a fantastic performance from Great Britain’s Andrew Musgrave saw him finish joint-eighth, level with one of the pre-race favourites Alexander Bolshunov.
Just ahead of them was Sundby’s compatriot Sjur Roethe, who was a late addition after replacing Johannes Klaebo.