Nordic Skiing/Biathlon Thread

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Re:

Libertine Seguros said:
Yea, most races had been about the steep final climb in the men's races, although several times there had been incidents on it or at the top of it (most notably Jouve clattering into Krogh, he also tangled with one of the Norwegians later on). In the final Ustiugov went hard on the climb before it (which was proving most decisive in the women's races) and gapped people but on the final steep climb he just ran out of steam so while he probably got what he was aiming for (to the top at the front without traffic) he'd expended too much energy on getting up that climb to have the strength for the sprint.

By the end of the day people seemed to have worked out what was what but in the initial heats, it was a complete lottery and a demolition derby. This course today was absolutely why I maintain my position on sprints: they are a carnival side-show attraction that can be very entertaining once in a while, but should not be allowed to proliferate to the extent that they have one at nearly every World Cup meet. They're artificial and introduce too much of an element of luck, plus too much of this type of racing means the chances for real distance specialists to win are hugely limited compared to the chances for the sprinters, so there's no motivation to become a distance specialist, so the distance races become more processional and they do more sprints because they're less predictable.

For the men there's still a reasonably good spread of competitors across the distances, but women's distance racing is all but dead. There is every reason for a young female skier to want to ape somebody like Kikkan Randall, and absolutely no reason for a young female skier to be inspired by somebody like Kristin Størmer Steira anymore, because there is nothing to do in women's cross country for the type of athlete she was now, except to see if they can stay with Johaug for more than a kilometre before Therese almost literally runs off into the distance, and that's sad.
Nice write up. I agree with your statement on sprints. It's sad how many races are decided by either falls, obstruction, unnecessary tactics, over-aggressive moves and in some cases, courses that hardly allow for position change. Plus FIS needs to have more classic races and individual races on the WC calendar. You can add more of that type of racing and cutting a few mass starts/skate races down. It's actually pretty easy to make an even schedule. There are too many 'lotteries' as you and others have mentioned.

Another thing that's been talked about quite a few times on this board: the amount nations contending has decreased noticeably. I know Norway has absolutely dominated the WC this season, and that the Russian men, Pellegrino, De Fabbiani, Nilsson, the US women, the Finnish women (a little bit)...but where is everyone else? The Germans, to my knowledge have had only one podium, in a team sprint in Planica where their women finished 3rd. That's it. No individual podiums. Where are the French women? Where are the Italian women? There is only one Czech woman, one Swiss woman and one Austrian woman getting into the top 30 in the WC these past couple seasons. Slovaks have hardly had top women, and that woman, Prochazkova, is still competing, but is way off her best and not skiing that well. The Russian women we've talked about as well. They have their own issues, and there are several reasons why they are not that good at the moment. They have plenty of good young skiers, but transitioning from juniors/u23 to the WC circuit has proven to be tough for most of them. Slovenia is actually doing ok. They have about a half dozen women who can score WC points. It'll be interesting to see how much their U23 and Junior skiers are able to improve. I think they could be ones to watch out. The men: Finnish men!?!? Only Heikkinen is competing on a regular basis at this season. Niskanen has barely raced. Did ok at Holmenkollen, but hardly anything before and has he even raced since then??

I don't think we can excuse all of the non Norwegian federations of losing talented athletes to biathlon. Is there a lack of funding? Are they tired of seeing the Norwegians winning 80% of the races? Are the warm and dry winters playing a part as well? Is it something else? The German TV stations would put entire races on. Now they don't even show some of the races. The Canada Tour hasn't been streamed live and only short reports have been written. Not even short highlights of the races!! I know Biathlon has always been more popular, but they have almost totally ignored cross country. Yes, the Germans are not what they were 5-15 years ago. Behle and his men and women had a great run. A phenomenal run, one could say, but they were fortunate that those talented skiers all came up at almost the same time and were able to sustain good form enough to win wc titles, olympic medals, TDS stage wins, one overall TDS title, world championship titles, etc. I don't see too many good youngsters coming out of the juniors or u23's either. Only a select few. I may be wrong, but that doesn't bode well for them.

The North Americans, considering that this is such a fringe sport over there, are doing well. Ok, so the US women have done really well and have improved step by step since Vancouver. They too, like the Germans of the past, are relying on having talented women that have good camaraderie and are very close in age. Plus it's a country of 300 million+, so the chances of at least four or five good skiers are pretty good. The Canadian team, despite Harvey, are in trouble. Babikov and Kershaw are well into their 30's and they don't really have youngsters that make you say 'wow, that guy or girl is gonna be one to watch out...' Harvey, who is into his late 20's now, is more or less in his prime, and will probably be competitive for the next few years. He's been flying the flag the last four years. Kershaw had a few brilliant seasons, particularly 2011 and 2012, but he's gone downhill slowly but surely.

To conclude. It's a little bit disappointing to not see more of a representation of different countries at the top. At least in the top 10 or so.
 
The race tomorrow will be interesting. Ustiugov has a 16 second lead over Northug and 24 over Iversen. Will he try to push the pace from the start, making it tough for the Norwegians to catch him, or will he start steady and expect them to catch him at some point? I think he'll start steady and not risk blowing up and then getting into more trouble later on in the race and the tour itself. He's done just about everything right the first three stages. Yes, he may have gone too early, but if you are feeling good, why not try to see if people can hang? He was probably a meter or so form winning. Harvey and Gros were just close enough to catch the slipstream and were just able to pass him. Still, he gets to another podium and increases the lead on the Norwegians.
 
Sep 25, 2009
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Re: Re:

BullsFan22 said:
python said:
iversen, krogh and sundby under performing in THIS sprint, means the tour gc is likely eventually btwn ustiugov and northug. of course, the canmore can turn everything around...

today iverson paid the price for a poor selection of of a quarterfinal he had the freedom to exploit according to the new fis sprint rules...

so much better for for ustiugov.

based on what i've seen so far, i feel a 99% certainty ustiugov will winn the quebec sprint final. we should know in just 5 mins....

still, the several seconds gaps will mean nothing given the pursuit race we have tomorrow...

the gap needs to be 30+ seconds for any chaser to strain...tomorrow.

For some reason the feeds I was trying to watch the races on didn't work. How was the race? The final? Apparently, from the NRK ticker, they said that Hattestad wasn't happy with Ustiugov's aggressive skiing in the quarters. Luckily they both advanced. Then Hattestad was 'obstructed' by one of the French in the semi. Also looks like a number of big crashes in the men's field. Read that Ustiugov took the lead but ran out of gas a little bit and wasn't able to keep it going for the win. Is that about what happened? Wrong tactics? What about Northug? Didn't want to expend energy as he saw the Ustiugov wasn't going to gain many seconds, even if he won?

To me, it's now Ustiugov vs Northug. Of course, that could all change as soon as tomorrow. Iversen missed out and Sundby and Krogh tangled up and Krogh crashed. Those are important developments for Ustiugov and Northug.

You must be as thrilled as I am for Stina!!
regarding the finals and the race dynamic it was pretty much as the other posters already said...ustiugov ran out of steam, perhaps to my disappointment, but that's what racing is about. he did however gain on all his norwegian rivals and i can almost hear knaute saying to seryozha just that - 'you beat them'.

yep, stina made my day, my night, my fandom. i feel like she's a perfect nordic young lady - tall, blond, gorgeous, smart, tough yet very feminine and humble !

tomorrow is going to be exciting...ustiugov will start 17 sec ahead of petter and 25 sec ahead iverson. clearly, it will be a time trial between the 3 of them with the others vying for the 4th spot minutes behind...

if the previous racing record could suggest a scenario, it would be reasonable to expect that northug will wait for iversen to work together chasing ustiugov. that's something serhey must be planning for. the best tactic imo would be for him to increase the gap to 30+ seconds in the 1st 5-7 km. i understand the terrain wont be very challenging to do that....
 
BullsFan22 said:
The race tomorrow will be interesting. Ustiugov has a 16 second lead over Northug and 24 over Iversen. Will he try to push the pace from the start, making it tough for the Norwegians to catch him, or will he start steady and expect them to catch him at some point? I think he'll start steady and not risk blowing up and then getting into more trouble later on in the race and the tour itself. He's done just about everything right the first three stages. Yes, he may have gone too early, but if you are feeling good, why not try to see if people can hang? He was probably a meter or so form winning. Harvey and Gros were just close enough to catch the slipstream and were just able to pass him. Still, he gets to another podium and increases the lead on the Norwegians.
I think he should try to make it as hard as possible for Northug to catch up and crack Iversen in the process.


About sprints: While much of what Libertine has mentioned is certainly true, I still find Sprints very enjoyable. Despite the lottery factor, you usually end up with the same folks in the finals. And it's the type of racing I'd enjoy most if I were a xc skier, although I wouldn't be very good at it :D
But I just love to see them go as fast as they can, it really gets my adrenaline going. And it's not as if Individual starts didn't have downsides too.
 
Sprints have their place, in a balanced calendar. The problem is, FIS seem to want to balance "sprints" evenly against this vague, unclear concept of "distance" which seems to consist of any race from 5km to 50km, in either style, and mass start or individual start.

My idea of a balanced calendar would have all of the below

Sprints (F & C)
short mass start distance races (F & C)
short individual start distance races (F & C)
medium distance (F & C)
skiathlon
long distance mass start (F & C)
long distance individual start (F & C)
relays (F & C)

Relays would probably be relatively marginalised owing to the limited number of competitive countries nowadays, while the "true" long distance races like the 50k would be special attraction, once a year/twice a year type things; the others could be relatively evenly split.

Obviously in such a calendar, you'd be seeing fewer sprints than we do now, which would also make the ones that we did have less predictable and more of a special attraction, which is the role I think it should fulfil. In 2013-14 the sprints accounted for nearly 50% of the calendar, and Lillehammer was the only venue on the entire calendar that didn't have a sprint. I don't favour the eradication of the sprint, but I think its role should be as an occasional change of pace, to add spice to the calendar, rather than to be the entire base stock. They can be exciting but because of the number of accidents and the way they can affect the overall I'd rather they not be responsible for such a huge % of the points available in the World Cup.

In my ideal world, also, the Team Sprint would be obliterated entirely, it is a pathetic and execrable format and the sooner it goes away the better.
 
Sep 25, 2009
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Re:

Cance > TheRest said:
The King to take silver medal !!!? :)
still no one could match fourcade's speed. i felt oeb was a bit too deliberate aiming...could that be the margin he needed for a gold ? then, fourcade was also not machine-gunning...
 
Apr 22, 2012
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Re:

Cance > TheRest said:
The King to take silver medal !!!? :)
The King of the King takes gold.

Sadly Semenov didn't make it, I was firmly convinced that he will, but Norwegian timing, you know...
 
Apr 22, 2012
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Re: Re:

python said:
Cance > TheRest said:
The King to take silver medal !!!? :)
still no one could match fourcade's speed. i felt oeb was a bit too deliberate aiming...could that be the margin he needed for a gold ? then, fourcade was also not machine-gunning...
Ole shot both faster than Fourcade, stand very fast, like 23 seconds. No, it certainly wasn't margin for gold.
 
Re: Re:

Kokoso said:
python said:
Cance > TheRest said:
The King to take silver medal !!!? :)
still no one could match fourcade's speed. i felt oeb was a bit too deliberate aiming...could that be the margin he needed for a gold ? then, fourcade was also not machine-gunning...
Ole shot both faster than Fourcade, stand very fast, like 23 seconds. No, it certainly wasn't margin for gold.
Actually Fourcade had the fastest range time on 2nd shooting . . .

But I agree, that Fourcade was unbeatable today with his ski speed. However, for a 42 year old athlete to beat the rest of 20-somethings is just a much bigger performance, in my world.
 
Nah, Fourcade's last lap was just too strong. Bø tried to shoot fast to be able to compete but the one mistake cost him a medal. OEB lost about 15 seconds to Fourcade on that final lap. A couple of years ago Fourcade lost a sprint here when he was in the middle order and he hit his targets, was ahead of all the big names and coasted around the final loop round the stadium, doing his little jump and his unclipping celebration, then lost the race when Arnd Peiffer from the late starters had a strong final lap and sprinted to the line to beat him by under a second, so he kept his foot on the gas throughout here with all the big names starting later.

Very interesting battle for the medals in the pursuit though, with Garanichev, Schempp, Johannes Bø and Peiffer so close at hand.
 
Apr 22, 2012
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Re: Re:

Cance > TheRest said:
Kokoso said:
python said:
Cance > TheRest said:
The King to take silver medal !!!? :)
still no one could match fourcade's speed. i felt oeb was a bit too deliberate aiming...could that be the margin he needed for a gold ? then, fourcade was also not machine-gunning...
Ole shot both faster than Fourcade, stand very fast, like 23 seconds. No, it certainly wasn't margin for gold.
Actually Fourcade had the fastest range time on 2nd shooting . . .

But I agree, that Fourcade was unbeatable today with his ski speed. However, for a 42 year old athlete to beat the rest of 20-somethings is just a much bigger performance, in my world.
For me it's "retire and leave it to younger, more needful guys who don't miss out doping controls" performance.
 
Re: Re:

Cance > TheRest said:
Kokoso said:
python said:
Cance > TheRest said:
The King to take silver medal !!!? :)
still no one could match fourcade's speed. i felt oeb was a bit too deliberate aiming...could that be the margin he needed for a gold ? then, fourcade was also not machine-gunning...
Ole shot both faster than Fourcade, stand very fast, like 23 seconds. No, it certainly wasn't margin for gold.
Actually Fourcade had the fastest range time on 2nd shooting . . .

But I agree, that Fourcade was unbeatable today with his ski speed. However, for a 42 year old athlete to beat the rest of 20-somethings is just a much bigger performance, in my world.
That motor home is really paying off!
 
Apr 22, 2012
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Re:

Libertine Seguros said:
Bø tried to shoot fast to be able to compete
On the contrary Johannes controlled prone and shoot slower than usually, standing he missed first target so it was all or nothing then.
 
Re:

Libertine Seguros said:
Nah, Fourcade's last lap was just too strong. Bø tried to shoot fast to be able to compete but the one mistake cost him a medal. OEB lost about 15 seconds to Fourcade on that final lap. A couple of years ago Fourcade lost a sprint here when he was in the middle order and he hit his targets, was ahead of all the big names and coasted around the final loop round the stadium, doing his little jump and his unclipping celebration, then lost the race when Arnd Peiffer from the late starters had a strong final lap and sprinted to the line to beat him by under a second, so he kept his foot on the gas throughout here with all the big names starting later.

Very interesting battle for the medals in the pursuit though, with Garanichev, Schempp, Johannes Bø and Peiffer so close at hand.
Knowing how you LOVE Martin's little celebrations, if you scroll down to the last video on this link you can see his little bunny hop with telemark landing just before the mixed relay finish. If you watch it over and over you can probably steam your vegetables for lunch!

http://www.ski-nordique.net/la-france-championne-du-monde.5851863-72348.html
 
Sep 25, 2009
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...back to one yesterday's curious moment.

did anyone notice how ustiugov went with his fist for the hattestad's head ? it looked like an angry reaction to 2 norwegians trying to box him in as he was acceleration between them.

at the finish both exchanged some smile-free looks and words (though i am not sure what language they used b/c ustiugov does not speak english). i did not notice hattestad doing anything not normally done in a sprint. yet ustiugov was very agressive - which i actually liked - but would hate him to lose the tour for getting a red card.

i dont think he got one this time.
 
Re: Re:

frenchfry said:
Cance > TheRest said:
Kokoso said:
python said:
Cance > TheRest said:
The King to take silver medal !!!? :)
still no one could match fourcade's speed. i felt oeb was a bit too deliberate aiming...could that be the margin he needed for a gold ? then, fourcade was also not machine-gunning...
Ole shot both faster than Fourcade, stand very fast, like 23 seconds. No, it certainly wasn't margin for gold.
Actually Fourcade had the fastest range time on 2nd shooting . . .

But I agree, that Fourcade was unbeatable today with his ski speed. However, for a 42 year old athlete to beat the rest of 20-somethings is just a much bigger performance, in my world.
That motor home is really paying off!
First when the gold in men's relay has been secured, it will finally have payed off :)
 
Re:

python said:
...back to one yesterday's curious moment.

did anyone notice how ustiugov went with his fist for the hattestad's head ? it looked like an angry reaction to 2 norwegians trying to box him in as he was acceleration between them.

at the finish both exchanged some smile-free looks and words (though i am not sure what language they used b/c ustiugov does not speak english). i did not notice hattestad doing anything not normally done in a sprint. yet ustiugov was very agressive - which i actually liked - but would hate him to lose the tour for getting a red card.

i dont think he got one this time.
Read about it in the norwegian media. While the Norwegians are likely exaggerating, it's still a very inappropriate act of Ustiugov. A smaller time penalty would be fair, to keep the excitement in the overall.
 
Re: Re:

Cance > TheRest said:
python said:
...back to one yesterday's curious moment.

did anyone notice how ustiugov went with his fist for the hattestad's head ? it looked like an angry reaction to 2 norwegians trying to box him in as he was acceleration between them.

at the finish both exchanged some smile-free looks and words (though i am not sure what language they used b/c ustiugov does not speak english). i did not notice hattestad doing anything not normally done in a sprint. yet ustiugov was very agressive - which i actually liked - but would hate him to lose the tour for getting a red card.

i dont think he got one this time.
Read about it in the norwegian media. While the Norwegians are likely exaggerating, it's still a very inappropriate act of Ustiugov. A smaller time penalty would be fair, to keep the excitement in the overall.
They tried to close the door aggressively on him. Hattestad started whining after they crossed the finish. He was the one who went to Ustiugov first. Agree that Ustiugov shouldn't have reacted the way he did, but he wouldn't have done anything had Hattestad kept his cool. They both advanced. I think had Hattestad NOT advanced, I am sure FIS would have done something. It is the Norwegians after all. They usually get what they want.

Plus, if you look at the other heats, lot of extra curricular activity going during and after the heats. Crashes, obstruction, trying to get through gaps that don't exist, etc. The most notable one was between Andrew Young and Erik Bjornsen. Bjornsen repeatedly kept closing the door, cutting Young off, and Young pushed Bjornsen, almost bringing him down as they crossed the finish. He then followed Bjornsen in the finish area and they exchanged pleasantries. I think if Ustiugov had gotten a card, Young should have also. That was more egregious to me. As I said, crashes, obstructions, pushing, shoving, cutting people off were seen yesterday. This is what you get in narrow corridors and 6 fast people in each heat. It would have been very harsh to give Ustiugov a red card. A yellow card? Possibly, but not to kick him out of the race. Considering he is Russian, them not giving him even a warning makes me think the jury felt it was nothing serious. Hopefully he and Hattestad talked to each other after the race and sorted out their differences. No need to kick anyone out, in my opinion.
 
Re: Re:

frenchfry said:
Libertine Seguros said:
Nah, Fourcade's last lap was just too strong. Bø tried to shoot fast to be able to compete but the one mistake cost him a medal. OEB lost about 15 seconds to Fourcade on that final lap. A couple of years ago Fourcade lost a sprint here when he was in the middle order and he hit his targets, was ahead of all the big names and coasted around the final loop round the stadium, doing his little jump and his unclipping celebration, then lost the race when Arnd Peiffer from the late starters had a strong final lap and sprinted to the line to beat him by under a second, so he kept his foot on the gas throughout here with all the big names starting later.

Very interesting battle for the medals in the pursuit though, with Garanichev, Schempp, Johannes Bø and Peiffer so close at hand.
Knowing how you LOVE Martin's little celebrations, if you scroll down to the last video on this link you can see his little bunny hop with telemark landing just before the mixed relay finish. If you watch it over and over you can probably steam your vegetables for lunch!

http://www.ski-nordique.net/la-france-championne-du-monde.5851863-72348.html
To tell the truth, I wasn't that bothered by him winning today. By the time most of the people I cheer for were on course, I'd already come to terms with the fact he was likely to win. Because he made such a mess up in this event when he lost to Peiffer while showboating before, he didn't do anything silly, because he was going early and apart from Shipulin he had no idea how the others behind him would perform so he didn't dare play to the crowd, and he hit all the targets and is the best skier among men's biathletes as we all know. I'm no OEB supporter either and dislike the relentless sycophancy that follows him around as well, so yea.

But I trust you also cheer for Eric Frenzel, Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Therese Johaug?
 
Re: Re:

Libertine Seguros said:
frenchfry said:
Libertine Seguros said:
Nah, Fourcade's last lap was just too strong. Bø tried to shoot fast to be able to compete but the one mistake cost him a medal. OEB lost about 15 seconds to Fourcade on that final lap. A couple of years ago Fourcade lost a sprint here when he was in the middle order and he hit his targets, was ahead of all the big names and coasted around the final loop round the stadium, doing his little jump and his unclipping celebration, then lost the race when Arnd Peiffer from the late starters had a strong final lap and sprinted to the line to beat him by under a second, so he kept his foot on the gas throughout here with all the big names starting later.

Very interesting battle for the medals in the pursuit though, with Garanichev, Schempp, Johannes Bø and Peiffer so close at hand.
Knowing how you LOVE Martin's little celebrations, if you scroll down to the last video on this link you can see his little bunny hop with telemark landing just before the mixed relay finish. If you watch it over and over you can probably steam your vegetables for lunch!

http://www.ski-nordique.net/la-france-championne-du-monde.5851863-72348.html
To tell the truth, I wasn't that bothered by him winning today. By the time most of the people I cheer for were on course, I'd already come to terms with the fact he was likely to win. Because he made such a mess up in this event when he lost to Peiffer while showboating before, he didn't do anything silly, because he was going early and apart from Shipulin he had no idea how the others behind him would perform so he didn't dare play to the crowd, and he hit all the targets and is the best skier among men's biathletes as we all know. I'm no OEB supporter either and dislike the relentless sycophancy that follows him around as well, so yea.

But I trust you also cheer for Eric Frenzel, Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Therese Johaug?
I tend to cheer for the French! You have to admit that Fourcade has total control over what he does, in a sport where nerves can be the big problem.

I probably cheered for OEB 15 years ago, not so much now.

I like Johaug, but would like her more if the margins of her victories were smaller.

Not much opinion on Sunby and Frenzel.

Are we headed for 3 French golds in a row, X-country and biathlon combined. Answer in a few minutes...
 

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