Nordic Skiing/Biathlon Thread

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Thanks for those comments re the Pichler situation. My field of reference is from start of 2009-2010 season (when Eurosport commenced service down here). My recollection on her speed was that on her day, she was up with the fastest and as a general rule was in that next echelon of skiers behind the fastest,

I'd heard of her comments about her dislikes; ie "I hate racing in Scandinavia .... wawawawa" and that brought about my query about her mindset. If you're going to go about yr business starting with a negative mental attitude about locations that make up a goodly quota of your races (lets face it Ostersund and Holmenkollen are fixtures every season and FIN may also host WCups); then aren't you "screwing yourself" before you start ?

I like Sleptsova. She does have a first rate talent; she certainly HAS personality ... and from some reports more than a little charm. Just think it's a shame that her mindset on certain issues seems to be counter-productive.

Now from a skiing aesthetic perspective; I'd love to watch Domracheva v Kalla head to head .... if only:rolleyes:
 
Germany have issued their World Championships list, although they acknowledge it is not complete as they have an entitlement to six and, with further national competitions this weekend an additional selection is possible. The confirmed entrants are as follows:

Men:
Andreas Birnbacher
Florian Graf
Erik Lesser
Arnd Peiffer
Simon Schempp

Women:
Laura Dahlmeier
Miriam Gößner
Andrea Henkel
Franziska Hildebrand
Nadine Horchler

The men's nominations seem pretty straightforward; that's been Germany's entry list for most of the year. It's a lineup which does not lack quality, but does lack that bit of strength to make it into a top team; Birnbacher, when fit, is one of the best in the world, but he is realistically the only chance of a victory. Peiffer in years gone by has got stronger as the season goes on and, on his day, can be blindingly quick and a challenge for anyone, but this season, after a promising start at Östersund, it's just never really gone anywhere this year. Schempp shows promise but it seems he can be a good shot OR good on the trails, he seldom seems to get everything right together. Lesser is reliable in individual start formats but seems to get too caught up in what other people are doing in the mass starts; at the last two relays he's overstretched himself trying to stay with faster skiers, at Ruhpolding blowing up on the final lap, and at Antholz melting down in the standing shoot. However, his career is definitely on the up this year, and he could do well in the Individual. Graf is decent but at the moment at least is a team player, not a star.

For the women, most of the selections are no-brainers. Andrea Henkel is the experienced hand on the team, the reliable result-getter who the team need. Gößner is their one true threat to win races, as if her ski form is there, she's a threat to win anything, because nobody can handle her. She's the big draw factor for German biathlon right now, because win or lose, she's always entertaining - and she could do anything on any given day. And the thing that's scary is she could get even quicker. Horchler has shown that she is a good top level talent in recent weeks; she doesn't shoot fast, but she seldom misses (39/40 in Antholz), and is slow but improving on the trails, while Hildebrand is generally pretty reliable with the gun, and again is improving on the trails; she's an excellent lead-off in the relay.

The interesting pick is Dahlmeier. It's true that she was amazing in the Junior Worlds, and it's a good opportunity for her to take in the experience with a view to the future, but I wouldn't expect her to race unless there is illness or injury, as the 'safest' place to give somebody a go with no expectations is the Individual, but then that's the place Horchler and Hildebrand are most likely to have success, and if there IS an illness or injury, she's thrown in at the deep end in the relay... depending on whether a 6th woman goes, of course. The choices would appear to be Kathrin Lang (pros: at her best, she was top 15-20 in the world. Cons: not really race-fit, only six months off giving birth, may not want to spend 2 weeks away from the family as well), Tina Bachmann (pros: has been part of the relay team for most of the season, former medallist at the Worlds. Cons: ski form has deserted her this year, was recently removed from the World Cup squad for poor performance, so it would then be odd to recall her just a couple of weeks later), Maren Hammerschmidt (pros: quite reliable, good pursuit at Antholz. Cons: not very quick on the skis, has been critical of selectors in the past) and Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle (pros: has been very good on the IBU Cup. Cons: hasn't been very good - or quick - on the World Cup).

For the future, it could well look good with Dahlmeier, Preuß and Hinz (not to mention Marion Deigentesch in the Youth category) to join a young team likely to be led by Gößner, and hopefully Hitzer/Lang and Bachmann can regain their form of a couple of years ago. The men I have more reason to worry about. Peiffer should, after the last two seasons, have developed into the squad leader but he hasn't seemed to have gone anywhere this season, while Schempp has the potential to be a good hand, but I don't see anybody at the moment who's likely to match up to Fourcade, Fak, Svendsen and the Russian cadre, or who's likely to match up to the crop of Russian and Norwegian youngsters coming through at the moment either.
 
roundabout said:
Isn't there some sort of qualification criteria?

An A-norm and a B-norm?

Or you can fill up the remaining places with anyone you want even if they didn't meet the qualification criteria?
There is some kind of qualification criteria. There are a few ways to get qualification though. I guess all of these might be 'B' norms but I'm not sure.

I think it goes like this:
Dahlmeier's qualified because of her Junior World Championships performances.
Evi's qualified by winning IBU Cup races
Maren's qualified by scoring WC points in the pursuit at Antholz
Bachmann's definitely scored WC points with several performances in the first half of the season

Lang's the only one I can't see how she'd qualified, but many German fans seem to think she can, and perhaps should, go.
 
Youth Individuals were yesterday, didn't catch much info.

Kaisheva wrecked the women's youth field again, with 2 misses, same as silver medallist Yuliya Zhuravok, but 1'20 ahead of the Ukrainian. Another Ukrainian, Anastasiya Merkushyna, was 3rd, at 1'32 with 3 misses, so suggesting Kaisheva's Loipe wasn't quite as dominant as in the sprint+pursuit. Pursuit medallists Vishnevskaya and Deigentesch missed 4 and tumbled down the order to the fringes of the top 20. Sweden's woes continued with Lotte Sjöden placing 32nd, but their other two entries recording a DNF and a DNS.

Frenchman Aristide Begue won the Youth Individual last year thanks to good shooting, and he did it again this year in similar fashion, shooting 19/20 to finish just 5 seconds ahead of pursuit winner Sean Doherty of USA, who shot 17/20 and clearly outskied the Frenchman. Early starter Anton Myhda of Ukraine made up the podium, with his 1 penalty enabling him to hold off the challenges of the hard-charging Niklas Homberg of Germany (who climbed from 22nd to 5th in the pursuit, but missed 3 shots here) and double medallist from the sprint and pursuit Rene Zahkna of Estonia, who also missed 3. A bit of a glimmer of light for the Swedes too, as Per Niklas Forsberg finished 11th with 4 penalties; cut it down to 2 and he'd have been on the podium, so he's in a decent spot for ski speed at least. Amazingly, no Russian made the top 15.

The Junior Men will be coming up later today, but the Junior Women's race this morning has already taken place and it's a second gold for Germany's rising starlet Laura Dahlmeier. The 19-year-old shot deliberately to score 18/20 and set the fastest course time in order to finish ahead of promising Austrian Lisa Theresa Hauser and Dahlmeier's teammate Franziska Preuß, who both shot the same record but finished 40" and 1'00" behind her respectively. A surprise was Slovakia's Paulina Fialková finishing 4th despite 3 misses, while Orsolya Tofalvi, younger sister of Eva, made a shock 5th for Romania thanks to an extremely impressive 20/20 shooting performance, but she was already 3 minutes back on Dahlmeier, so add in the 2 penalties for the German and we're talking 5 minutes' deficit. Thekla Brun-Lie, thanks to only 3 penalties, outperformed teammate Fenne, who had 6 but still finished at 3'43. Her ski time was 20" slower than Dahlmeier's so she must have caught up over 30" in the range. The weekend's other heroine, Olga Podchufarova, who like Dahlmeier will be going to Nové Město despite lacking World Cup experience, finished 12th, 4'18 down after 5 penalties, so giving up over a minute to Dahlmeier all told.

The women's relay looks like being a two horse race, Germany with Hinz-Preuß-Dahlmeier against Russia with Ankhudinova-Perminova-Podchufarova, but France could be useful. I expect Chevalier and Latuillière to be 2 of the 3 but who takes the 3rd spot out of Varcin (an excellent 10th in the pursuit) or Parisse (an impressive 7th today) could be key. Norway, if Kristoffersen can organise her shooting after more struggles today, could be a challenger with Brun-Lie and Fenne.

(Edit to add Junior Men)

Aleksandr Loginov doubled up his gold medals, shooting 18/20 to take the Individual. Shooting was the key to the other medal positions, with both 2nd and 3rd placed athletes shooting 19/20. 3rd went to Clément Dumont of France, but more significantly 2nd place went to the comparative outsider Dino Butkević, who by picking up the silver today picks up Croatia's first ever biathlon medal.

The first time to beat was set by Johannes Bø, who along with Tsvetkov and Loginov were the men to beat on the skis. However, 16/20 wasn't a good enough shooting record to last to the end, and Ukraine's Ruslan Tkalenko quickly overhauled him by 26 seconds, but with 2 fewer misses. Key names from the weekend came and went - Tsvetkov blitzed the trails but shot poorly, with 5 penalties, and Rees and Fillon-Maillet missed 3 and 4 respectively without the ski speed to overhaul their losses to Tkalenko. The Ukrainian sat in the hot seat for a long time, before in the upper mid-order he was deposed in order by all three eventual medallists. A few athletes going later had the chance to interject themselves into proceedings, with Norwegians Vegård Gjermundshaug (eventually 4th +1'16) and Erling Aalvik (eventually 7th +1'34) and the German Korbinian Raschke (eventually 5th +1'25) all being in positions to medal before missing a shot at the final standing to fall out of contention.

For the Junior Men, Russia are obviously the team to beat in the relay, as they could probably put a corpse on leg 3 after Tsvetkov and Loginov and still win, but Timur Makhambetov has been in the top 15 all week too so he's no scrub. Norway will obviously have Bø, but Christiansen didn't start today or in the pursuit, so will he race? If so, Gjermundshaug and Aalvik will need to fight over the final spot. Raschke and Rees make a fairly strong German team, with presumably Ketzer to take the third spot, but they will need some luck on their side to finish in the top 2, I think.
 
Gössner will compete at the nordic Ski championchips.
Relay and 10km freestyle

I like her attitude. She just wants to compete and doesn't mind if she'll not be on top.
Neuner never competed among cross country skiers as she feared that this might harm her image if she gets beaten there.
Neuher was all about media and marketing. It's good to see that Gössner is different.
 
Not a bad call given the performances of the GER women XC, esp in skating. Hermann has had an excellent season but no-one else has shown any consistent form. Miri would have to have been a major contender for one skating leg.

NOR look a lock for the women's relay Gold; question will be who picks up minor coin. Can USA put 4 consistent legs together to give Randall a medal shot on the final leg ? Their other girls started the season well but have all tapered off. Will the front three legs for SWE keep them in touch ... or leave Kalla to perform another rescue mission ?
 
dirkprovin said:
Not a bad call given the performances of the GER women XC, esp in skating. Hermann has had an excellent season but no-one else has shown any consistent form. Miri would have to have been a major contender for one skating leg.

NOR look a lock for the women's relay Gold; question will be who picks up minor coin. Can USA put 4 consistent legs together to give Randall a medal shot on the final leg ? Their other girls started the season well but have all tapered off. Will the front three legs for SWE keep them in touch ... or leave Kalla to perform another rescue mission ?
Zeller, Fessel, Herrmann, Gössner

I think they have a decent shot for silver
 
Bavarianrider said:
Gössner will compete at the nordic Ski championchips.
Relay and 10km freestyle

I like her attitude. She just wants to compete and doesn't mind if she'll not be on top.
Neuner never competed among cross country skiers as she feared that this might harm her image if she gets beaten there.
Neuher was all about media and marketing. It's good to see that Gössner is different.
I think she'll win the 10 km, or at least podium. I mean Tora Berger is pretty competitive vs normal XC skiers, and Gössner is much, much faster than Tora...

The Olympics course for next year looked pretty good. It was hard enough for the race to split up even with snow and a horribly prepared course. Two of the most resilient and endurance-based athletes, Steira and Cologna, both won easily.
 
maltiv said:
I think she'll win the 10 km, or at least podium. I mean Tora Berger is pretty competitive vs normal XC skiers, and Gössner is much, much faster than Tora...

The Olympics course for next year looked pretty good. It was hard enough for the race to split up even with snow and a horribly prepared course. Two of the most resilient and endurance-based athletes, Steira and Cologna, both won easily.
Indeed.
That long climb on the skating round seems very selective. Not a Northug track at all. No way in hell Northug can win the 30km or the 50km on this track in 2014.
I hope they will use this climb fpr the 15km classic race in 2014, too. Would be a lot better then doing 4 loops on the classic track.
 
Mar 4, 2010
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Bavarianrider said:
Gössner will compete at the nordic Ski championchips.
Relay and 10km freestyle

I like her attitude. She just wants to compete and doesn't mind if she'll not be on top.
Neuner never competed among cross country skiers as she feared that this might harm her image if she gets beaten there.
Neuher was all about media and marketing. It's good to see that Gössner is different.
That's harsh. It's easy for Gössner to compete at the XC worlds when it's after the biathlon worlds and before the next WC and she'd need a miracle to win the overall anyway. I don't think Neuner ever had a decent opportunity to participate in a major XC event without sacrificing equally important biathlon races, which would have been downright stupid. Except for the XC-relay in Vancouver, where I guess she could have screwed Miriam out of the highlight of her season for a shot at a 4th medal.

I'd be quite surprised if Gössner beats Bjørgen and Kalla. Bronze is a more realistic target, imo. Kaisa barely beat Roponen.

Hoping for Domracheva to show as well.
 
It's worth noting that while biathletes have done well against XC specialists in recent weeks (Kaisa winning the nationals, Berger in the Norwegian national relay, Mari Laukkanen even beating Randall in a sprint recently), that the Biathlon World Championships are up very soon, whereas the XC skiers are likely on a down period between the peak for the Tour de Ski and the peak for the World Championships.

I hope Gößner can get a medal, but I wouldn't consider it nailed-on. And I say that as somebody who's been hyping Miri as the second coming for about 3 years now. While she's still been the fastest biathlete in every race she's entered (she broke Neuner's record for consecutive fastest course times, a streak that only ended cos she failed to qualify for the pursuit at Antholz, as she was then the fastest in the relay), the margins by which she's been the best have not been as extreme recently as they were in, say, Pokljuka, although Pokljuka has some seriously tough trails that assist her in that.

I did say before the season that she should break through, and on form she really IS that quick. I was wrong on one thing, though. I said that she was not as quick as Neuner. Miri, this season, has averaged 2,7% faster than the average of the top 10 skiers of the day. The best Neuner managed over a full season in her career was 2,2% faster than that. So even if Miri can't sustain the pace, she'll still post a percentage on a par with most of her former roommate's scores.
 
Sep 25, 2009
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some impressions from sochi…

-Individual sprints.
northug qualified in the mid pack. thus, rather than being a 4-minute aerobic monster, he is a monsterous 30-seconds kicker and a master tactician. when his jets go on at the precisely calculated moments, nothing can be done. he knows it, his competition knows it, yet he could not be stopped… the russians were defeated.. the swedes defeated themselves. emil jönsson explained it best
http://nyheter24.se/sport/vinterkanalen/annaochemil/2013/02/02/da-tar-vi-nya-tagssian

i was also surprised by the whining of the russian head sprint coach. indeed the russians rarely whine but the chap explained his sprinters fiasco by the fact that the sochi course was designed by....... a norwegian :confused::rolleyes:

-Skiathlon.
cologna should be very happy with the series taking a confident second in the sprint and neatly outsmarting every one in the skiathlon. petter and the russians were outclassed. petter likely paid for his obsession with intermediate wc points and the russians paid for failing to ‘close the door’ on the last long hill despite having the numbers.

-other impressions
the host nation should be feeling rather mixed but hopeful. otoh, they failed to take any medals in the discipline they are particularly strong - the sprint - despite literally saturating the final. on the other, they controlled men’s skiathlon almost to perfection and would sweep the podium had it not been for cologna’s brilliance. i noticed legkov‘s new-found consistency. perhaps his coaching by reto burgermeister is starting to pay off… he was at the front all along and sprinted as often as northug for the points, but unlike northug did not implode at the end. in that regard, young sergey ustiugov may grow into a northug-size superstar…he swept all individual gold at the junior worlds last year, 2 golds at the u23 worlds this year and was the best ‘adult’ russian sprinter in sochi ! all after the very intense competition season. watch out for this kid. He can sprint and is currently the best young distance skier in the world.

-very surprised by justyna kowalczyk’s breakdown. besides her complaining about pain in the legs, i have heard nothing close to a satisfactory explanation. Perhaps she needs rest.
 
Teams are out for the Mixed Relay at the World Champs tomorrow.

The usual suspects are strong, Norway (Berger-Solemdal-Bø-Svendsen) and Russia (Zaitseva-Vilukhina-Shipulin-Malyshko) are the strongest teams on paper, but there are plenty who could challenge them (especially bearing in mind Bø's level is still unsure since he missed so much time at the start of the season though he has been targeting these Worlds). France (Brunet-Dorin-Bœuf-Fourcade) are probably the most obvious challengers, and as long as Brunet doesn't lose too much time on the skis they will no doubt be in the hunt as Martin Fourcade can make some serious gains on the final leg. Germany (Henkel-Gößner-Schempp-Birnbacher) can blow hot or cold; a lot will depend on Miri's performance in the range, as Schempp has a lot of promise but seems to either be fast or accurate and seldom both, while Birnbacher's shooting is top notch but his ski speed a little behind last year. Lacking the same star factor, the hosts (Vítková-Soukalová-Soukup-Moravec) nevertheless have an extremely strong team who could contest for at least the podium. Soukup's form will be key, as the others are going to need a good day in the range. Soukalová and Moravec are far from the worst skiers out there but they will be up against the likes of Gößner, Solemdal, Fourcade and Svendsen. I think Gabriela Soukalová still wakes up in a cold sweat looking over her shoulder and seeing Gößner. Slovenia (Mali-Gregorin-Bauer-Fak) also are lower on star factor (though Fak is a top name at present of course) but Mali and Gregorin are consistently in the top 30 in the world (Gregorin higher) and Klemen Bauer has been very good on his day many times before. And of course, they got the silver medal in this event last year, finishing first but Norway passing them on a time adjustment.

Those are the teams I expect to contest the win, but there are others who could have an outside chance at doing something, mostly teams from mostly one-gender countries who will need either for their women not to give the men too much to do (Sweden, Austria) or for their men to raise their game to not lose any advantages their women may give them (Belarus, Finland). Italy (Wierer-Oberhofer-D Windisch-Hofer) have a team that is consistent throughout, but just a level down on where they would need to be to contest the win; Switzerland (E Gasparin-S Gasparin-Böckli-Weger) have a strong contender and a peripheral challenger in each gender; the USA (Cook-Dunklee-Bailey-Nordgren) have a reasonable team that is a bit like the Italian one, though Lowell Bailey is typically pretty good in the shorter events so they may rank well.

Sweden (Högberg-Jonsson-Ferry-Lindström) will hope that they don't lose too much on the trails before the final leg, where if he's got the form right Fredrik Lindström could do well in this; Ukraine (Dzhyma-Burdyga-Deryzemlya-Sednev) have rested the Semerenkos and Pidhrushna so clearly don't rate their chances of medalling, which is a shame as both the men have good results in their history. Slovakia (Gerekova-Kuzmina-Hurajt-Kazar), Belarus (Skardino-Domracheva-Abramenko-Novikov) and Finland (Laukkanen-Mäkäräinen-Kauppinen-Toivanen) all follow the formula of "strong female competitor-world class female competitor-two less competitive men who will try to stay in contention", while Poland (Pałka-Gwizdoń-Szczurek-Pływaczyk) follow that, but are slightly less strong. If the Austrians (Schwabl-Schrempf-Eberhard-Landertinger) can duplicate their women's strong performance in the relay at Antholz, they will have an outside shot at a medal, although the below full-strength men's lineup suggests they're not banking on it.
 
meat puppet said:
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 history too. IMO Punkkinen should get the same suspicion as Bruyneel, Leinders, Ibarguren, etc.
Sorry for the late question.

Could you tell me the circumstances of the race?

I know it was 10k free, but was it individual or mass start? If it was individual:

What was her starting order? The later you start the more times you can measure your self to.
Did she get someone to follow during the race? This can really help during individual start.
Was there any change in conditions during the event? Changing conditions can have a huge impact on the final results.

Also I can see on the FIS site that Krista L did not start. She is the one I would rate highest among the Finns in freestyle.


As for the Clinic stuff. I've only seen the documentary once, and haven't had time to comment on it in the clinic. But hopefully Punkkinen has changed his ways over the last 20 years. I do however think/hope that any association with him entails increased scrutiny by the testers.
 
python said:
some impressions from sochi…

-Individual sprints.
northug qualified in the mid pack. thus, rather than being a 4-minute aerobic monster, he is a monsterous 30-seconds kicker and a master tactician. when his jets go on at the precisely calculated moments, nothing can be done. he knows it, his competition knows it, yet he could not be stopped… the russians were defeated.. the swedes defeated themselves. emil jönsson explained it best
http://nyheter24.se/sport/vinterkanalen/annaochemil/2013/02/02/da-tar-vi-nya-tagssian

i was also surprised by the whining of the russian head sprint coach. indeed the russians rarely whine but the chap explained his sprinters fiasco by the fact that the sochi course was designed by....... a norwegian :confused::rolleyes:

-Skiathlon.
cologna should be very happy with the series taking a confident second in the sprint and neatly outsmarting every one in the skiathlon. petter and the russians were outclassed. petter likely paid for his obsession with intermediate wc points and the russians paid for failing to ‘close the door’ on the last long hill despite having the numbers.

-other impressions
the host nation should be feeling rather mixed but hopeful. otoh, they failed to take any medals in the discipline they are particularly strong - the sprint - despite literally saturating the final. on the other, they controlled men’s skiathlon almost to perfection and would sweep the podium had it not been for cologna’s brilliance. i noticed legkov‘s new-found consistency. perhaps his coaching by reto burgermeister is starting to pay off… he was at the front all along and sprinted as often as northug for the points, but unlike northug did not implode at the end. in that regard, young sergey ustiugov may grow into a northug-size superstar…he swept all individual gold at the junior worlds last year, 2 golds at the u23 worlds this year and was the best ‘adult’ russian sprinter in sochi ! all after the very intense competition season. watch out for this kid. He can sprint and is currently the best young distance skier in the world.

-very surprised by justyna kowalczyk’s breakdown. besides her complaining about pain in the legs, i have heard nothing close to a satisfactory explanation. Perhaps she needs rest.
I kinda agree with the Russian whining. Though blaming a Norwegian designer is a bit rich:D. They don't have to accept his design. The sprint course for the men was IMHO too tough for the sprinters. A sprint were the sprinters are too tired to be competitive in the final compared to the alrounders seems to kinda defeat the purpose of the sprint.

Also I think the course was too narrow in some places. There should have been more passing opportunities. The finishing stretch was too narrow and should have been longer after the turn.

If the course remains unchanged I see the favorites as being Northug, Cologna and Hellner. Emil has improved his stamina, but I think he might come up short in a final. I don't see Theodor or the other pure sprinters as having much chance in a final.


On the Skiathlon, Northugs approach to the tactics was really odd. I have a feeling he was using the race to test himself more than focusing on winning. Or it could be that he misjudged his form. I see many possible explanations.

Ustiugov was very impressive. And it seems the Russians are very careful in nurturing him. I see him beating Northug in a sprint after a long distance, and it scares me.:eek:

On the sprint Relay, Emil an Theodor were impressive, though again this too looks like favoring the alrounders since they won the race, though perhaps not as much as the individual sprint.

On Justyna, I agree, it was very out of character for her. Could be illness or just being tired. If she felt something was off, I think she was right to quit the race. Exhausting herself could bring on sickness and ruin her pre championship training.
 
I'm really pleased that Kaisa and Mimi are going to the XC WC. On the 10k free they are likely to suffer from an early start number unless there is some change in conditions during the race.

They might lack a little bit of pacing experience, but I think they have enough to handle it.

On their competitiveness vs the specialists I'm a bit more skeptical. Though this could be my bias in favor of XC influencing my judgment.

I think on a good day both are capable of making top 10. If any of them make top 5 it would really surprise me. If any of them reach the podium I would be shocked. If any of them win it would shake me to the core.:eek:

In the relay I see them both hugely strengthening their teams. Especially Germany will benefit a lot, since the one Mimi would be replacing is likely a huge weak spot in the team. I don't see anyone beating the Norwegians bar any accident, but the hunt for the other two podium places looks to become extremely competitive.:)
 
Sep 25, 2009
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ToreBear said:
I kinda agree with the Russian whining. Though blaming a Norwegian designer is a bit rich:D. They don't have to accept his design. The sprint course for the men was IMHO too tough for the sprinters. A sprint were the sprinters are too tired to be competitive in the final compared to the alrounders seems to kinda defeat the purpose of the sprint.

Also I think the course was too narrow in some places. There should have been more passing opportunities. The finishing stretch was too narrow and should have been longer after the turn.

If the course remains unchanged I see the favorites as being Northug, Cologna and Hellner. Emil has improved his stamina, but I think he might come up short in a final. I don't see Theodor or the other pure sprinters as having much chance in a final.


On the Skiathlon, Northugs approach to the tactics was really odd. I have a feeling he was using the race to test himself more than focusing on winning. Or it could be that he misjudged his form. I see many possible explanations.

Ustiugov was very impressive. And it seems the Russians are very careful in nurturing him. I see him beating Northug in a sprint after a long distance, and it scares me.:eek:

On the sprint Relay, Emil an Theodor were impressive, though again this too looks like favoring the alrounders since they won the race, though perhaps not as much as the individual sprint.

On Justyna, I agree, it was very out of character for her. Could be illness or just being tired. If she felt something was off, I think she was right to quit the race. Exhausting herself could bring on sickness and ruin her pre championship training.
good to see you back commenting on the 'pure' xc matters b/c we are about to be swamped by the biathlon wc comments :) which i don't mind ;)

to the boded about the soch sprints...my post you quoted was placed BEFORE the team sprints.

since then, the results of team sprints largely confirmed your observation that the course is too stressful and too longish for pure sprinters. indeed, distance specialist dominated team sprints with only emil and (to lesser degree) kruykov holding out relatively well among the pure sprinters. that said, the fastest guys took around 4 minutes (+/- few seconds) to complete the course and that, though at the limit, still fits the guidelines for a sprinters course as postulated by the fis rules. norwegians seem to think differently as i read some place - can't recall now in either a swedish or a norwegian source - that they requested a modification to the sochi sprinters loop ?

there was, however yet another factor affecting the sprints in sochi even to a greater degree than the course design - the ELEVATION.

the elevation, when added to stresses of the peculiarly longish course (particularly the last very long and steep hill) knocked out most sprinters due to the increased aerobic demand and their relative lack of raw aerobic power.

at least this was the observation of some of the more knowledgeable commentators familiar with xc skier's sprinters physiology. in fact, studies by a norwegian scientist Øyvind Sandbakk fully agree with the observation. the best world class sprinters vo2 max average only at about 70. compare that with mid 80s for the elite distance xc specialists.

makes sense to me looking at the vyleg/jap total dominance.
 
Libertine Seguros said:
Teams are out for the Mixed Relay at the World Champs tomorrow.

The usual suspects are strong, Norway (Berger-Solemdal-Bø-Svendsen) and Russia (Zaitseva-Vilukhina-Shipulin-Malyshko) are the strongest teams on paper, but there are plenty who could challenge them (especially bearing in mind Bø's level is still unsure since he missed so much time at the start of the season though he has been targeting these Worlds). France (Brunet-Dorin-Bœuf-Fourcade) are probably the most obvious challengers, and as long as Brunet doesn't lose too much time on the skis they will no doubt be in the hunt as Martin Fourcade can make some serious gains on the final leg. Germany (Henkel-Gößner-Schempp-Birnbacher) can blow hot or cold; a lot will depend on Miri's performance in the range, as Schempp has a lot of promise but seems to either be fast or accurate and seldom both, while Birnbacher's shooting is top notch but his ski speed a little behind last year. Lacking the same star factor, the hosts (Vítková-Soukalová-Soukup-Moravec) nevertheless have an extremely strong team who could contest for at least the podium. Soukup's form will be key, as the others are going to need a good day in the range. Soukalová and Moravec are far from the worst skiers out there but they will be up against the likes of Gößner, Solemdal, Fourcade and Svendsen. I think Gabriela Soukalová still wakes up in a cold sweat looking over her shoulder and seeing Gößner. Slovenia (Mali-Gregorin-Bauer-Fak) also are lower on star factor (though Fak is a top name at present of course) but Mali and Gregorin are consistently in the top 30 in the world (Gregorin higher) and Klemen Bauer has been very good on his day many times before. And of course, they got the silver medal in this event last year, finishing first but Norway passing them on a time adjustment.
Thanks for the thorough preview! It's going to be nerve wrecking. On the Norwegian side it was interesting to put Berger on first. Could be they are hoping for her to gain some time and allow Solemdal to be less stressed out for the shooting.

Tarjei Bø will be interesting to follow. He has had several weeks of training to improve his ski speed so he should be faster.

Though Norway is the strongest on paper, in Biathlon the paper is worthless when millimeters decide between hit and miss.

As far as I remember the wind in Nove Mezto can be quite challenging, so anything can happen. I see Solemdal as the most vulnerable of the Norwegians in the shooting.

In other news it appears Tora Berger has said she will retire after next season. Sad but thats life I guess.:(
 
python said:
good to see you back commenting on the 'pure' xc matters b/c we are about to be swamped by the biathlon wc comments :) which i don't mind ;)

to the boded about the soch sprints...my post you quoted was placed BEFORE the team sprints.

since then, the results of team sprints largely confirmed your observation that the course is too stressful and too longish for pure sprinters. indeed, distance specialist dominated team sprints with only emil and (to lesser degree) kruykov holding out relatively well among the pure sprinters. that said, the fastest guys took around 4 minutes (+/- few seconds) to complete the course and that, though at the limit, still fits the guidelines for a sprinters course as postulated by the fis rules. norwegians seem to think differently as i read some place - can't recall now in either a swedish or a norwegian source - that they requested a modification to the sochi sprinters loop ?

there was, however yet another factor affecting the sprints in sochi even to a greater degree than the course design - the ELEVATION.

the elevation, when added to stresses of the peculiarly longish course (particularly the last very long and steep hill) knocked out most sprinters due to the increased aerobic demand and their relative lack of raw aerobic power.

at least this was the observation of some of the more knowledgeable commentators familiar with xc skier's sprinters physiology. in fact, studies by a norwegian scientist Øyvind Sandbakk fully agree with the observation. the best world class sprinters vo2 max average only at about 70. compare that with mid 80s for the elite distance xc specialists.

makes sense to me looking at the vyleg/jap total dominance.
I love Biathlon too, just not as much as XC, hence I thought I had to get my comments in.:D There is so much skiing to watch(jumping, combine, alpine, biathlon, xc) that I'm always late with commenting.:eek:


On the course I see we are in agreement. The heavy course and the altitude really does change the game. My thinking is that all the Russians were well acclimatized to the altitude and they still had trouble, So Sandbakk probably has a point. The heavy focus on aerobic effort during the sprint and the usual demand in the recovery between the heats seems too much at that altitude.

As for the Vo2max numbers, they seem too low from what I have heard on NRK. I think Brandsdal and especially Glørsen are very high. Going from memory I think Brandsdal is in the mid to high 80s and Glørsen in the low 90s. Having high aerobic ability is according to NRK important the further along you get in the heats, since it affects how much lactate you build up in the heats.

But of course, it could be the more normal for the sprinters to be in the mid 70s and Sandbakk was lowering the numbers for more contrast and/or Brandsdal and Glørsen are more outliers. The rule of thumb NRKs experts use is that the closer to the final, the better it is for the alrounders since they recover better.

This is a complex issue, and I'm no expert, so my thinking might be totally off.

Anyway Brandsdal wasn't in sochi IIRC. He is preparing for the WC. While Glørsen hasn't been selected due to him not being good enough in classic.

I'm unsure of how much acclimatized Glørsen was in Sochi, but in the semifinal, he looked like he had no more energy. In the quarter final it was really impressive of him to sprint past so many others. Could be that took even more out of him due to the altitude and he didn't have enough time to recover.
Glørsen hasn't seemed to have such a good form this season so that could explain something too.

As for the other Norwegian sprinters I think they also have pretty good Vo2 numbers, but that is only based on comments made on NRK that I vaguely seem to remember.

On the other nations, I am blank. But if vo2max is important for recovery, I would expect sprinters who are regularly in finals to have quite good numbers.


As for changing the course, I hadn't heard that. I hope they do because it seems odd that sprinters have no chance in an Olympic sprint. No doubt the course was within the rules, but rules evolve, and perhaps something should be changed in regards to high altitude.

Of course thinking of it in terms of chances for Norwegian medals, Northug seems to fit the sprint course perfectly, so if the course remains as is, I will survive. But it would be disappointing if all the great pure sprinters are suddenly becoming outsiders.
 
Solemdal's recent form has tapered off considerably so it would not have been a surprised to see Flatland get the nod as 2nd female runner. RUS team basically selects itself on form and consistency .... other women are steady on the range but calling "taxi !!" on the tracks. Had Soukalova's pre Xmas form held up, CZE would've been a stronger contender ... still might be if the higher fancies have melt downs.

FRA will require 10/10 or as close to from both Dorin and Brunet (and both NOR & RUS to falter) if they're to win. No Semerenkos in UKR ... not so much of a surprise as Valj esp has been shaky, no Pidrushina IS a suprise .... maybe they DON'T rate their chances. GER ..... will require major "on" days from both Gossner and Birnbacher and other legs ..... and others to falter to win and maybe even medal.

Kaisa for XC worlds ? A fair enough call for the relay as she'd be a realistic contender for one of the 2 skating spots behind Lahtenmakki. Both she and Gossner could perform well in the 10k but would need the likes of Bjoergen, Kalla, Johaug & Kowal to either all crash out or have a dodgy vindaloo the night before to pick up a medal.

An earlier poster raised the question of Domracheva at XC Worlds. Whilst I'd love to see her out there, frankly Belarus hasn't the XC depth and support to make it worth her while .... and more resourcing going towards Biathlon and justifiably so.
 
Sep 25, 2009
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1st big surprises...

before the start of mixed relays i'd give 5/1 that the norway girls will lead after 2 legs and that germany will be in the 3d at least. not to be seen. moreover, i'd give 10/1 chance that vilukhina can not drop solemdal in raw speed contest, nevertheless it did happen at the very finish of the 2nd leg...back to watching :D
 

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