Though the World Championship and World Cup Overall titles were secure, it would still be an action packed Saturday in Norway. Once again, It would be Nino and Kulhavy battling it out for the win, with Kulhavy coming out on top in the end.
It was not going to be an easy task for the World Champion. As Julien Absalon was not able to compete because of two broken ribs from the World Championships, Nino had already secured his overall World Wup title for 2013. Some might argue that this took away some drive from Nino. "Sure the preparation for this one was not ideal, but hopefully I can still count on some of my form that's left from worlds," said an optimistic Schurter prior to the race.
It was with that self confidence that he put the hurt on the others right from the start. With Fumic, Fontana, Cink, M. Flückiger and Kulhavy in tow, the group that was able to follow him was larger than in prior races, but Nino looked strong. It was clear that Nino wanted to win this one.
Kulhavy was the biggest threat. He was the only one to stay with Nino for the last third of the race. Two times he was passed by Nino mid air on the BMX style jumps. It looked like Nino was having a lot of fun out there and this was very much appreciated by the crowd.
Though, on last lap during the very last long climb, Jaro launched an attack that brought Nino trouble. Memories from the Olympic games in London started to flash back. Even Nino, taking all the risks on the final long descent, was not able to close the gap again. He had nothing to hold against Kulhavy's first victory of the season. The "deja vu" was perfect!
Nino seemed more surprised than disappointed, stating that, "The last lap I did not have the power anymore. There is no more meat on the prosciutto. It's down to the bone (this are actually Jose Antonio Hermida's words). Hey! Even if I did not win today, I can be proud of my excellent season. The World Champion and World Cup title are mine again in the same year, and that is something to celebrate."
Right he is. At the age of 27 winning 3 World Champion titles and 3 World Cup tittles is indeed something for the record books. Let's hope Kulhavy does not get too confident about this victory. Next year the World Championships are going to be held on this course in Hafjell.
The race was unpredictable. There were a lot more crashes and mechanicals than usual. Florian Vogel made it trough without any troubles, finishing in a good 12th place. "The course was new and the track not yet compact. It was very bumpy and rocky too. The super light SCOTT Spark 700 was the perfect choice for it. It saved me a lot of energy on the descents," said Florian. Nino also elected to race the Spark 700.
No luck for Andri Frischknecht. He broke his chain and ripped his derralieur off. He was not able to finish. Jenny Rissveds won her second Eliminator World Cup race of the season. But the very tough course left her without enough recovery for the U23 XC race, where she finished in 6th. Overall she had a great season and sure is a hopeful young lady for the future.