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  #281  
Old 02-10-13, 17:00
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Libertine Seguros Libertine Seguros is offline
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To be fair, while I'd been waiting for Miri to break out for a couple of years, patiently waiting through some bad times, it was by no means certain that she would break out like she has done. Pokljuka was the start of something big, and then her peak performance period was for her home World Cup events, which makes some kind of sense, no? The German women were expected to have a down-season in Neuner's absence and the three wins from Gößner and a couple of other podiums are more than many expected from the season. Expectations from her have gone from the unfairly low to the unfairly high when you consider she's still the youngest competitor in the top 30 in the World Cup, and Tora Berger never won a WC event until she was 27. She now has 23. Even if on form she will pick it up 9 times out of 10, it's not reasonable to expect her to be the top skier at every single race, she's already broken Neuner's record for most consecutive fastest course times. The problem Germany have is more on the men's side; the women were expected to have a bad year in the wake of Neuner's retirement and the men were meant to pick up the slack. No man has broken out in anything even remotely like the same style as Gößner, and worse, the dependable names haven't been so, well, dependable; Peiffer was good at Östersund but has traditionally started the season slowly and got better and been a top contender by the end of the season, and this year that just hasn't happened at all. Birnbacher is not on top form and has been ill. When fully fit he's been a contender, but the season's going in the wrong direction for the Germans. I wonder if the "will she/won't she" tug of love over the Nordic Worlds has had an effect on Miri's preparation for these championships too.

I expect to see Dahlmeier, Preuß, Raschke and Rees given a couple of gos to see what they can do in the last World Cup races of the season. What harm can it do?

Although it was really sad for Flatland and Zaitseva at the end there, I'm ecstatic that Krystyna Pałka finally got a big success. She's been getting solid rankings 6th-20th for a couple of years now without breaking through so it's great to see her manage it on the biggest stage of all. Well, second biggest, but the biggest is next year.
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  #282  
Old 02-10-13, 17:24
Tyler'sTwin Tyler'sTwin is offline
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Swedish commentator said he spoke to the german coaches about Peiffer and they said he trained very hard in the off-season and they were expecting big things from Arnd, but they think he may have over-trained. Yeah, Birnbacher has been unlucky to pick up a couple of illnesses post xmas. He started the season quite well.
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  #283  
Old 02-10-13, 18:19
dirkprovin dirkprovin is offline
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Mens race: Svendsen make a tactical call that almost exploded in his race but Fourcade made a fatal mistake looking left a few metres short of the line and in effect brought about his own stumble. A well deserved bronze for Shipulin who is currently putting himself in the postition of being the man most likely to pounce should either of the Big Two falter or "take each other out" physically or tactically. Sound performances from Malyshko (2 good comeback races after blowing the mixed relay); Fak and Landertinger.

Men's relay prospects: Think NOR have to include O-E as his performances here have merited such. They look strong but not overwhelming and L'Abee Lund will have to step up. RUS looking very very strong but Ustygov's proclivity to implode under pressure on the standing shoot is a worry. FRA looks formidable for 2 legs with MF, Bouef & Beatrix but SF's form a concern. GER will require a major step up AND penalty laps from at least 2 of the above to medal. SWE may be competitive for 3 runners but they just haven't a 4th man of requisite standard. ITA looks the only other plausible medal hope but again would require major balls ups from those ahead. Others like CZE/USA/UKR/SLO/SWI may have a couple of runners capable of being there with the top teams but not the full quota.

Women's: Berger again shows why she'll be the overall champ this year. Feel very much for Zaitseva who WAS robbed of a medal (quite possibly silver) by a kamikaze move by Flatland. I like Flatland (and consider her to still be the 2nd best NOR woman) but it was a misjudged move which cost her what would've been a well deserved medal and ruined the chances of Zaitseva. Palka was in the fortunate position of being able to cash in but she put in a high class performance in her own right .... and her performances this year have merited a due reward. Pidrushina looks to be running out of juice but another strong performace.

Gossner ? Maybe question of form to a degree (with 6 misses she was still within 1.55) but maybe more to do with "the head". Makkarainen missed one on each shoot and still top 10 within 1.15. Story of her season = shoot straight or even minimal error and she's fast enough to win or podium at min but too many loose shots. Domracheva shot the same and moved 20+ places forward from her start but same story for this season as Kaisa.

Woman's relay: Hopefully the crash hasnt knocked Flatland around mentally as her return to the top now means NOR has 3 runners who can legitimately run at the front (and Horn's steady consistent progress this season means they no longer have to worry about massive fallaways on yr weakest leg. Hope RUS medals at minimum as it would be an outrage to see Zaitseva leave these championships without at least one medal. Vilukhina looks a tick off the v fastest in ski form but as long as she, Glazyrina and Shumilova minimise their misses, they should podium at least. FRA - may podium but will need to shoot as close to 100% and rely on penalty laps to win and medals are no cert.

GER - Henkel and Hildebrandt should be solid but Horchler has been "off". To medal, they will rely on mistakes .... and a major rewire of Miri. Bring in at least one youngster = a definite gamble but maybe might spark something in what has been a rather flat outfit. POL - definite medal chance on ski speed if 1-2 higher fancies falter. UKR - Pidrushina and Vita look "on" but Valj "well off" Dzhyma has been a pleasant surprise this season. BLR - rough outside chance if first 3 leave Domracheva in with a medal chance going into the last leg. Skardino has been good this year, Kalinchik solid but Duberazava hasn't progressed as one might've expected after some good results last season

Last edited by dirkprovin; 02-10-13 at 18:23.
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  #284  
Old 02-13-13, 19:00
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How good is Berger.. sick.
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  #285  
Old 02-13-13, 20:12
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You think Fourcade & Svendsen are getting predictable? Tora Berger is just unstoppable this season, and the only people who've really threatened her are the ones who you can bank will shoot worse than she does in an Individual - Miri, Dasha and Kaisa. And so it was today, with all 3 within 10 seconds at the top of the ski times list, but Miri missed 6 times, Mäkäräinen did somewhat better with 3 misses, while Dasha had outdone Kaisa by shooting 1, recovering to 14/20 after a chronic 1/5 at the first prone. The only other person who could have beaten Berger today (she was the 5th fastest skier and shot 20/20 because, well, that's what she does: be the best) was Kuzmina; she skied 18" faster than Berger (still 30" off Mäkäräinen, mind) but 2 misses dropped her out of the medals. Germany's tournament is finally off the mark, and who else would it be but Andrea Henkel, the hands they always turn to in times of need? Andrea's been the steady, experienced hand in an inexperienced women's team this year, the perfect counter to the super-exciting but inconsistent Gößner at the head of the team, giving them consistent good results without electrifying the field. She showed great form to come from 33rd to 6th in the Pursuit after a disappointing sprint, having the best isolated pursuit time. Now, however, she isn't starting with a heavy disadvantage and medalled accordingly. Perfect shooting alone, however, isn't enough to beat Berger, for she has consistently been 4th or 5th best on the skis all season, occasionally higher, and Henkel could only manage a time 52" behind the Norwegian. The third podium spot was filled by Valj Semerenko, because a) the Ukrainians have timed their peak perfectly - Vita was 5th as well, but 40 seconds slower than her twin - and b) Vita has a couple of WM medals already, Valj didn't have any until today. She was one of the first people of all to go, as well, so it was a long and nerve-wracking wait for her medal to be confirmed, and she sat on the top step for a long time too (Berger and Henkel set off #s 62 and 71). Zaitseva was close but no cigar yet again, with 2 misses in the first prone, then salvaging a 6th place by going clear at the other 3.

The French women are still trying hard to get something out of these championships; Dorin once again close, she'd have had the silver if she shot clear, but 2 misses drop her down, while Brunet DID get 20/20 but was a painful 4 minutes down on Berger's time. China's Yan Zhang is worth keeping an eye on though - as well as a top pursuit in Oberhof, the 20-year-old Chinese shot 19/20 and finished a more than respectable 16th today, within 40 seconds of Dzhyma, Vítková and even Vilukhina (!) with the same shooting record. After a lot of progress a few years ago it seemed the Chinese had fallen back into the lower rankings, but they clearly do still have some prospects to move forward. She took some impressive scalps even without the shooting record today, finishing well ahead of Nadine Horchler with the same shooting record, and more than her miss quotient ahead of Skardino. Obviously the poor shooting displays from Miri and Dasha put them down the field (35th and 33rd respectively). Others who'll be disappointed with their day include Franzi Hildebrand (touted as a potential medal winner due to strong Individual performances in the past, she shot perfectly in prone but 5 misses in stand sent her tumbling down the order), Synnøve Solemdal (who shot 14/20 like Domracheva and Gößner but is nearly 2 and a half minutes behind them, and while they are another level in skiing performance on form, Solemdal has regularly been, along with Berger, one of the strongest performers beside them), Ann Kristin Flatland (who with 3 misses is over 6 minutes back, clearly the accident on Sunday may have affected her either mentally, physically or both) and Nastassia Dubarezava, who missed 4 in the first two shooting rounds and then failed to finish, but I don't know why. She showed a lot of promise last year, but it seems this year her shooting performance has completely collapsed, especially since the cross-firing incident at Pokljuka and failing to qualify for the pursuit. Certainly last year the Skardino-Kalin'chik-Dubarezava-Domracheva tandem for Belarus could compete for the podium in any race, by getting to leg 4 within a couple of minutes and letting Darya turn on the turbos admittedly, but this year that has seemed a long way away.

So what does this mean for the relays?

Well, Ukraine must feel fairly confident, with Pidhrushna and both Semerenkos very strong at present. Dzhyma hasn't been weak, but she'll be the weakest part of the team. Russia must feel fairly comfortable as well, with Zaitseva on top form and Vilukhina reliable. Glazyrina was good today, but they are lacking in ski speed, even with Zaitseva putting in easily her best ski times of the season here in Nové Město. France have a very stable and reliable team, but they will have to rely on others making mistakes; Bescond can be quick but is the least reliable of the quartet with the rifle, and Dorin is far quicker than she used to be but still a level below the hares if the pressure is on. Boilley has been quick in relays (see Ruhpolding, where she was 2nd quickest overall, following Gößner all the way around admittedly) but not often enough to be confident, and Brunet's ski speed has been poor all year. Germany may feel a bit more confident in Miri's skiing than they were after the Mixed Relay, but the 2km-Strecke is very light and she hasn't been good on it, whereas on the longer, harder courses she's made much better time. Henkel is as Henkel does, Franzi will hopefully bounce back from today's disappointment, and her ski speed has been vastly improved recently, but Horchler's lack of speed and form-straight after a really impressive Antholz-is a major worry for them, especially as the only backup they've brought to the Championships is Laura Dahlmeier, who may be one of the brightest prospects in the sport, but who has also never started a race at the World Cup level. Norway are surprisingly low down the prospects list too; obviously a clearly on-form and motivated Tora Berger is a weapon like pretty much no other, but if Flatland is suffering, then they only have an out-of-form Solemdal, a talented but not yet complete Fanny Horn and the amazingly promising but inexperienced Hilde Fenne (who may be tired after a long season. Certainly her ski speed was pretty good today, but 8 misses can't be spun any positive way really). The easier 2km course may play into their hands with Flatland however, as opposed to the longer, tougher course used today. Beyond these "big" nations, there are obviously other options. Poland have been pretty strong all season, and fell at the last hurdle going for the podium in Antholz. Gwizdoń is as fast as she's ever been, Nowakowska will be motivated to atone for that botch at Antholz, Cyl and Hojnisz will compete for the fourth slot and Krystyna Pałka has been Bärenstark at these championships. And, of course, the hosts. Soukalová and Vítková can be competitive at most races, especially with comparatively easy skiing routes to minimise the losses there (more with Vítková than Soukalová admittedly) while any of the options they have for the other slots will be motivated to perform in front of the home audience.

Finally, tomorrow's men's Individual. Some strong contenders going early, with Erik Lesser leading off (remember, for all his meltdowns since, he was on the podium the last time an Individual was held on the World Cup), reigning champ Jakov Fak going at 6, Ustyugov at 8, Hofer 10, Landertinger - on the podium in the Östersund Individual - 11, Bjørndalen 14, Leguellec 15 and Alexis Bœuf 17. Group 2 (21-40) is the strongest by far, however, with a number of key figures. Anton Shipulin goes at 25 and will be followed by Andi Birnbacher, who in turn will be followed by Fredrik Lindström (who will hope to replicate that final lap speed from Saturday's sprint). Martin Fourcade, who won in Östersund of course (starting his reign in the yellow bib that may go - like Berger - from start to finish of the World Cup season) will go at 29, before a period of relative calm until his mortal rival Svendsen sets off at 40. Group 3 is comparatively benign, with Mořavec at 42 and Bø at 57 the main attractions. There are plenty to keep an eye on in the later numbers, though: Bergman goes at 72, followed by Peiffer, Florian Graf is at 81, and Andrei Makoveev, who was on the podium at all Individuals in 2011-12 except the World Championships - and that because he was inexplicably left off the team for an injured Ustyugov - goes at 89 and while he's not had the best of seasons, he can shoot well, he's been on the podium before this season and, well, it would be a lot less surprising than Maxim Maksimov's 2011 medal. Friedrich Pinter goes at 95, the 34-year-old having been rejuvenated this season, while the elder Fourcade, whose ski form has been variable at these tournaments, goes at 107 followed by local hero Michal Šlesingr. The last real, genuine threat to go is as late as 119 - Daniel Mesotitsch. The Austrian has spent much of the season on the IBU Cup, but he podiumed the sprint in Antholz when called up, he's capable of going 20/20, and he has previous in the Individual as well.
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  #286  
Old 02-15-13, 19:39
TomasC TomasC is offline
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Great racing in womens' relay today. Tora the machine as always and Ukrainian women fulfilled the potential. The highlight of the evening for me was the performance of Laura Dahlmeier - steadily approaching the front, cold-blooded shooting and finally dropped Valj Semerenko in the battle for first place in her leg. Very promising. Pity the Germans didn't get a medal.
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  #287  
Old 02-15-13, 20:31
dirkprovin dirkprovin is offline
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Great final leg by Berger (how she would wish she could bottle her form from these Championships) to pull away to win gold. UKR were steady throughout and immense credit to all four ITA runners for hanging in under WChamp pressure to medal.

Having said that, I feel a critical factor was the inexplicable ineptitude of RUS's Shumilova on the 3rd leg; particularly on the circuit between prone & standing shoots. Instead of taking the front and pushing a harder place; she just sat in behind the tame pace of the lesser members of the lead trio thus allowing the likes of Dahlmeier and Solemdal to close up on that one circuit .... and two major competitors back into the medal race in a far easier fashion than should be expected at this level.
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  #288  
Old 02-16-13, 00:00
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Libertine Seguros Libertine Seguros is offline
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Berger won't need to bottle this form as long as her main competitors are competitors as inconsistent as Mäkäräinen, Domracheva and Gössner. Those are the only ones who can outpace her, and her shooting is so much better than theirs that it's not funny.

Dahlmeier will be a star, little doubt about it. Fenne too, even despite the off day today. Product of the same Mittenwald/Kaltenbrunn background as Glagow, Neuner and Gössner (Dahlmeier's from Partenkirchen, Glagow and Gössner from Garmisch and Neuner from Wallgau, a village a few kilometres outside the Garmisch-Partenkirchen urban area but still inside its municipality). Maybe more Glagow about her than Neuner/Gössner, but very impressed with how she dealt with the pressure on her first race as a senior. And even hanging with Valj Semerenko would have been promising enough, let alone taking the bull by the horns like that. She doesn't shoot super-quick, certainly today's shooting performance was quicker than anticipated (though it was around the pace of the top guns on leg 4, she was quicker than all of her opponents on the range in leg 3). Makes me wonder for when Franziska Preuß makes it to the World Cup, since she shoots like Tora Berger in stand.

Shumilova really did have an off-day. She lost 40" to Marie-Laure Brunet - in her current form - on the skis. That's really surprising. But then, while I've been tearing my hair out about the German underperformance at these Championships, the Russians have had similar issues, if not worse given that they now only have a bronze to their name as against Germany's silver. This was one of those odd relays that's won by half the team to salvage the other half. It wasn't as much of a team effort as the Germans a year ago, but it certainly wasn't as much of an individual effort as the Germans two years ago, where while Bachmann was ecstatic and Miri was bawling her eyes out, Henkel looked almost embarrassed at how she was going to pick up a relay gold where all four medals were probably owed to Neuner.
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  #289  
Old 02-16-13, 23:30
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Man, CJ Bergman's form is just non-existent. Shooting is rubbish and skiing rubbish. Really sad. But he was far from alone to crack in the shooting discipline. Lesser and Garanichev had horrible standing shootings. However, there was no way Norway was going to lose that. The old man Ole Einar still has some form, B was epic in shooting and skiing and Emil was back to his regular self after missing the individual race due to a minor illness.

Something should be said about the shooting too, and that was Arwidson's standing shooting - just as quick as B. Also, Krcmar really surprised me positively in the shooting. The Czechs could have had a real shot at a medal, hadn't there been a few misses.


Also, Poltoranin - if he doesn't end up racking up some medals in Val di Fiemme I would be very surprised. It was sad that Jnsson cracked his pole and couldn't get to the final, he might have been the only one to give Poltoranin a real fight for the win. Cologna had nothing there, it was a Bjrn Lind in Otep-style victory.
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  #290  
Old 02-17-13, 00:36
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I was really sad for Lesser though. I mean, Norway dropped 5 shots all race. So did Germany, but they were all in the same shooting so they had two loops to do. Take two penalty loops off the time and you have the Germans less than 40" back on the same shooting record, which, given the comparative lack of form as opposed to the dominant Norwegians, is pretty good. Fourcade storming on the last lap though, no way he was being denied adding to his silver collection.

This tournament has, if I'm honest, produced some really good races but for the most part really boring, predictable results. Always Svendsen and Fourcade, always Tora. The only 'surprise' results you could say were Pałka's pursuit silver, Burke's individual and maybe Pidhrushna's gold. I know that this is more or less where we stand when all of Germany (except Henkel) and all of Russia (except Zaitseva) underperform (seriously, I thought the Germans would be at panic stations, it must be worse in the Russian camp now, with so many prospects and only one bronze to show for it) but it's pretty frustrating because they're SO far ahead of the competition. Last year's races were much more open (at the Worlds at least - I'm aware that there was a really surprisingly low number of podium athletes in the 2011-12 season).

Oh well, with the peaking heading back down again we should at least get some interesting results in the remaining World Cups. Seems very odd to look back on this season and remember that at Östersund Miriam Gößner was still just a prospect for the future, Arnd Peiffer looked like outperforming his previous 2 seasons, Svendsen looked off the pace, Gabriela Soukalová was an unheralded nobody, everybody thought Domracheva was going to waltz away with the crystal globe and Jean-Philippe Leguellec won the sprint.
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