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Nordic Skiing/Biathlon Thread

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Berger showed who's boss today. As did Shipulin. Fantastic races to watch, both of them.

The La Clusaz race was horrible, waxing wise that is. Would've been interesting to see the fight under better conditions, both Johaug and Kowa ended up behind strangely and Kowa had snow stuck in her grip zone.

Bessmertnykh completely failed in that sprint by thinking he had won, and Poltoranin continues to show great shape. Legkov, Olsson and Cologna showing class on the distance too.
 
Teams are out for the relays tomorrow, last chance to try things out before the Worlds.

No really experimental selections amongst the women; Hilde Fenne has been left out of Norway's lineup in favour of Fanny Horn, leaving a strong lineup (Horn-Solemdal-Flatland-Berger) that will be a threat to anyone. Russia and Ukraine both have strong unchanged units, though trying out different orders (Ukraine moving the Semerenko twins to legs 2 and 3, Russia swapping Vilukhina back to leg 4 and Zaitseva to leg 2, even though Vilukhina has said she doesn't like closing the relay in the past). Germany have had to reshuffle after sending Tina Bachmann home, though there is no experimentation (talk had been of giving Hammerschmidt or Sachenbacher a run-out so they have backup in case of illness or injury at the Worlds) with what I presume is likely to be the World Championships lineup (Hildebrand-Gößner-Horchler-Henkel), while France's Marine Bolliet experiment ends after one race, and they go back to the tried and trusted quartet of Bescond, Boilley, Brunet and Dorin that have done every relay for the last 2 years; the order once more changes with Bescond moving to leg 1 and Brunet to 3, perhaps surprisingly as it would be easier to hide Brunet's lack of ski form on leg 1, while Boilley's vastly increased pace at Ruhpolding augurs well for her future. The Czechs give Gabriela Soukalová a race off as well as Ruhpolding debutante Kristyna Černá, bringing Barbora Toméšová back into the side as well as Jitka Landová, who has thus far had a season to forget.

Poland's team looks very solid and dependable, though I still think Krystyna Pałka is kind of wasted on leg 1. Hojnisz on leg 3 I agree with, as she's the weakest skier of the four, and Gwizdoń, probably the fastest of the four, makes sense on leg 2 (to hopefully limit losses against the likes of Solemdal, Kuzmina and obviously Gößner), but I'd personally swap Nowakowska and Pałka. Mystified, however, that there is no team for either Finland or Slovenia. Both teams I guess can be affected by illness or injury as they likely only have 4 athletes in Antholz, but while I've got used to Finland as a one woman team (even though Laukkanen has been getting better and better) it seems odd for Slovenia to have Mali and Gregorin, but not be able to put out a relay team around them even if it's youngsters who will drop off the pace after those first two legs, like Slovakia or Switzerland. Who are also not there, despite excellent performances from Selina and Elisa Gasparin in the sprint.

With the men, it will be hard to look past the Russians. They've been in supreme form since the Christmas break, and their lineup can even afford to "waste" Anton Shipulin on leg 1 (!), because Ustyugov has been consistently good this season, Garanichev is in great form and Malyshko on leg 4 has been ice cool under pressure in the last few weeks. His pace may have suffered a bit in Antholz, but his shooting calmness and the shorter ski loops in a relay will help him for sure. If anybody will challenge, you would expect it to be the Austrians. They have a super-strong lineup (Eder-Sumann-Mesotitsch-Landertinger). Eder on leg 1 makes sense as his quick shooting time (one of the best on the circuit) means he can afford a miss; no place for Friedrich Pinter, however, which is a bit surprising, while Sumann moves to leg 2, which makes sense given that unlike the women, many men's teams are putting slower skiers but surer shots on leg 2. Norway are without Bjørndalen and Bø, training away from the venue, Berger's been sent home and Svendsen is rested, so it's a youthful Norwegian lineup (Birkeland-Os-Bjøntegaard-L'Abée-Lund), but if they can shoot like they did at Hochfilzen, beware.

Germany's team is also weakened - Andi Birnbacher is out with gastroenteritis, which also kept him from today's pursuit, a shame as he already missed races (at Oberhof) so it will likely put his unlikely bid for the overall WC to bed. Without him there are no obvious weak links, but nobody who will set the world on fire, at least as long as Arnd Peiffer continues to disappoint those who remember his form building to being one of the top guys on the circuit in the last two years. Yesterday he was doing well in the sprint, but lost a minute on the final lap after 2 penalty loops, barely qualified for the pursuit, then missed all 5 at the first prone stage. Also Germany will be worried about their shooting - today Graf missed 4, Lesser 6, Schempp 7, Kühn 8 and Peiffer 9. Graf (when not sticking his face into the barrel of his gun) and Lesser are dependable but not exciting; Schempp has the potential to be really good but it's slow progress, while Peiffer really blows hot and cold. I'd assume his is the place most at risk assuming Birnbacher's available for the Worlds, which I wouldn't have thought at the start of the season. The French are back to the old, tried and trusted lineup (the two Fourcades, Beatrix and Bœuf), though the order changes once more. As long as Simon can atone for his woeful sprint and have them in contact when he hands over to Beatrix, they will be in with a shout; Martin Fourcade can bring back some sizable gaps if on form, however he hasn't looked at his best this weekend, and with his other weakest skiing performances being at Pokljuka, maybe altitude affects him?

Of the other teams, the Swedes - still without a podium this season - look solid as Magnus Jonsson has been decent here; Lindström has at times been blisteringly quick but blows hot and cold; Ferry and Bergman, once the backbone of the team, are now solid hands to rely on to try to keep them in contact for the last leg. The Czech quartet (Šlesingr-Moravec-Soukup-Vitek) is very reliable and due a good result given how clearly the Czech team have improved this season. The US should go well - Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke tend to go well here and Burke's having a very good season - however Currier's not built on his good performances late last season, and Nordgren I'm not too sure about on the anchor leg. And don't forget that last year this Italian quartet (de Lorenzi-Windisch-Windisch-Hofer) won a race, albeit that shock result in the driving snow and wind at Oberhof, conditions which are highly unlikely to be duplicated tomorrow.
 
Aug 9, 2012
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Libertine Seguros said:
It's a family affair in Antholz, with Anton Shipulin following his big sister to victory. Another top name missed 7 shots and the pursuit - this time it was Simon Fourcade, who missed all 5 shots in prone, and presumably just gave up at that point - his time was only good for 99th place! Fourcade looked pretty tired after his performance; he had been in a very good spot after shooting 2 but lost a fair amount of time on the final skiing lap, not just to Svendsen but to Fak and Shipulin as well. Something that's interesting is that there has been some attention drawn to the altitude at Antholz, and how that makes it excellent preparation for Sochi (the XC/biathlon complex is at 1400m elevation at the games next year), however while you would expect altitude to have an effect on certain competitors, it is notable that many of the competitors who've done well so far are not the ones that went well at Pokljuka, which at 1350m is the nearest in altitude, however Pokljuka has some tough trails, so it will be interesting to see how tough they are at Sochi when they do the warmup event at the penultimate World Cup meet.

Also, with the Sochi games, Russia are off the World Cup calendar for next year, with the traditional opening pair of Östersund and Hochfilzen, and the traditional New Year block of Oberhof-Ruhpolding-Antholz, then the Games. The third World Cup will be at Annecy-Le Grand Bornand, a second attempt after the 2011-12 edition had to be rescheduled back at Hochfilzen due to a lack of snow (LGB is a fairly unique venue as well with its finishing line over a road, matching the finish to where Fränk Schleck won the 2009 Tour stage, so I presume that's a vaguely uphill finish), while the closing block will be Pokljuka, Kontiolahti and Holmenkollen. The Junior World Championships travel across the pond to Presque Isle, bearing in mind North America hasn't hosted the World Cup (and only one round of the IBU Cup, maybe 2? In Canmore) since Fort Kent in 2010-11.
As far as I understand the expert talking heads on norwegian TV. The problem in Antholz is that it's very tough on the way to the shooting. Also it's important to have time to aclimatize to altitude for some athletes before competing, and the schedule does not allow for this. I don't remember the Pogliuka situation right now. Could be some circumstanses are different.

So when your skiing you have to be careful not to build up lactate, because you only feel your limit after you reached it, and then it's too late. Typical symptom of that would be someone starting quick then really slowing down on the last round.

Then there is the breeding and pulse management thats very important in biathlon. Things work just a little bit different, but that difference can mean a miss when shooting. If you whent just a little bit too hard earlier, your pulse may not have calmed down as much as expected when shooting, and then you are in trouble.




jsem94 said:
Berger showed who's boss today. As did Shipulin. Fantastic races to watch, both of them.

The La Clusaz race was horrible, waxing wise that is. Would've been interesting to see the fight under better conditions, both Johaug and Kowa ended up behind strangely and Kowa had snow stuck in her grip zone.

Bessmertnykh completely failed in that sprint by thinking he had won, and Poltoranin continues to show great shape. Legkov, Olsson and Cologna showing class on the distance too.
Berger gets by on her shooting. I wish she could teach her brother how to shoot.:( Shipulin seems to be good at altitude, so he will be dangerous in Sochi according to the TV dudes.

As far as I understood the womens race in La Clusaz, Kowa was starting with her running style, and even went outside the track. Problem for her was that in todays snow conditions that is a very bad idea because snow can get stuck to the wax, and then it's like someone put a rug under your skiis. Johaug and Marit talked about being concerned about that, and wanted to avoid being in the track behind Kowa when she did that(perhaps to avoid loose snow getting caught in their wax too, or getting caught having to round her?).

What happened was that Kowa got snow stuck under her skiis and was forced to stop or something(happened outside the picture), Bjørgen was in front and took off while Johaug got caught behind Kowa and had to get around her, giving Bjørgen too much space on the downhill.

A little later you could see Kowa actually stopping to remove snow from her skiis. Kowas problem was not the waxing, but her not adapting her style to the conditions.

As for the race I was very pleased with Weng. She started hard like she tends to do and being that it was at 1600 meters, she had trouble later, but hung on for fifth. She learned a valuable lesson for the future.

As for the men, Didrik Tønseth came forth and he was born in 1991. So it appears we have future talent coming up on the mens side too. :)
 
ToreBear said:
As far as I understand the expert talking heads on norwegian TV. The problem in Antholz is that it's very tough on the way to the shooting. Also it's important to have time to aclimatize to altitude for some athletes before competing, and the schedule does not allow for this. I don't remember the Pogliuka situation right now. Could be some circumstanses are different.

So when your skiing you have to be careful not to build up lactate, because you only feel your limit after you reached it, and then it's too late. Typical symptom of that would be someone starting quick then really slowing down on the last round.

Then there is the breeding and pulse management thats very important in biathlon. Things work just a little bit different, but that difference can mean a miss when shooting. If you whent just a little bit too hard earlier, your pulse may not have calmed down as much as expected when shooting, and then you are in trouble.
Pokljuka was directly following on from Hochfilzen at the end of a block of 3 consecutive events too, and the travel isn't too dissimilar to that from Ruhpolding to Antholz. However, Pokljuka has a comparatively easy run-in to the range with a gentle descent, although the end of the climb is closer to the range than at Ruhpolding. You'd expect that therefore makes it a bit easier to regulate breathing and get the shooting right.

Berger gets by on her shooting. I wish she could teach her brother how to shoot.:( Shipulin seems to be good at altitude, so he will be dangerous in Sochi according to the TV dudes.
I think it's too late for Lars now. At his age he's finding the days when he's on his A-game, even for ski form, fewer and further between, and with so many young athletes coming through - L'Abée-Lund, Christiansen, Birkeland, Bjøntegaard, and let's not forget there's Tarjei Bø, who's had health problems but is a former World Cup overall winner, and his brother, that Lars simply isn't a priority anymore. Even if Tora helped him with the shooting, he's only going to on occasion be able to put together the kind of form that can compete with the younger, more consistent top guys. He may continue to get rotations in the team, especially as OEB won't be around forever, but his time for being a top player has seemingly passed, which is sad because I am a fan of his (I always seem to fall for the spray-the-bullets-around fast skiers).

His career standing average is 62,9%. For comparison, Magdalena Neuner, notorious for having difficulties in standing, had a career average of 67,5%. Tora clearly got all the standing shooting skills, because her shooting from standing at the final shoot is often breathtaking, all 5 down in the time most of her opponents take to get one shot away.
 
Aug 9, 2012
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Libertine Seguros said:
Pokljuka was directly following on from Hochfilzen at the end of a block of 3 consecutive events too, and the travel isn't too dissimilar to that from Ruhpolding to Antholz. However, Pokljuka has a comparatively easy run-in to the range with a gentle descent, although the end of the climb is closer to the range than at Ruhpolding. You'd expect that therefore makes it a bit easier to regulate breathing and get the shooting right.


I think it's too late for Lars now. At his age he's finding the days when he's on his A-game, even for ski form, fewer and further between, and with so many young athletes coming through - L'Abée-Lund, Christiansen, Birkeland, Bjøntegaard, and let's not forget there's Tarjei Bø, who's had health problems but is a former World Cup overall winner, and his brother, that Lars simply isn't a priority anymore. Even if Tora helped him with the shooting, he's only going to on occasion be able to put together the kind of form that can compete with the younger, more consistent top guys. He may continue to get rotations in the team, especially as OEB won't be around forever, but his time for being a top player has seemingly passed, which is sad because I am a fan of his (I always seem to fall for the spray-the-bullets-around fast skiers).

His career standing average is 62,9%. For comparison, Magdalena Neuner, notorious for having difficulties in standing, had a career average of 67,5%. Tora clearly got all the standing shooting skills, because her shooting from standing at the final shoot is often breathtaking, all 5 down in the time most of her opponents take to get one shot away.
Yep, I think he is coming to terms with that himself. It's a shame with all that shooting in biathlon, if only there was a sport without all that shooting ruining it for the good skiers.... Oh wait....:p

Anyway tomorrow is relay day in xc. The Norway 1 girls will probably dominate with 4 of the top 7 from todays race on the start line, but Norway 2 looks vulnerable. I think the Swedes, Finns and the US will make the race interesting with Norway 2 as an outsider.

For the Mens race Norway is without Northug so I can't say we are the favorites, we are more one of the candidates. Sweden and Russia is very strong, but a lot of the other teams can also take the top spot. If Røthe beats Hellner in the sprint tomorrow, I think Hellner should apply for asylum somwhere like North Korea or something.;)
 
Really pleased for the German girls. Their team has taken a lot of stick in the last few weeks and this is the best way to come back. This was what people thought would be the Worlds relay, and it is true that unless Tina Bachmann can rediscover her mojo then beyond these four they are restricted to 'prospects' such as Hammerschmidt or the youngsters who'll show up on the scene after a while such as Dahlmeier and Preuß, or 'projects' such as Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle. Nevertheless, Hildebrand's ski speed has come on in leaps and bounds recently, and Nadine Horchler has dealt well with altitude here in Antholz and has shot 10/10, 19/20 and 10/10 in the three races, and it's hard to do much better.

However, I was really sad for Poland, because they did everything right until the last shoot, when poor Weronika Nowakowska-Ziemniak had a bit of a meltdown with the podium beckoning. Pałka was superb (I am a fan of hers) giving them the lead, Gwizdoń was solid and Hojnisz did great to hold on and even gain on Shumilova and Brunet, but I just think that last lap was one too many for them, sadly. I still think Pałka is wasted on the opening leg and should swap with Nowakowska, but then I think Bescond is wasted on the opening leg and should swap with Brunet. At the first leg, there's far less room as people are closer together, so it's easier to hide a slow skier, especially if they shoot fast and accurately like Brunet does - she'll hand over to Boilley or Bescond well up in contention.

The Czechs, by contrast, I thought were very disappointing, having been a good unit most of the year only to fall away just before their home Worlds - however, resting Soukalová has an obvious effect, and if Vitková wasn't on her best shooting form then they were never going to contend.

Edit: ahead of the men's relay a couple of lineup changes have been made. Simon Schempp is unwell and has been replaced on the anchor leg by Johannes Kühn. This leaves Germany, with Birnbacher having already had to take the pursuit off due to gastroenteritis, with a bare bones lineup of Graf-Lesser-Peiffer-Kühn, and it will be hard for them to impose themselves on the race unless Peiffer can suddenly rediscover the magic that has been missing almost entirely since Östersund. In the Norwegian team, also, Erlend Bjøntegaard has pulled out, meaning he will be replaced by Johannes Thingnes Bø, the younger of the Bø siblings, for his first call-up. Sweden have swapped Ferry and Bergman over so that now Bergman will lead off and Ferry will be on leg 2.

Edit:
Now seeing the men's relay, it seems that it was pretty predictable; the best teams on paper were France, Russia and Austria and so they ended up, and perhaps unsurprisingly in that order; Austria don't have the skiing speed of the other two, and while Garanichev and Malyshko were both a little unfortunate in where they caught backmarkers, they can have no complaints at the French winning overall. Having won at Ruhpolding and now winning at Antholz, the French have all the momentum going their way for the World Championships where they will be overwhelming favourites, although if Norway put out a full-strength team with the likes of Svendsen and Bjørndalen in it then they will obviously be a contender. Not sure who would join those two, but I'd suspect Tarjei Bø if his preparation is going well, and probably Henrik L'Abée-Lund, who has been the most consistent over the course of the season. The French unit is very well-drilled however, and apart from Beatrix moving to 2nd and Simon Fourcade leading off it will be the same as last year, and that was only motivated by Simon's injury anyway. I was very surprised (and impressed) by the Belarusians today; Abramenko was right up with the best on leg 1 and Novikov showed an unexpected burst of speed on leg 2.

The foggy conditions at shooting 8 made for an interesting showdown, but Malyshko seemed to have a bit of trouble with his rifle and took his first shot far too quickly, which put the balance of favour back with Fourcade when both missed 2. Plenty of people had problems with the shooting, though surprisingly late replacement Johannes Kühn was able to shoot clear in the fog to bring Germany back up to 7th, which after Erik Lesser had a meltdown at shooting 4 and had to do four penalty loops, was quite something. Of Germany's 9 reloads and 4 penalty loops, 0 were in prone, which is something they can take from the weekend after yesterday's shooting catastrophes. Norway's youngsters, I'm afraid, never really featured from the moment Lars Helge Birkeland missed 2 in prone. We did catch them in the range a few times, enough to know that Johannes Thingnes Bø was reasonably quick, but had to do a penalty loop in standing, while Italy, doing so well after shooting 3, fell apart a bit after Dominik Windisch missed 4 in standing, then his brother Markus missed 3 in both prone and standing. Similarly, Slovenia could have been in business if they could release Jakov Fak somewhere reasonably competitive, however both Bauer and Marič needed 2 penalty loops and left him with far too much to do, a little like Belarus with Domracheva earlier. Jean-Philippe Leguellec looked to be getting back into the kind of form that saw him pull off the surprise win in Östersund's sprint, which now seems kind of weird looking back, and led into shooting 2 with good shooting in prone and fast skiing, but appears, like Lesser, to have taken too much energy out of himself on lap 2, needing all of his reloads and still having a target standing. It's a shame as I'd love to see him up there on occasion, to try to duplicate that shock victory, as variety is the spice of life.
 
Norway was so lucky to win that men's final. Hellner was pushed and got blocked, not unfairly, but he would have beaten Sjur SO easily. And Chernousov was looking to pass as well, and would definitely have had he not tripped up like that. Ilia looked like he was weeping having let down his team in that sprint.
 
Mar 4, 2010
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Swedish commentator and ex-national team skier Anders Blomquist was arguing that the jurys tend to favour Norway. Can't argue with that.

Skofterud skates in a classical race - no penalty
Heikinen skates in a classical race - disqualified

Røthe blatantly blocks Hellner - no penalty
Kowalczyk blatantly blocks Randall - disqualified

Richardsson skis outside the course mid race - 7 min time penalty
Northug skis outside the course to overtake opponents pre-sprint - no penalty

Way to go FIS! :rolleyes:
 
Sep 25, 2009
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jsem94 said:
... Hellner was pushed and got blocked, not unfairly, but he would have beaten Sjur SO easily.
indeed. but always a gentleman, marcus, though disappointed, pointed out that the norwegian was within the rulebook.
http://www.dagbladet.no/2013/01/20/sport/ski/langrenn/stafett/sjur_rothe/25350250/

...And Chernousov was looking to pass as well, and would definitely have had he not tripped up...
i played the video several times. it looked like cherno was to place 3d at best. he was very nervous and almost fell 2 more times in the last kilometer. anyways, it was an interesting choice to see him in the final changer...i thought they will have legkov in stead.
 
Aug 9, 2012
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Hmm I didn't really expect Røthe to win. Hellner should have clobbered him on the final stretch, if only he had the sense to place himself better. He has much better acceleration IMHO.

I understand Blomquist went on another rage against what he percieves as injustice again. Well it's predictable. On paper Hellner should have won it, so he was probably very dissapointed. Though his conspiracy theories are starting to become a bit strange.

In one way it's good that he creates headlines, but of course it might not be good if Swedish TV viewers feels like they are cheated against without there being an objective cause for it.

On another note with all the conspiracies and percieved cheating by those devious Norwegians, Hellner will not need to apply for asylum in North Korea after all.:D

The top video has some comments from different caracters.
http://www.nrk.no/sport/nordmennene-avviser-svenske-kritikk-1.10879667


Tyler'sTwin said:
Swedish commentator and ex-national team skier Anders Blomquist was arguing that the jurys tend to favour Norway. Can't argue with that.

Skofterud skates in a classical race - no penalty
Heikinen skates in a classical race - disqualified

Røthe blatantly blocks Hellner - no penalty
Kowalczyk blatantly blocks Randall - disqualified

Richardsson skis outside the course mid race - 7 min time penalty
Northug skis outside the course to overtake opponents pre-sprint - no penalty

Way to go FIS! :rolleyes:

Anders Blomquist has a tendency to ignore/forget things that don't fit his narrative.

Skofterud skates in a classical race - Yellow card
Heikinen skates in a classical race - 2nd Yellow card
Cologna skates in a classical race - yellow card

Røthe blatantly blocks Hellner - no penalty
http://www.eurosport.se/langdakning/la-clusaz/2012-2013/hellner-trangd-pa-upploppet-sverige-tvaa-i-stafetten_sto3583098/story.shtml
Kowalczyk blatantly blocks Randall - disqualified
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uthvAQ4ngSY

Richardsson skis outside the course mid race - 7 min time penalty
Northug skis outside the course to overtake opponents pre-sprint - Yellow Card
Discussed more in http://forum.cyclingnews.com/showpost.php?p=1102902&postcount=99
So lets start with Skofterud skating. Seeing the replay I don't think she did anything wrong. I think the yellow card was too harsh. The swedish expert commentator on TV4 said the following week that he saw nothing wrong with what she did. This goes into my book as another Blomquist brainfart which the Jury seemed to have taken as gospel when watching the race on svt.

Heikinnen appears to have a yellow from a previous race, and now he got another and that means disqualification, or he got two warnings during todays race. If it's the first I think the rules need to be changed. He got his previous warning in an individual race, and the disqualification this time punished 3 other skiers. That does not feel right to me. If it's the second, he should have known better.

The Norwegian commentators mentioned that Cologna got yellow carded for skating. I couldn't find any thing, but it could be the reprimand list has yet to be updated.
http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/disciplines/cross-country-rules/cross-country-rules/rules.html

On the Røthe vs. Kowa situations,they do feel quite different to me. Something about following the best line that does not compute in the Kowa situation. As for Fis, well there are a bit different sanctioning procedures in a sprint than in a regular race, so there is no apeal to FIS afaik. Anyway the Kowa stuff happend 4-5 years ago?

The Richardsson/Northug situation is discussed in the link. I don't think Northug deserved a yellow card in that situation. Only reason he got it is because the Swedes were on edge following the Richardsson penalty.

As for the Jurys envolved.
Richardsson penalty:

FIS Technical Delegate
FIS Race Director Assistant
FIS Assistant Technical Delegate
Assistant TD Nat.
Chief of Competition

GRANLUND Thomas (SWE)
MIGNEREY Pierre (FIS)
KADYKOV Georgy (RUS)
KOESEL Peter (GER)
ZIPFEL Georg (GER)

Perhaps the Blomquist response would be that the Norwegians inifltrated a swede as technical delegate who was actually brainwashed by the Norwegian skiing association.:rolleyes:


By the way, shame about Chernusov falling. I think he was crying because he was so tired, and his fall could mean he doesn't get picked for the WC. He and Legkov have gone solo with their training, something that is not that popular among the ski bosses in Russia. It probably didn't help that they went above their heads to get the go ahead as well.
 
Aug 9, 2012
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python said:
indeed. but always a gentleman, marcus, though disappointed, pointed out that the norwegian was within the rulebook.
http://www.dagbladet.no/2013/01/20/sport/ski/langrenn/stafett/sjur_rothe/25350250/

i played the video several times. it looked like cherno was to place 3d at best. he was very nervous and almost fell 2 more times in the last kilometer. anyways, it was an interesting choice to see him in the final changer...i thought they will have legkov in stead.
There is a big risk with the Russians, they tend to boink. Fall, blow up you name it. Something always happens. I would use Maxim V on 4th as he has the nerves and tactical ability.

Also I think it might be time for the Swedes to put Halvarsson on 4th. I think he has a lot more tactical sense than Hellner. And Hellner is perfect for 3rd. If there are problems in the classic parts, I see Hellner being the perfect guy to catch up any lost time and send Halvarsson out in the lead.
 
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The worst of the "things" mentioned above is Skofterud, I think. But my memory is maybe not so good. The link from nrk just stopped when Skofterud started her move. Any other link of that, someone?
 
Aug 9, 2012
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sworks said:
The worst of the "things" mentioned above is Skofterud, I think. But my memory is maybe not so good. The link from nrk just stopped when Skofterud started her move. Any other link of that, someone?
You might have to download a torrent/magnet.

http://thepiratebay.se/torrent/7858800

A nice site to find more races:
http://nordicxplained.wordpress.com/media/2012-2013-bit-torrent-races/cross-country-skiing/




I'm enjoying watching SM on svt now. Emma Wiken was really impressive even though some of the strongest contenders were missing.

The mens race is going to be exciting. All the best Swedes are starting.
 
Sep 25, 2009
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is anyone following the junior and u23 worlds in Liberec ?

what really got my attention this year was that unlike their senior compatriots, norrmännen are far from dominant.

after 3 days, germany leads with 8 medals (3 golds) whilst norway has only one bronze…it’s unlikely that the talent pool is drying (iirc, last year norges collected 10 medals) but what’s happening this year ?

torebear, any thoughts ?
 
Aug 9, 2012
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python said:
is anyone following the junior and u23 worlds in Liberec ?

what really got my attention this year was that unlike their senior compatriots, norrmännen are far from dominant.

after 3 days, germany leads with 8 medals (3 golds) whilst norway has only one bronze…it’s unlikely that the talent pool is drying (iirc, last year norges collected 10 medals) but what’s happening this year ?

torebear, any thoughts ?
Hmm, Well I think there are some different things involved. Anyway Ragnild Haga got gold in u23 10km freestyle, so it's not that bad.:)

We have the nationals now, and those who are eligible to compete in the u23 class who have a chance of qualifying for Val di Fiemme are likely focusing on that.

For the Girls we have Heidi Weng and Martine Ek Hagen. Heidi Weng would likely dominate the distance races in the u23. Ek Hagen would also probably be able to win on the freestyle events and podium on a good day in skiathlon.

As for the sprints, I think Maiken Kaspersen Falla is just about eligible in u23 and would be a favorite, but she is focusing on the WC. But otherwise the best girls were sent, they just weren't as good as their competitors.

Though I expect the Norwegian placings to improve in the coming events being over longer distances. I also have a feeling Norwegians are a bit better in classic at a younger age than their competitors.

For the men u23 Krogh is just about eligible and Tønseth is eligible and might place highly if they were not hoping for a WC spot and hence competing in the nationals. I say might, because the competition is very good.

For example Andrew Musgrave came 4th in 15km u23 freestyle. He is very good in this distance. He came third in the Norwegian nationals last year.:eek: Since he's from the UK, Thomas Alsgaard who came 4th was given the Bronze medal. There might be an improvement for the Norwegians when classic style comes into play, but I don't really expect any dominance. The other U23s just seem to be very good.

For the sprints, Golberg is just about eligeble for u23, so he might have been on the podium. But again, those who podiumed are very good, so there would be no guarantees.


In the Junior category there is no leakage, so what you see is what you get. I don't see the Norwegian girls/womens recent domination as something that will continue forever. I see things going in cycles across different times. I see other nations having good youngsters coming up, and their development programs improving, meaning they are likely to reach the top level and the chance of the next Bjørgen coming from some place other than Norway increases. Thats why I savor our current domination, because when it ends I can remember the good times.

On the boys/mens side, there has been no Norwegian domination. Only Northug who has kept us in the game. But there are a lot of good skiers coming up through the ranks, so that it's no longer just about Northug.

But as always look for Norway in the upcoming junior relays. When it comes to putting up a full team with out any obvious weaknesses. I think only the Russians have the same depth.

On a more general note, it looks like the Germans are finally coming back into play. They seem to have a lot of good youngsters and the younger seniors are beginning to make their mark.


Direct links to the results for anyone interested:
Liberec u23/juniors:
http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?cal_suchsector=CC&event_id=31938

Norwegian championship:
http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?event_id=32205&cal_suchsector=CC

Swedish championship:
http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?event_id=33025&cal_suchsector=CC
 
Mäkäräinen took gold in Finnish XC nats, 10k freestyle. Probably partly due to her being closer to top form than the XC skiers and well tapered, but beating Roponen was actually quite a feat.

Mostly I have mixed feelings tho, and I quite dislike the way the Finnish media hypes her as the great white hope - whilst Punkkinen is coaching. No questions are being asked, of course, although "Sinivalkoinen valhe" implicated him in a damning manner, and of course there is a good amount of that kinda media history too.
 
Sep 25, 2009
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since there were no world cup events yesterday, I busied myself following other high quality xc races…

being the numbers person, 2 very different results (that in theory should not have been this far apart) jumped at me. both were set in the same discipline -skiathlon, same distance 30km, same day - yesterday. but at different races hudreds of km apart.

the first race was in Liberec at the world u23. the 3 winners averaged just under 1:12.
Source: http://www.fis-ski.com/pdf/2013/CC/2292/2013CC2292RL.pdf

the second race was in Gåsbu at the norwegian championships. the 3 winners averaged just over 1:21.
Source: http://www.langrenn.com/stigende-form-for-nm-vinner-northug.5159501-1743.html

the differences would not be so surprising if the 2nd race did not contain several of the worlds most accomplished adult skiers (northug, sundby, rønning) as well as the brigh norwegian young talent (tønseth)

why is the glaring, almost 10 minute (13%) difference whereas (for a casual observer) northug should have slaughtered the youngsters ?

of course, the reason i picked this example was to illustrate the complexity of xc skiing results that some fans are too quick to ascribe to the clinic…the huge dependence on the elements - weather, snow conditions, topography etc.
 
Did anyone else see Piller Cottrer's fall in the Marcialonga? That was brutal... Great with for J. Aukland there too.

And for the Swedish Championships, Hellner only placed 3rd after Richardsson and the winner Olsson in the 15km freestyle. Didn't expect Hellner being so far behind too. Olsson is looking great for the WC.
 
The IBU have rather thoughtfully, as there is no World Cup this week, allowed us to stream the Junior WC races (but not the Youth ones) from Obertilliach.

Uliana Kaisheva is clearly ready for the Juniors; the Russian outskied everybody to a ridiculous level, with 1 penalty she won the sprint over 6km by a full minute, and doubled up with a comfortable pursuit win despite 4 errors. Italy's Lisa Vittozzi (clean shooting) and Russia's Svetlana Mironova (1 penalty) made up the rest of the medals in the sprint, but fell away in the pursuit, with Kazakh Galina Vishevskaya climbing from 5th with 1 penalty to 2nd, and German Marion Deigentesch, who despite matching Kaisheva's shooting record was over 2 minutes down in 16th in the sprint, shot 19/20 and outskied Zhuravok (who went 20/20) on the final lap to get the bronze medal.

The male Youth sprint was a much tighter affair, with nobody having too clear a ski advantage. France's Fabien Claude took the win with 2 penalties, though the USA's Sean Doherty started a couple of minutes behind and came closest, matching the Frenchman's shooting but not his ski time, to finish 3 seconds behind. Rene Zahkna of Estonia finished 3rd, with 1 penalty. Amazingly, no Germans or Russians (the latter having been particularly successful at these championships) in the top 10, but as opposed to the women, there were 19 male youths inside a minute, leading to a tense pursuit. Claude wilted at the range, with 7 penalties in all, with Doherty having just 3 and clearly outskiing Zahkna to take the win. Fredrik Rørvik of Norway won a keenly fought battle for 3rd, again with 3 penalties, while key movers were Niklas Homberg of Germany (climbing from 22nd to 5th) and Vemund Gurigard of Norway (from 26th to 7th), who both shot with 3 penalties but gained time on Doherty and Zahkna.

Onto the Juniors, where I actually got to see the races so can go on what I remember as well as just the reports.

First up was the women's sprint. The early running was made by Annika Knoll of Germany, who put a lot of time into those that went before her despite 2 penalties, to the point where it was amazing to see how far she tumbled down the rankings. World Cup semi-regular Daria Yurlova of Estonia was the first to overhaul her, shortly followed by Frenchwoman Enora Latuillière. Most of the main names went in the middle bunch, and the next key name was Germany's Franziska Preuß, a very promising 18yo competitor still eligible for the Youth events, who many German fans have high expectations of. She missed one in prone, but shot clear in standing in incredible time (seriously, she shoots in standing at a pace even Tora Berger might be hard pushed to match), however a few minutes later she was overhauled first by Austria's Lisa Theresa Hauser and then France's Anaïs Chevalier, who both posted times around 13" better than the young German, with clean shooting the key. Both were made to look like rank amateurs by Germany's other major contender, Laura Dahlmeier, however. Dahlmeier has a lot of Germany's fans' tongues wagging & was indeed a contender for slot 6 at Antholz. After this weekend I wouldn't be surprised to see her at Holmenkollen, Sochi or Khanty-Mansiysk. She shoots slowly and methodically, but she shot all 10 targets and the time she set was almost a minute ahead of the two other sharpshooters despite her slower range time. The only one who could contend with her was Russia's Olga Podchufarova, who set a blindingly fast course time, but paid for it with 3 penalties in standing, ending up 48" behind. The last threat to the German was Norway's Hilde Fenne, who has been excellent in relays for them this season... but she has not peaked at the right time for these championships, with 3 penalties but a time more than a minute off Podchufarova's.

Going into the pursuit, Dahlmeier had a significant lead & while Podchufarova was able to eat into it a bit with her skiing time, she lost all the time she made at the range when she missed in the second standing. Preuß made light work of Chevalier and Hauser on the trails to move into 3rd very early on. It was in the first standing that the race turned upside down; Laura Dahlmeier is the kind of biathlete I love. She is fast, but she is vulnerable. The pressure struck her in the first standing, and she followed in the footsteps of many a German star before her - Disl, Neuner, Gößner - with 3 misses to Podchufarova's 1, meaning her advantage was cut to just 6 seconds. With her insanely fast shooting style, Preuß would have taken the lead had she hit all 5, but she could only manage 4. Meanwhile, behind, others struggling at the range in standing allowed Vanessa Hinz, a converted XC skier who's only been doing biathlon a year, to step up to 4th place with 18/20 on the day. At the final shoot, Dahlmeier and Podchufarova were together... Podchufarova shot 4/5, Dahlmeier 3... but even if they shot equal it was a foregone conclusion as Podchufarova shot fairly quickly, Dahlmeier very methodically. Or would it have been? What we do know is that Preuß moved ahead of Dahlmeier due to fast and accurate shooting, emerging 21" behind Podchufarova with Dahlmeier at 37"... but at the finish Dahlmeier had turned this deficit to just 17", with Preuß only losing 3 more seconds to the Russian who had been the second fastest skier on the day (the fastest was Hilde Fenne, but with 9 penalties she became an irrelevance to those at the front). So was Podchufarova easing up knowing she had the win, or did Dahlmeier pace the race better and have that much in reserve? Either way, both are really good prospects if this is anything to go by, as is bronze medallist Preuß. The big movers were Russia's Elena Ankudinova (20th to 8th with 2 penalties) and France's Coline Varcin (21st to 10th with just 1).

The men's sprint was laid out fairly similarly to the women's, with the main names going in the middle order. Russia's Aleksandr Chernyshov set the early time to beat, with 2 penalties, and Vetle Sjåstad Christiansen, who has had some good performances at the World Cup level this season, most notably at Östersund, showed that again Norwegians hadn't quite peaked this right, as despite shooting 10/10 (which only 4 people managed) and setting a long-time target time, he couldn't make the podium. The big deal was Maxim Tsvetkov, who won the sprint and pursuit at Junior level in both 2011 and 2012, and posted a mind-boggling ski time again in the sprint, only for his composure to desert him at the range and, after 2 penalties in standing, he only quashed Christiansen's time rather than obliterating it. A couple of decent challengers missed 1 target, and still fell nearly a minute shy of Tsvetkov's time - Quentin Fillon-Maillet of France and Roman Rees of Germany - but it was left to two consecutive starters to make the decisive moves. Aleksandr Loginov missed one shot in standing; Johannes Thingnes Bø missed one in prone. Both posted times akin to Tsvetkov's after two laps, so we could be forgiven that given the extra miss, they would fall away from his time at the finish. But we would be wrong, for Loginov posted the fastest time, 11" ahead of his compatriot, and Bø fell 5" behind. The only remaining challenger was yet another Russian, Timur Makhambetov, as long as he could shoot cleanly in standing. He couldn't, and had to settle for 6th.

Onto the pursuit then, and the first bit of news was that Christiansen, 4th in the sprint, had chosen not to take the start. This left a huge gap between the leading trio and the chasers a minute behind. Tsvetkov fought hard on the first lap to catch up to the leading duo, but paid for it when he missed one in prone 1 and had to do all that work again, but he was helped by Bø setting a seemingly very pedestrian pace. The next trio on the trails were Makhambetov, Fillon-Maillet and Rees, with the Russian again being the one to miss. At prone 2, Bø missed, giving Loginov the clear advantage and putting himself back behind Tsvetkov, while Rees shot clear and rid himself of any company. The Russians started to work to distance him and came in to standing 1 together, but both had respective meltdowns - Loginov missing 2 and Tsvetkov 3 - meaning Bø could take the lead if he shot well... but he missed 2 himself. This gave the fast-shooting Rees the chance - Rees shoots rather like Andi Birnbacher, taking a bit of time to set up his position but once shot 1 is away shot 5 is shortly afterwards. Knowing a medal was a possibility he went for it, shooting at the kind of speed normally reserved for Tora Berger and repeater rifles, but sometimes shooting at that speed sacrifices accuracy, and so it was, missing 2 himself and falling back into the clutches of Fillon-Maillet, who just missed 1. Tsvetkov's faster skiing and quicker shooting times meant that he completed his 3 laps shortly behind Loginov's 2, with Bø some 30 seconds behind. Coming into shooting 4, it was a question of which Russian would blink first? The answer was both, as they both missed shot number 1 simultaneously. This time it was Tsvetkov who missed 2 and Loginov 3, so Bø didn't have as much time as he had at shooting 3. Perhaps because of that, he didn't overthink things, just shot, getting all 5 quickly and reminding us of his brother's explosion onto the scene. This time, Rees and Fillon-Maillet didn't get the chance, because Bø was off on the trails already. They missed 2 each to sacrifice the medals anyhow. Tsvetkov trailed in 15" behind Bø having started 6" behind and with 3 extra misses; he was the fastest on the trails, but Bø raced smarter, as Tsvetkov seemingly took too much out of himself in the skiing to be able to control the shots; Loginov took home the bronze. Few big movers in the pursuit, despite the close times; Giuseppe Montello, the Italian, was by far the best of these, shooting 19 out of 20, en route to 7th from 20th position.
 
Let's examine a bit of what this means.

- with the retirements of Olofsson-Zidek, Ekholm and Nilsson in short order, the Swedes have more or less become a one-gender team. Ferry and Bergman won't be around much longer, however, and while Lindström is good, it's panic stations for depth otherwise. Of Sweden's four male entries in the Junior Worlds, Henrik Fristedt and Viktor Agestam were 41st and 55th, while Daniel Gustavsson and Peppe Femling had off days and didn't make the pursuit. Neither of those qualified made significant gains in the pursuit, Fristedt missing 6 and staying in 41st, and Agestam missing 8 but climbing to 52nd. For the girls it's less apocalyptic; the three girls entered - Anna Wikström, Anna Svedin Thunström and Emma Nilsson - all qualified for the pursuit, but Wikström was the best, 22nd at 2'53 with 2 penalties; even shooting clear she'd have been 2 minutes off Dahlmeier's time at best. Nilsson didn't start the pursuit while the other two both lost places; Wikström missed 4 at prone 1, but recovered well, so it wasn't a pointless exercise. Nevertheless, there is very good reason to fear for the future in Swedish biathlon - they didn't put anybody in the top 20 of either youth sprint either, but Markus Stenberg climbed from 27th to 15th in the male youth pursuit. It might be their best option in the near future to persuade Chardine Sloof to change nationalities, since she's based in Sweden anyhow, and I shan't imagine she has much opportunity for assistance on the level she'd get from the Swedish team in the Dutch squad, which more or less consists of her and her brother.

- where will some of these juniors go? The Russians have a stacked lineup as it is in the World Cup, especially for the men. Tsvetkov has lain waste to these championships for 3 years now, can they really just put him into the IBU Cup like they've done others? At the same time, people like Slepov and Iourieva are showing in the IBU Cup they need to be given the runouts at the World Cup level. I'm not saying these guys are the finished article, but Tsvetkov's more or less been at the same level for three years now and ought to be being given the opportunity to step up, but who makes way in the team the Russians have at the moment? For the women it's a bit easier, as Podchufarova is the only one who is clearly ready for the step up, and she can easily be rotated into the side occasionally at the expense of a less constant team member, like Korovina or Iourieva, to see how she settles in, although unlike Germany and Norway Russia have always tended to take the Mixed Relay seriously, whereas the former tend to use it as an opportunity to get a look at some prospects or people fighting for a place in the other relays.

- while much has been made of the lacking depth of the German women of late, with Henkel not likely to continue past the Olympics, and while some (myself included) have been waiting for Gößner to break out like she has done for a couple of years now, it was by no means sure she would. Bachmann has underperformed this year, and Horchler has been a pleasant surprise. Underneath these though, there's only Franzi Hildebrand, as Sachenbacher-Stehle has been worryingly off the pace and at 32 is clearly not the long term answer anyway, while Döll has retired, Hammerschmidt has been decent but struggling for ski pace and Hennecke hasn't really been given the opportunity to show what she can do outside the IBU-Cup. It's therefore refreshing then, that two of the best prospects in Juniors are German. You could make the argument that they are THE two best prospects, as Dahlmeier and Podchufarova came out of the weekend equal, but with Podchufarova seemingly having less scope for improvement in that she's already pretty slick while Dahlmeier is still raw, and with Preuß still being of the age to be in Youth and picking up medals in the Juniors, and shooting the way she is, she's one of the biggest prospects out there. One wonders what would have happened had Preuß raced against the youths, would it have been so easy for Kaisheva? Or should Kaisheva have been in the Juniors, like Preuß?

- France continue in their recent tradition. Fillon-Maillet and Dumont are not especially quick on the trails but are pretty reliable in the range; Varcin really impressed me with her shooting, however Anaïs Chevalier seemed to be the exception; she's fairly quick but wasn't as accurate, while Enora Latuillière was perfect in prone, but prone to mistakes in standing.

- Bø excepted, the Norwegians didn't seem to get this right at all. Frida Strand Kristoffersen was good in the sprint, then missed 4 in prone 1 in the pursuit and tumbled out of the top 10, while Hilde Fenne set the fastest course time in the pursuit (having been a minute off Podchufarova's in the sprint), and also the fastest shooting time, but it's no good shooting fast when you only hit 11/20. She's better than a 13th and 14th place and she knows it. The Norwegians on the other hand have some good options for moving up as the team looks to be keen to give the younger competitors a chance at the top level. Brun-Lie, Fenne, Gjermundshaug and Christiansen have all been seen in the WC this year, while Bø has been in the relay at Antholz and several others have IBU-Cup experience. Naturally OEB won't be around forever, and it looks like they need to crystallise the new squad around Svendsen and seemingly the elder Bø if he can recapture his form of two years ago, and for the women Tora Berger is the obvious leader, but she and Flatland are both over 30, with Solemdal the young star on the team. Elise Ringen has taken a big step backward this year, it seems, while Eckhoff and Horn have made strides - but neither have really cemented their place in the team (indeed, despite being in the World Cup top 30 it seems Tiril Eckhoff will only be in Nové Město as a reserve) so there are opportunities there.

- quite refreshing to see some good Canadian and US performances, especially among the youths. America's team is getting older (Burke and Bailey both in their 30s, Hakkinen over 35) so it's nice to see some new blood coming in there. Also impressed at there being several Croats, hopefully they can develop the sport there in the coming years and add somebody else to the mix.
 
Does SWE biathlon go on a major snatch and grab raid of X-C ranks; especially in the women? TBH, their womens X-C ranks are NOT full to the brim with likely world champions or even World Cup winners so it may be chance to switch to an event where they MAY see more intl success. Kalla is by far the standout but is hamstrung (1) by being primarily a skating specialist (2) by the presence of Bjoergen (and to a degree Kowalczyk & Johaug) who will consign her to podiums in races she would otherwise win. IF she is to make the jump, post Sochi is probably the last optimal time. Haag has gone backwards post 2010 AND Ingemarsdottir is purely a sprinter.

The Russian men DO look very strong and one would think they should leave Nove Mesto with at least some "coin". The women, however, really have looked rather sluggish and laboured on skies all season. Zaitseva remains the strong competitor she has been but even she's off her paste fromn last year (which was generally near the head of the echelon behind the greased lightning brigade). Vilukhina continues to make solid progress but the likes of Glazyrina, Shumilova and Yurlova seem to be just plodding around the tracks at approximately 4 miles per fortnight. Is it a technique issue or preparation or both ? Sleptsova ... what HAS happened there ??
 
Sleptsova had knee surgery in the off-season, and has been in and out of the team. She was sent home after poor performances, was invited along to the Worlds as a reserve but declined on the basis that she would rather race the national tournaments, IBU Regional or IBU Cup races and get back to things, rather than go to the Worlds as a reserve, and then either not race and lose two weeks, or race when she's in no fit state to compete at that level.

However, Pichler has been pretty open in the past about his "surprise" at the drop of Sleptsova's skiing level and the timing of it. Certainly a few years ago she was the fastest of the 1986 crop, bar Domracheva.

Ski speed amongst the women is a notable issue for the Russians. Yes, they've always been more about accuracy than pace, but Shipulin, Garanichev and especially in recent weeks Malyshko are no slouches, and Makoveev and Ustyugov are good as well. When I watched the Russian regional relay championship last March Alexey Slepov was tearing up the trails against World Cup level opposition, however in Antholz when he got his chance at the World Cup he wasn't all that quick. With the likes of Volkov in there as well and Tcherezov to return from injury at some point too it's hard to see just where the guys like Loginov and Tsvetkov will fit in, although Tsvetkov has seemed ready for the step up for some time. For the girls, however, it would make sense to rotate Podchufarova into the side; the other Russian junior women seemed like they'd just be following in the footsteps of the likes of Shumilova and Glazyrina; good shots but losing time on the trails. Podchufarova looks quick and shoots quickly too and is surely worth giving time to. As I said though, I think I'd rate Dahlmeier as the greater talent, simply as she's more clearly unpolished, therefore there's more obvious room for improvement. You never know, though. After all, Vilukhina took a couple of years between the Juniors and making the step up to be competitive at the World Cup level, so it's not like Perminova, Ankudinova or Pashkova can't make the step up, it's just that I don't think they will be a better option than the Shumilovas, Glazyrinas and even the Iourievas of this world for a while yet, whereas there is nothing to lose from letting Podchufarova see what she can do.

I wish Kaisheva had done the Juniors race though. She annihilated the youth field with ski speed, but would the extra distance have hurt her? She was so clearly the class of the field it was almost pointless putting her in for it, the same as how the Germans felt it a complete waste entering Franziska Preuß in the Youth category even though she's eligible, and they were proven right when she took 5th and 3rd in the Junior races. Is Kaisheva a talent on the same level as Preuß? It's hard to judge given the different opposition and distances, and that we didn't get to watch the Youth races, so I can't make any judgments on technique or shooting style for Kaisheva.

Edit: following on from the above, the Russians have announced their long-lists for the World Championships.

Men:
Evgeniy Garanichev
Andrey Makoveev
Dmitry Malyshko
Alexander Pechenkin
Anton Shipulin
Evgeniy Ustyugov
Alexey Volkov

Women:
Ekaterina Glazyrina
Olga Podchufarova
Ekaterina Shumilova
Svetlana Sleptsova
Irina Starykh
Olga Vilukhina
Ekaterina Yurlova
Olga Zaitseva
 
Thanks for the backgrounding on Sleptsova's knee injury as I wasn't aware of it. Saw her earlier season outings then saw she was dropped then hadn't even seen in IBU Cup ... so wondered. Back in 2010, she looked the most likely to come through and replace Zaitseva as the Russian no.1 and was generally the fastest of the Russians. The knee situation explains the recent situation but her decline into relative mediocrity has a longer duration .... are there problems between her ears and is she someone who's "spooked herself" out ?

The Russian men do look distinctly formidable and barring a total group melt-down, should walk away with a relay medal - a fair shot at the big one. Will be interesting to see whether they WILL risk Ustygov in the relay due to his tendency to implode on the standing shoot. Looking longer term, it will be interesting to see if Tcherezov can force his way back into the team for Sochi; the internal competition looks mighty formidable.

Thanks for the backgrounding on the juniors. My vewing is purely reliant on Eurosport and otherwise viewing results or odd livecast on IBU website. Again, very deeply appreciated
 
Sep 25, 2009
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More on sleptsova’s difficulties/injury/relations with pichler…

i picked this from her recent interviews and some discussions on a skisport forum.

First, pichler unambiguously told skisport, regardless of what he 'suspected' that he considers her a great talent. saying that whilst in another recent interview branding the entire team he currently heads as ‘strong, even but lacking a first-rate natural talent like …’ basically reveals his true thoughts on sleptsova’s inordinate potential.

that said, sleptsova herself hinted that her injury might have been the result of the new high intensity training programme introduced by pichler. All her public statements to-date are highly complimentary of pichler whilst many of her compatriots blame the german for all russian troubles.

pichler noted several times that he is nurturing sleptsova according to special schedule and therefore he was not perturbed by her 83 place in one domestic race...

She was indeed fast at one time but that strength was not even (she said she always felt weakness on flatter courses).

her head ? i don’t know much about that except she comes across as very direct and outspoken, with strong likes and dislikes regarding the places and conditions she competes in. for instance, she said once, she hates racing in scandinavia.
 

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