a tad strange, but otherwise interesting sprints in toblah..the 2 biggest surprises came from the russ. 1st it was ustiougov who did not even qualify and then matveva beating falla fair and square for the gold.
looking at his time, ustiougov probably fell in the qualls or had a mechanical. too bad, b/c i expected him to wipe out the field. while originally not planned, he may now be entered for a team sprint tomorrow. i hope so. as to falla vs. matveva, it was interesting to see that they both ran in the same heats where falla took a commanding win except the final. looks like falla is either tired or the work the russ is doing with cramer is paying off.
...in men, the norwegians had the cream of their sprinting team. they must earn the spot on their world team. so they competed hard. indeed, 3 of the 6 in the final were norges. still, almost to the last 200 m it looked like they all may skip the podium with pelle and hamilton stretching the field. in the end, skar passed hamilton by millimiters and pelle got winded from leading too much and partaking in late QF heats...
brilliant race from hamilton who we all know can steal a sprint from anyone on his day.
lots of falls when the course was quite wide and not all that technical.
Ustiugov fell. Pity for him. It's no guarantee he would have won, particularly after the exertions of the tour and having to go up against fresh sprinters. Was Harvey the only other tour finisher that raced today? Still, I suspect many had placed their bets on Ustiugov. I think testing to see how his fitness would hold after the tour and closing the gap the gap to Sundby in the overall WC was what he and the coaches were probably looking for. That was an opportunity lost. Sundby will in all likelihood race next weekend in Sweden and will be taking points, perhaps even winning, while Ustiugov will stay in Toblach and train, before heading to Norwegian nationals. That should be interesting, going up against the best of the best in Norway.
Who will the Norwegians take for the sprint in Lahti? My guess is that Northug, being the defending champ is in, then Krogh, Klaebo, Skar (a win today and a podium in Davos last month) aaaaand the last spot (Norway will have 5 spots as Northug is def. champ) will be an interesting fight. Golberg? Taugboel? Iversen? Hattestad? Brandsdal? Fossli?
This sort of course suits Simi Hamilton to a T. Not hard, lot's of gliding, V2 alternate/V2 skiing and drafting comes into play and he's very good at that. Two of his problems in the past were A.) Simply not being serious enough about training and staying fit all year, which also saw him getting sick and B.) Not being aggressive enough during the heats. Now that he's improved upon both of those aspects, he's showing his potential. I think he is a dark horse for Lahti for sure. The course is longer and more challenging, but I think he'll be top 10 there, at least.
The women's race was great. Matveeva is a bit like Hamilton in the way she skis. Very smooth and deceptive, particularly in the finish. Falla had the tempo but ran out of gas slightly in the closing meters and Matveeva simply skied through. The Russian women might not have many opportunities for medals in Lahti, but if there is one, Matveeva is definitely it. The other chances lie with Tchekaleva in the distance events, the relay and the team sprint. Will be interesting to see how their U23 women do over there. Belorukova made the heats again today, but didn't have good skis and on that type of course, you don't stand a chance with less than optimal glide.
Question? How many skiers will be in S. Korea in three weeks? Norwegian nationals will take place around this time, so too the world juniors and U23's in Park City, USA (site of the 2002 olympics) and only a week after that, there is the Otepaa WC and days later is Lahti. I can't see too many top skiers heading to Asia.