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Doping in XC skiing

Page 28 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.
May 23, 2010
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Pazuzu said:
Maybe I'm naive, but I tend to belive Daehlie, Alsgaard & the rest were able to be successful skiing paniagua. Through better ski prep, superior technique, smart altitude training, and use of 'altitude tents' (which was allowable) - they were able to compete successfully against their doped competitors.

Keep in mind Tyler Hamilton stated that in the EPO era it was still possible for clean riders to beat doped riders in one day classic events. But it was the grand tours - day after day of grinding it out - that it was impossible for a clean rider to beat his doped competitors. Back in the 90s then there was no 'Tour de Ski' as there is now.

In cycling, team tactics, drafting and flat courses allow riders who may not have the highest V02Max to win. Mike Cavendish and Thor Hushovd are both world champions, yet get dropped from the lead group on all mountain stages.

Cross-country skiing places a higher demand on V02Max than other sports due to the use of both arms & legs - and the time-trial (interval start) format used in the 1990's meant you had to go 100% from the get-go. The easiest way to get your V02Max up? More red blood cells. Easiest way to do that? EPO.

Altitude tents are still allowed and the latest research suggests it will yield only minimal benefits - and has several drawbacks: sleep / rest is affected and short stays in altitude or altitude tents will actually lower performance as the body's first reaction is to increase Hb by decreasing plasma. To raise your blood values significantly enough to make a difference in performance requires a permanent stay of 3 weeks or more in altitude.
 
May 23, 2010
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Cloxxki said:
Normally, the fastest biathlete can match and beat the fast XC specialists in skating. Martin Fourcade was no-where close recently in the XC WC 15km. Interesting or coincidence? He did win at the next biathlon WC.

I can't get over the relative improvement by the American ski girls. It's more than a few percent. More than a boost of confidence. More than an added year of experience. More than a new training method. More than all combined.

Some interesting changes between countries year-on-year so far. Russian men outstanding, women much less so.

There are only a few biathlon skiers who've won world cups in cross-country skiing - Ole Einar Bjorndalen, Lars Berger and Ronny Hafsaas, and each just once despite numerous attempts (all are Norwegians).

The American women are indeed the one big surprise this year - although Kikkan Randall has been up there before. Jessie Diggins had good results last year. Liz Stephen has been in the top 20 before. Holly Brooks has held promise for years but has had some injuries and illnesses. I am always a skeptic for unusual performances, but the American women are not beating everyone else and have demonstrated talent before - so it's plausible their success is achieved clean.

The Russians are a different case. They had 5 skiers in the top 10 for the overall in Kuusamo mini-tour. Too good to be achieved clean in the much more competitive men's division. We know Russians are EPO experts and it's educated speculation to suggest that they had been micro-dosing for the last couple of weeks leading to the Gallivare & Kuusamo world cups - it's easy to bring supplies across the border from Russia without much risk to get caught. I'd predict entirely different set of skiers to be on top at the Canadian world cups coming up next.
 
Pazuzu said:
Maybe I'm naive, but I tend to belive Daehlie, Alsgaard & the rest were able to be successful skiing paniagua. Through better ski prep, superior technique, smart altitude training, and use of 'altitude tents' (which was allowable) - they were able to compete successfully against their doped competitors.

Keep in mind Tyler Hamilton stated that in the EPO era it was still possible for clean riders to beat doped riders in one day classic events. But it was the grand tours - day after day of grinding it out - that it was impossible for a clean rider to beat his doped competitors. Back in the 90s then there was no 'Tour de Ski' as there is now.

Maybe, most monument winners lists look as disgraced as GTs. Tactics are more of a factor though so you can get lucky and win one.
 
Sep 25, 2009
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Pazuzu said:
Maybe I'm naive, but I tend to belive Daehlie, Alsgaard & the rest were able to be successful skiing paniagua. Through better ski prep, superior technique, smart altitude training, and use of 'altitude tents' (which was allowable) - they were able to compete successfully against their doped competitors.
i posted earlier in the thread about the ski prep and such. it was a genuine inquiry of a scientist who happened to be a life-long xc fan and, in fact, be very competitive at that. to spare you digging, i don't find those factors you listed unrealistic. that said, i find them unlikely affecting the racing outcomes at the highest level for nearly a decade time after time.

at the level we are talking about, as mentioned so many times by so many smart people - one can not keep a consistently winning ski prep/waxing, training, smart/unique technique (whatever) secret for a decade. no way.

Keep in mind Tyler Hamilton stated that in the EPO era it was still possible for clean riders to beat doped riders in one day classic events.
i liked his book and i read some passages twice...does not mean he should be taken uncritically.

for example, to directly contradict your point, tyler himself described in detail how he he transfused a full unit of packed blood cells for a special one-day race... and he happened to win it.

blood doping in the xc skiing has at least equal, if not larger, performance-enhancing effect.

i am on the record of being very circumspect and reserved when others accused norges of outright cheating, but let's not be silly when looking at the bigger picture.
 
Mar 13, 2009
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python said:
at the level we are talking about, as mentioned so many times by so many smart people - one can not keep a consistently winning ski prep/waxing, training, smart/unique technique (whatever) secret for a decade. no way.

the free market equilibrium, if one has the elixir, or some device for improving the performance, the market (competition) seeks to ameliorate/nullify via adoption of said technique.

this tends to destroy the justifications from Tour winning cyclists, speaking to the press on their avenues to performance improvement, relative to their competition.

if it is a performance advantage, one has to keep shtum. But like Python says, chances these are hidden for a decade, few, minute, not realistic.

chances are the leader of the pack are adopting the techniques of the pack. statistics and social psychology would assert so. Plus, like my sig says, all science is but a rounding error, to another sub-domain of science, pharmacology.
 
Apr 29, 2011
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Tubeless said:
And these were the reasons given for Lance's dominance at his 7 tour wins:

1. Unique physiology, top junior racer, high natural VO2Max
2. Best support system around, singular focus on winning TdF
3. Countless hours in the wind tunnel, superior riding position
4. Altitude training in the rockies, alps, pyrenees
5. Best training program designed by famous coach Chris Carmichael

And these unique advantages that were only available to Lance gave him the edge he needed to beat everyone else in top 10 in the mountains and time trials - even though each and every rival was doped to the max with EPO, HgH, Testosterone and blood transfusions.

Have you read Tyler's book? EPO alone was known to give you an advantage of up to 5-7% in actual time improvement on the mountains.

Cycling has started to face its dark past with an admission that things weren't quite what it seemed from circa 1992 to 2006. It's sad to see that cross-country skiing in a certain Scandinavian country is still in total denial.

Today's situation is different and I am willing to believe that world cup races are being won clean. There's still doping happening, but the better testing and monitoring and the Hb limit enforcement is keeping things more in check. This was not the case during the wild 1990's.

It didn't start with EPO. Finns, Russians and later on the Italians had a blood doping program up and running for two decades. Why don’t you put money a TdF winner riding on off-road tires, some friction – no problem . Next you aim to win F1 with a Skoda Octavia too – a car is a car.
 
Cloxxki said:
Normally, the fastest biathlete can match and beat the fast XC specialists in skating. Martin Fourcade was no-where close recently in the XC WC 15km. Interesting or coincidence? He did win at the next biathlon WC.

I can't get over the relative improvement by the American ski girls. It's more than a few percent. More than a boost of confidence. More than an added year of experience. More than a new training method. More than all combined.

Some interesting changes between countries year-on-year so far. Russian men outstanding, women much less so.

IBU introduced this HGH mapping/testing for this season. Does Fis have this already, too?
I know, one world cup is not really enough for a judgement, however, there are some interesting observations.
The field is a lot closer together in terms of running, especially in te womens field. Domracheva is by far not as dominat as she was last year. In the sprint there were like 20 athletes within 40 seconds!!!!
That's really astonishing compared to last year. Let's watch out for the ext World Cups if this trend is continuing!
 
Bavarianrider said:
IBU introduced this HGH mapping/testing for this season. Does Fis have this already, too?
I know, one world cup is not really enough for a judgement, however, there are some interesting observations.
The field is a lot closer together in terms of running, especially in te womens field. Domracheva is by far not as dominat as she was last year. In the sprint there were like 20 athletes within 40 seconds!!!!
That's really astonishing compared to last year. Let's watch out for the ext World Cups if this trend is continuing!

Some skiers who used to set best ski times (over the past years, all German girls have done that) are off the pace. We saw Hauswald, inititally struggling to set decent ski speeds, retire when occasionally the fastest of them all.
Domracheva, I have little reason to doubt. Apart from me being totally in love with her (full disclosure), her dominant ski technique does lend great credibility (gotta love the soul of such grace). Everyone in XC and Biathlon wants to ski like she does. Makes Lars Berger look stiff on his feet. She doesn't come from out of nowhere either, she was a dominant kid skier in Russia before moving back to Belarus. Moving life story (find her long video online)
Her ski style is not strength based, although she's worked on that a bit. She looks like the typical skinny Russian girl (bikini pictures online, sigh..), whereas Bjoergen looks like a full-on body builder exploding out of her silly looking dresses.
In XC, guys who've won 15k world in the past, can be minutes off the pace.
In Biathlon, some dominant skiers have been kept off WC teams, down to IBU cup.

Fourcade when on form has that super springy agressive uphill ski style that takes huge amounts of energy, and is not supposed to be good for biathletes (heavy rifle on back, no belly strap). Perhaps he is an interval-specific guy, actually needing the shootin breaks to keep good pace. I know from my own experience in MTB that courses with a very specific amount of recovery between hard steep climbs would make me float to the top. Too little recovery and I'd be slow, too much recovery and the others would be too fast for me.

It was good to see Northug being out-double poled to the line, albeit after overdoing it on the last climb. The Russian sprinters get some credibility from not even trying to perform well in long distance races, they are specialists. Northug also wins 50k's and has ambition in 90k's. Should not be possible in competitive sports, even if he's a twice a century talent.
 
Tubeless said:
The Russians are a different case. They had 5 skiers in the top 10 for the overall in Kuusamo mini-tour. Too good to be achieved clean in the much more competitive men's division. We know Russians are EPO experts and it's educated speculation to suggest that they had been micro-dosing for the last couple of weeks leading to the Gallivare & Kuusamo world cups - it's easy to bring supplies across the border from Russia without much risk to get caught. I'd predict entirely different set of skiers to be on top at the Canadian world cups coming up next.
Yes, XC Russian hardly even try to pretend.

In Biathlon though, some Russian ladies are several minutes off the pace. Russia as a sports country has a bad reputation (I think they are just easier to catch, not dirtier), but not seem to be dirty.
 
Jun 21, 2009
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Tubeless said:
Altitude tents are still allowed

good post, just wanted to point out that altitude tents are not allowed to be used by Norwegian athletes

Tubeless said:
I'd predict entirely different set of skiers to be on top at the Canadian world cups coming up next.

I'm afraid none of the top boys will bother heading over to Quebec and Canmore. So yes, the result lists will look entirely different.
 
Apr 29, 2011
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Cloxxki said:
It was good to see Northug being out-double poled to the line, albeit after overdoing it on the last climb. The Russian sprinters get some credibility from not even trying to perform well in long distance races, they are specialists. Northug also wins 50k's and has ambition in 90k's. Should not be possible in competitive sports, even if he's a twice a century talent.

If you had any knowlegde you should know that most sprinters do the 50 km classic style better than the 15 km any style. Svartedal, Hetland etc
If you think XC sprinters are like track'n field sprinters you're mistaken.
 
May 23, 2010
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Velo1ticker said:
If you had any knowlegde you should know that most sprinters do the 50 km classic style better than the 15 km any style. Svartedal, Hetland etc
If you think XC sprinters are like track'n field sprinters you're mistaken.

With an average course length of approximately 2-3 minutes, the cross-country skiing sprint discipline is more like a 1000 meter track event - and in fact more endurance-focused because to win you'll have to do what amounts to an 4x1000 meter interval workout.
 
May 23, 2010
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Cloxxki said:
Yes, XC Russian hardly even try to pretend.

In Biathlon though, some Russian ladies are several minutes off the pace. Russia as a sports country has a bad reputation (I think they are just easier to catch, not dirtier), but not seem to be dirty.

The Russian team has more internal competition that most national teams - and many opportunists along the way have tried to get nominated for the traveling team and access to Lukoil bonuses by doing "all they can" to do well. There's plenty of friendly doctors willing to assist for a small fee.

The Russian team is on notice from the FIS to keep itself clean - they were very close to being dropped from the world cup for too many positives after the 2009-2010 season.

http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/news/fisnews/fisnews.html?actu_id_444=3273&actu_page_444=6

The Russian coaches are also under tremendous pressure to get ready for Sochi 2014 and will lose their jobs unless they find the winning formula.

When you put the above 2 factors together, the logical end results is that there's tight internal testing to ensure no one gets caught by FIS. But they know from past experience that the only way to get medals is to do what they've always done.

At the Vancouver 2010 games, who thinks the 2 Russians who won the classic sprint by a mile were clean? The pattern there was obvious - no one dared to dope while at the games, so the unusual performances all happened on the athlete's first race.
 
Tubeless said:
With an average course length of approximately 2-3 minutes, the cross-country skiing sprint discipline is more like a 1000 meter track event - and in fact more endurance-focused because to win you'll have to do what amounts to an 4x1000 meter interval workout.

You mean that the 50k is a wheelsucker event much like a typical cycling race? Yeah, I agree. If the whole pack is still together after 40+km while tehre are significant differences in ~20k solo performance, that will favor sprinters.
 
Mar 4, 2010
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Bavarianrider said:
IBU introduced this HGH mapping/testing for this season. Does Fis have this already, too?
I know, one world cup is not really enough for a judgement, however, there are some interesting observations.
The field is a lot closer together in terms of running, especially in te womens field. Domracheva is by far not as dominat as she was last year. In the sprint there were like 20 athletes within 40 seconds!!!!
That's really astonishing compared to last year. Let's watch out for the ext World Cups if this trend is continuing!

I don't think course time differences were unusually small in the pursuit and individual, so maybe the sprint was just a one off?

Östersund Women's Pursuit analysis
http://realbiathlon.blogspot.se/2012/12/ostersund-womens-pursuit-analysis.html

Östersund Women's Individual analysis
http://realbiathlon.blogspot.se/2012/11/ostersund-womens-individual-analysis.html

Cloxxki said:
Domracheva, I have little reason to doubt. Apart from me being totally in love with her (full disclosure), her dominant ski technique does lend great credibility (gotta love the soul of such grace). Everyone in XC and Biathlon wants to ski like she does. Makes Lars Berger look stiff on his feet. She doesn't come from out of nowhere either, she was a dominant kid skier in Russia before moving back to Belarus. Moving life story (find her long video online)

But she was pretty far from being a dominant junior skier internationally.

2006 Junior (U-21) World Championships - JUNIOR WOMEN 7.5 km SPRINT

Course times:

1. NEUNER Magdalena 18:23.8 (Born 1987)
2. BALATKOVA Michaela +47.6s +4.3% (1985)
3. BLONDEAU Marion +52.0s +4.7% (1986)
4. BONNEVIE-SVENDSEN Julie +1:08.4s +6.2% (1987)
5. SLEPTSOVA Svetlana +1:10.6s +6.4% (1986)
6. HOLMA Johanna +1:15.8s +6.8% (1985)
7. HENNECKE Carolin +1:17.7s +7.0% (1986)
8. DOMRACHEVA Darya +1:22.3s +7.4% (1986)
9. MÜLLER Stephanie +1:25.9s +7.8% (1985)
10. VITKOVA Veronika +1:27.8s +7.9% (1988)

13. HILDEBRAND Franziska +1:46.5s +9.6% (1987)
14. SEMERENKO Vita +1:49.4s +9.9% (1986)

27. DORIN Marie +2:29.8s +13.5% (1986)

She does have brilliant technique, however.

Tubeless said:
At the Vancouver 2010 games, who thinks the 2 Russians who won the classic sprint by a mile were clean? The pattern there was obvious - no one dared to dope while at the games, so the unusual performances all happened on the athlete's first race.

Smigun :D
 
May 23, 2010
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Cloxxki said:
You mean that the 50k is a wheelsucker event much like a typical cycling race? Yeah, I agree. If the whole pack is still together after 40+km while tehre are significant differences in ~20k solo performance, that will favor sprinters.

In general, mass start xc-ski races have become like bike races. Increased speeds due to technique / skis / wax development have made the drafting benefit more significant. At an average speed of 25 km/hour is still not quite the same as cycling's 40 km/hour but closer.

It still takes top fitness and a high V02Max to stay in the lead group due to the hilly terrain required of world cup courses - but it's clear the best interval-start racer is often no longer the winner in mass starts.

Best example of this was at the 50 km classic race at the 2010 Vancouver games. A clearly doped-up Andrus Veerpalu of Estonia arrived to the site just 3 days before the event, with a bag of fresh blood in his veins (supplied just before flying over), and the timing required to do this meant that he even skipped participating in the 4x10 km relay event. Veerpalu had consistently won most previous interval start classic races at World Champs and Olympics - yet could muster only 6th place as he has zero sprint in his legs due to the mass start format of this race.
 
May 23, 2010
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sulgpallur said:
What was wrong with Šmigun, she had much better years than 2010 Torino?

Smigun's comeback for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics was clearly doping-assisted. Similar to Veerpalu, she arrived late to the site and got silver at the opening 10km Freestyle event - and faded badly thereafter. An educated guess is that she visited her family doctor just before flying over and received a fresh supply of red blood cells to take to the games with her.

http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/610.html?sector=CC&raceid=16234

Due to the blood profiling, the size of the blood-doping blood bags has been reduced in size from 500 ml to about half not to trigger any limits - and hence its effectiveness has also dropped from a week or more to just 3-5 days. You can have one good race and a guarantee of not getting caught. In Olympics, that's enough to make you a lasting legend.

Veerpalu was caught the following year (tested positive for HgH; still no test for autologous blood doping) - Smigun retired and is officially considered a "clean" athlete.
 
Tyler'sTwin said:
I don't think course time differences were unusually small in the pursuit and individual, so maybe the sprint was just a one off?

Östersund Women's Pursuit analysis
http://realbiathlon.blogspot.se/2012/12/ostersund-womens-pursuit-analysis.html

Östersund Women's Individual analysis
http://realbiathlon.blogspot.se/2012/11/ostersund-womens-individual-analysis.html



But she was pretty far from being a dominant junior skier internationally.

2006 Junior (U-21) World Championships - JUNIOR WOMEN 7.5 km SPRINT

Course times:

1. NEUNER Magdalena 18:23.8 (Born 1987)
2. BALATKOVA Michaela +47.6s +4.3% (1985)
3. BLONDEAU Marion +52.0s +4.7% (1986)
4. BONNEVIE-SVENDSEN Julie +1:08.4s +6.2% (1987)
5. SLEPTSOVA Svetlana +1:10.6s +6.4% (1986)
6. HOLMA Johanna +1:15.8s +6.8% (1985)
7. HENNECKE Carolin +1:17.7s +7.0% (1986)
8. DOMRACHEVA Darya +1:22.3s +7.4% (1986)
9. MÜLLER Stephanie +1:25.9s +7.8% (1985)
10. VITKOVA Veronika +1:27.8s +7.9% (1988)

13. HILDEBRAND Franziska +1:46.5s +9.6% (1987)
14. SEMERENKO Vita +1:49.4s +9.9% (1986)

27. DORIN Marie +2:29.8s +13.5% (1986)

She does have brilliant technique, however.



Smigun :D

She came to the top level quick but inconsistent. In 2010-11 she got chased down on the final lap of the pursuit in Antholz by Marie-Laure Brunet! However, she has been pretty much the quickest skier, Neuner-adjusted, for the last year and a bit.

However, those statistics show her to be the third fastest woman, on top of which she has improved her average time taken in the range by a few seconds, so it could just be that she's been working on her shooting and is not in top skiing form yet. After all, the only people that skied faster than her were Mäkäräinen, who has been one of the fastest skiers for the last two years and had time to make up after poor shooting performances, and Miriam Gößner, for whom skiing super fast and firing the gun off in random directions is more or less a mission objective.
 
Tubeless said:
In general, mass start xc-ski races have become like bike races. Increased speeds due to technique / skis / wax development have made the drafting benefit more significant. At an average speed of 25 km/hour is still not quite the same as cycling's 40 km/hour but closer.

It still takes top fitness and a high V02Max to stay in the lead group due to the hilly terrain required of world cup courses - but it's clear the best interval-start racer is often no longer the winner in mass starts.

Indeed. Still a very tough race compared to bike racing, where coasting is a very different matter. Going downhill isn't necessarily resting time.

Anyone skied the 50km track in Holmenkollen? I have skied the last four versions, and the last one is the hardest. Goddamn its hard. Almost 2000 vertical meters, and almost no places to rest. Hills are steep, and so are the downhills. There are just no places to recover.
 
Trond Vidar said:
Indeed. Still a very tough race compared to bike racing, where coasting is a very different matter. Going downhill isn't necessary resting time.

Anyone skied the 50km track in Holmenkollen? I have skied the last four versions, and the last one is the hardest. Goddamn its hard. Almost 2000 vertical meters, and almost no places to rest. Hills are steep, and so are the downhills. There are just no places to recover.

I envy and believe you.
Lack of recovery IMU means that endurance performance should be leading, unless the slowest ones are spared by the pace set, or drafting is a factor at least as great as the difference between the lead tempo and the weakest link able to hang on.

As for Domracheva being so much slower in a junior race compared to Neuner... The ski prep is a factor there, and Neuner was already a WorldCup contender als a junior. Ready for the big leagues early on. To be of equal talent, one cannot demand to be equallly fast at the same undevelopped age. Neuner likely got access to the very best skis for her worlds, not so sure she'd be ready to swap with Domracheva's pre race. In any case, if a bike rider were to get 7th in an ITT at junior age, we'd not dismiss them to win senior worlds later in life. Already at that age, there are lot sof variables to be optimized. Neuner was ready to beat any woman on skis in 2006, not the typical junior performance. Now her eeeaaarly retirement raised my eyebrows some. I was and am a fan, but it's just weird. He style was very Gunda Niemann like. Strength, inefficient, but fast. She'd called for more OoC doping testing, but quit early when she was still among the best, and learning to shoot.
Goessner, I seem to remember was off the pace last year. If she'd really be as fast as people said, she'd be like a Neuner. Empty rifle in the air, and ski to win.
I hope someone will agree or disagree with me, but I get itchy from Makarainen's (albeit consistent) speed, while I can understand/justify Domracheva's. Skiing is different from cycling. There actually is an edge to be had by skiing smooth. Lars Berger showed that for over a decade. No apparent strength or power, just grace. Domracheva takes it a level further. If only it's because she's a fine fine woman. When she hauls in a competitors, it always looks like a swan catching up with a duckling. And eagle catching up with a crow, yet the scale it the same. She's totally average in build as far as I can tell. The smooth is just like a video game. She's a dancer, impaccable stability and balance. Where Neuner always looked a bit chubby, Domracheva is a bit skinny, yet ony semi-toned. Neuner would be doing a V2 with such strength impulse. that her poles would be in a V2alt rythm. For non-skiers, her cadance was so low that her poles made a long complete swing between skate strides. No grace, just muscle. Again, Gunda Niemann like in my book. Youtube her. As much as I love angel face Neuner, I would be uncomfortable vouching for her. That retirement is just weird. Would not be totally surprised to hear it was a deal with the German biathlon union having footnotes about her blood values.
 
Mar 4, 2010
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Wolfgang Pichler accused Dasha of doping last winter.

Bei den Damen attackiert derzeit vor allem Darya Domracheva. Wie schätzen Sie ihre bisherige Leistungen ein?
Pichler (lässt sich Zeit): Die Frage beantworte ich nicht, sonst müsste ich lügen.

Ihre Ergebnisse in der Loipe sind beeindruckend…
Pichler (grinst): Genau das ist der Punkt.

Darya always had smooth technique. Her major improvement last year was physical.

Kaisa's coach, Jarmo Punkkinen, used to send skiers to Conconi for blood transfusions as the head coach of the italian XC team and was the personal coach of Manuela "55%" Di Centa. He later took charge of Sweden's women's XC team from 1992-94. Results don't really indicate team wide doping, however, as they were never close to an individual medal and never top 5 in a worlds or olympic relay, so not sure what to make of it. He also coached Juha Lallukka, who clashed with finnish head coach Magnar Dalen over his BP in 2008 and failed the HGH test a year ago. The finnish ski association listed Punkkinen as Lallukka's coach, but Jarmo claims he and Lallukka parted ways after 2007.
 
Mar 4, 2010
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Oh, and the point of the junior performance wasn't really to compare Neuner and Domracheva, but to show that she was far from the best skier and neck and neck with a bunch of nobodies, which makes the "always a huge talent" argument look patently false. Now, the same could be said about several top XC skiers. Bjørgen, Hellner and Kershaw were all mediocre (far worse than Darya relative to the competition) juniors, but no one is claiming they were in fact outstanding.

Edit: I don't want to sell Darya short. She was in fact a top junior.
 
Tyler'sTwin said:
Oh, and the point of the junior performance wasn't really to compare Neuner and Domracheva, but to show that she was far from the best skier and neck and neck with a bunch of nobodies, which makes the "always a huge talent" argument look patently false. Now, the same could be said about several top XC skiers. Bjørgen, Hellner and Kershaw were all mediocre (far worse than Darya relative to the competition) juniors, but no one is claiming they were in fact outstanding.

Edit: I don't want to sell Darya short. She was in fact a top junior.

Thanks, I certainly have not delved into Darya's past as much, and am a admitted fanboy. She reminds me of an ex who also spoke Russian.

The smoothness, always having been attributed high degrees of importance in skating, just lends her credibility. As it did Lars Berger. He looked slow all around the track as he (nearly or completely) won those rare XC outings. Similar pace around the track as Northug, just expending visually less energy. It's technically hard to ski hard like that. It's not about suspect blood values. In ski race I've been dropped by out of shape 60+ ager groupers that were also decades ahead in smoothness compared to me. I could only beat them in classic, which was much more about raw speed and double poling fury. I got a medal there, hardly being able to keep my balance in a straight flat track. Skating takes much more, years of practice (versus none in classic) and still I could not keep basic balance at race effort.

If Darya were as clumsy as Kowalczyk I'd be less confortable with her pace. Although the latter might not be dirtier than the Norwegians. She is a unique talent for sure, we have to guess as to that's enough to warrant wins over extraterrestrial Bjoergen.
 
Jul 28, 2010
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Tubeless said:
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The defenders of the Norwegians say it was their superior ski grinding techniques and bigger waxing team that gave them all the advantage. This is frankly BS. At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, the Norwegian wax team was at least twice the size of the next biggest team - yet the Swedes had the best skis. Ski flex which is considered 60-70% of the benefit is primarily done by the ski factories and not nationalized - each country team skies on multiple brands.

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To back up this point going further back in time:

It has been proposed by several others in this thread that the Norwegians had an advantage throughout the nineties because they were able to keep secret their ski grinding technology, among other things.

I would say this is nonsense. The Norwegians did not invent ski base grinding technology. It migrated from alpine skiing where it had been a mature technology since the seventies. It was well known to the Swix company when they made their successful foray into alpine skiing in the 70's/80's. Every company offered top-level racing skis in the eighties whose bases had been grinded, with different textures for different snow conditions. It was used by ski jumpers as well, where in-run speeds were a hotly contested technological and commercial prize. It was no secret; it was a routine part of race and wax prep, and ski and wax companies are multi-national.

For some to suggest that X-Country racers were blind to this development, with the exception of Norwegians, is … not going to fly.