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Nordic Skiing/Biathlon Thread

Page 12 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.

In the early stages I was afraid the skiis were totally uncompetitive. But it looks like when Tarjei had his stage the techs had sorted out the worst of the problems. Great to see the Czecs getting a bronze in front of that great home crowd!

To me it looked like the Russians and the French had great skiis. The Germans were totally out of it. It was only during Mimis stage it was understandable how Henkel had lost so much time. Their skiis were horrible. Perhaps Mimi not getting a penalty lap might have given them a chance at a medal, but I have my doubts. Their skiis were so uncompetitive it was painfull to look at.:eek:

I did'nt see any of the Germans in the last two stages, so they might have improved. But this was on par with the Swedish classics skiis in Holmenkollen.
ToreBear said:

In the early stages I was afraid the skiis were totally uncompetitive. But it looks like when Tarjei had his stage the techs had sorted out the worst of the problems. Great to see the Czecs getting a bronze in front of that great home crowd!

To me it looked like the Russians and the French had great skiis. The Germans were totally out of it. It was only during Mimis stage it was understandable how Henkel had lost so much time. Their skiis were horrible. Perhaps Mimi not getting a penalty lap might have given them a chance at a medal, but I have my doubts. Their skiis were so uncompetitive it was painfull to look at.:eek:

I did'nt see any of the Germans in the last two stages, so they might have improved. But this was on par with the Swedish classics skiis in Holmenkollen.
Certainly the skis cannot possibly have helped.

Course times per leg:
Henkel 4th (+14 from Berger)
Miri 10th (+35 from Domracheva)
Schempp no time shown (realbiathlon only shows top 12 per leg)
Birnbacher 11th (+31 from Fourcade)

However, Henkel's Laufleistung wasn't all that poor compared to later, and it's time for the inquisition at the DSV. Then again, Mäkäräinen also lost 32" to Domracheva. But Marie Dorin lost 5" and Kaisa probably doesn't give her all here unless they're up near the front since the medal hopes are pretty slim. Hard to judge the skis/conditions etc from Birnbacher too, since it was little more than a training run for him. Solemdal looked like she didn't have her best skiing day either. We'll see after the weekend, but I'm concerned there might be more to it than just bad skis.

Miri herself isn't quite so downbeat about it. She said she had problems reloading due to cold fingers, and "let's see if it's a bit better in the sprint" about her ski form. So I'd say mostly some terrible skis but partly something up with her herself. I'm sure the German media will crucify her for this, mind, if the crap they gave Arnd Peiffer for his errors in last year's Mixed Relay is anything to go by.
Pretty tense sprint in Nové Město today.

Most people expected a Fourcade/Svendsen showdown, and that's what they got, but the means of getting there was quite interesting. The first major contender to go was Fredrik Lindström, but the Swede missed a shot in each position, and his time of 24'03 was considered to be probably a minute off where it would need to be to contest the win. However, he'd put in an absolutely blinding last lap, and just how blinding it was we didn't know until Andi Birnbacher, who led after prone but missed 2 at standing, emerged losing 20" to him on the final lap. This was further underlined when Anton Shipulin, with a better shooting record, could only best him by 5". Tarjei Bø briefly led after shooting 1, but like Birnbacher he missed 2 in stand and dropped down the order. The big battle came a few minutes later, with Martin Fourcade leading into the range with Svendsen 2 minutes behind, and no relevant competition between. Ustyugov, 3rd in the World Cup, went 1 minute later to pick up the pieces if they erred. In prone, they did not. Svendsen held a slim lead of 3 seconds. In stand, they did, each missing one target. Svendsen picked up another 3 seconds on the course and 4 more by shooting more quickly than his Catalan nemesis, and it was a final lap showdown with Fourcade needing 10". He managed to get 2 but no more. Ustyugov flubbed his lines with a miss himself, and shortly after him Alexis Bœuf emerged to show him how it's done, hitting 10/10, but unlike Ustyugov he doesn't have the pace to capitalise on it, and only finished 12" ahead of the Russian. There was some excitement as Lukas Hofer shot clear in prone to set a joint quickest time, but much more when Ole Einar Bjørndalen shot clear to set the fastest time of everyone in prone.

Then we had an exciting passage with contenders coming into stand. Malyshko went clear, 10/10 and emerged 5,8 seconds behind Svendsen! Two and a half minutes later, Jakov Fak emulated the man from Sosnovy Bor, setting an identical pace. Passing Svendsen may have been unlikely but could either man hold off Fourcade? They are two strong skiers who have beaten the Frenchman at times this season... and what of Bjørndalen? He shot targets 1, 2 and 3 in order. Then he shot target 5 for reasons beknownst to nobody, and missed when he went back to target 4! He emerged from the penalty loop level with Martin Fourcade however, so he was in the medal hunt as well! In the end though, it was not to be as Jakov Fak proved to be the strongest of the three contenders, and even then he was unable to stave off the challenge from Fourcade. Malyshko fared the worst of the three, hitting the wall on the final lap and losing out on both a medal to Fak and on 4th place to Bjørndalen.

Then it came down to which later starters could do something. Erik Lesser was looking good for a top 10 all the way until he missed shot number 10, and fell away to an eventual 12th; Simon Eder shot 10/10 and lay 7th with quite a time gap down to 10th after two shots but tumbled into that position with a slow lap 3. Simon Fourcade shot cleanly and set a fast time on lap 1, but his second and third laps were way back off the pace and so despite the 100% shooting record he couldn't make the top 30; Mesotitsch on the other hand is hardly known for ski speed, but could have been up there had he not missed his last 2 shots in standing. The last starters of any consequence were Arnd Peiffer, Henrik L'Abée-Lund and Zdeněk Vitek, however the latter was the only one to go clear in prone. L'Abée-Lund added another miss in stand, while Vitek joined him on the loop. The resulting differences of 20 places between Peiffer and L'Abée-Lund display how compact the field was - Peiffer didn't exactly show his form from Khanty-Mansiysk when he won this event with the same shooting record, over a minute down on Svendsen, but 16th is a reasonable score after the miserable year he's had so far. Some 42 competitors within 2 minutes, it's going to be a hectic pursuit. Some interesting names missing out though - Andrejs Rastorgujevs is of note, having set the fastest ski time and isolated pursuit time in Pokljuka en route to climbing into the top 10 from about 50th. Julian Eberhard as well, after 5 misses. Romania's Cornel Puchianu, who briefly held the fastest course time after 1 lap, before overcooking himself and flubbing his lines with the rifle. Plywaczyk and Szczurek, Poland's starters in the mixed relay, both failed to make the pursuit leaving Poland without a male representative tomorrow, something I'd think is highly unlikely to continue with the women.

With the exception of Desthieux, who was only really a 'bonus' entry for France since they had the defending champion, France put everyone in the top 35 (M Fourcade 2nd, Bœuf 6th, Beatrix 20th, S Fourcade 34th), while Germany clustered everybody in the region for those who aren't quite the elite talents but are still top guys who can compete for the podium occasionally but not regularly (Lesser 12th, Peiffer 16th, Birnbacher 23rd, Schempp 28th), which would seem more or less to be in line with what our expectations should be of this German team, which means that the wax débacle may have been solved. We'll see from the women whether the skis really did account for the whole problem on Thursday or whether they've made a mess of their preparation. All eyes will be on Miriam Gößner, which is bad in a way as she's shown a propensity to be very nervous when this is the case, and if it's not working for her on the skis, it could be disastrous. Ukraine have Andriy Deryzemlya in 17th, but then all their other athletes clustered together (39th, 41st and 42nd) but team of the day would be, as usual this season, Russia, who placed all 4 athletes in the top 20 (Malyshko 5th, Shipulin 7th, Ustyugov 9th, Garanichev 19th).

Athlete of the day, however, is Krasimir Anev of Bulgaria, who with clean shooting and a good start number (his number was 15, and he set a time of 8'26 coming out of lap 1. At 8'30 on Anev's clock, Emil Hegle Svendsen set off, giving the Bulgarian a target to follow), managed to ski his way up to 2nd place when he finished (he fell behind Lindström's time), a time that we felt would drop away but it was only with Eder, who set off half an hour later, that he was ousted from the top 10.
The women's race was a bit less predictable. It started out a bit stronger than the men's event, with a number of key participants in the early running. Teja Gregorin led off, Krystyna Pałka went at 4, immediately followed by Anastasiya Kuzmina, with Darya Domracheva, Olga Zaitseva and Miriam Gößner in close pursuit. Zaitseva set off like a bat out of hell, putting pressure on those around her, and swiftly defeated the first time to beat after 1 shoot, which was Pałka's. This looked like not being a day for the turbos either, with Gößner missing 2 and Domracheva 3 in prone, while Kuzmina only missed 1 but had a technical problem with her rifle that cost her time. At shooting 2, everybody in the early group decided to add a bit more penalty to their time, with Pałka, Kuzmina and Zaitseva adding 1, and Domracheva adding 2. The big shock? The name missing from that group. Yes, Miri shot clear in standing :D this enabled her to salvage her time and get within 10 seconds of Zaitseva's time, the early time to beat.

The next group contained a couple of clean shooters who were able to get right up in the mix, most notably Vita Semerenko and Olga Vilukhina, with the former passing Zaitseva to take the lead. It's strange how a couple of years ago Valj was seemingly the more talented and successful of the twins, but Vita's fortunes turned with that Individual medal at Khanty-Mansiysk; since then Valj has had illness and injury troubles and though she has had a couple of podiums (such as at Oberhof), Vita has been the one that comes through in the big pressure events like these. Andrea Henkel, on the other hand, in the same group, tumbled down the order with the usually reliable Thuringian missing 3. It then fell to a group of three consecutive starters to fight things out, with Olena Pidhrushna setting off between Mäkäräinen and World Cup leader Tora Berger. While the Finn copied Miriam Gössner exactly (same shooting patterns, almost identical times), Berger hit for home. She was clearly leading when she came into standing, but one miss - even despite her incredibly fast shooting times - could have been fatal... she had 11 seconds to make up, for Pidhrushna, rested (like the Semerenko twins) from the Mixed Relay in a tactical Ukrainian decision that paid off big style, had shot all 10. Tora put everything into it - she had the fastest ski time of the day apparently - but fell just short, and Pidhrushna has her first World Cup victory on the biggest stage of all. Her compatriot Semerenko took the bronze, but 22 seconds down.

A couple of late runs at the medals from Franziska Hildebrand and Ann Kristin Flatland were found wanting, but both posted good times, while clean shooting helped Vítková continue the host nation's good form with 10th place (as opposed to the more celebrated Soukalová who was 14th after missing one in standing).

The French women take the German men's consistency-without-electrifying prize (Boilley 16th, Dorin 18th, Bescond 20th, Brunet 26th), while the pursuit will be without a few notable names; Andreja Mali is better than 64th place with only 2 misses, Olympic medallist Elena Khrust'aleva was down in the 70s, and Nadine Horchler, who finished in the top 5 of every race at Antholz, had a shocker of a day, finishing down in 84th.
Miri didn't ski THAT fast today, and I found that the Germans overall didn't really perform. Were there problems with their skis again perhaps? I certainly want to see Miri better than this at the XC championships.

Will be two thrilling pursuits tomorrow too.
jsem94 said:
Miri didn't ski THAT fast today, and I found that the Germans overall didn't really perform. Were there problems with their skis again perhaps? I certainly want to see Miri better than this at the XC championships.

Will be two thrilling pursuits tomorrow too.

I think the German skies are much better now, but perhaps not good enough yet. But there is also the question of the individual skiing style fitting to the course and snow conditions.

Then you have the question of confidence in your skis which might effect how you plan the race. And you also have the issue of the individual adaptability to adapt to different conditions.

So many variables.:)

One interesting piece of information nrk served us yesterday was that the Russian womens waxers had begun to share more resources etc with the Russian mens waxers. Meaning they didn't cooperate well before.:eek:

Anyway the Russian skies were insane on thursday when it was easier to see the differences between the countries. I remember on the third stage seeing a Russian struggling to not go past Bøff and Bø on the downhill.:eek:

My impression on that day, was that the Russians had super skis and the French almost as good.

Here is a link in norwegian about the tough courses:

Here is one were they talk about difficult snow conditions, and polluted snow making ski prep difficult:
Well, Svendsen had enough (just) to win the sprint there, but otherwise that could have been the tactical balls-up of the year. Having 10" over Fourcade with a lap to go, then easing up and letting him and Shipulin come back to the group, then sitting at the back of it and getting his skis run over when Fourcade attacked... not smart racing from Emil there. I'm getting pretty sick of seeing those two on the top two steps now. Here's hoping the individual can spring some surprises.
Libertine Seguros said:
Well, Svendsen had enough (just) to win the sprint there, but otherwise that could have been the tactical balls-up of the year. Having 10" over Fourcade with a lap to go, then easing up and letting him and Shipulin come back to the group, then sitting at the back of it and getting his skis run over when Fourcade attacked... not smart racing from Emil there. I'm getting pretty sick of seeing those two on the top two steps now. Here's hoping the individual can spring some surprises.

He said in the interview that he thought the others were far behind, so he was surprised when they came up. Probably the coaches making a mistake in communicating to him.

He was lucky to get the win. Getting locked behind almost cost him. He managed the sprint exceptionally well using Fourcade as a wind breaker.

On the sprint, it appears Fourcade was too focused on were Emil was and lost the timing in his technique.

As for who was first. I'm not 100% sure from the video I've seen. All the camera angels seem a little bit off. But it certainly looked like Emil had a higher final speed, and that might be an indication that he was first, even though they looked to be over the line at exactly the same time.

As for who wins, well it's only been two individual races so far which are linked to each other. The next two races should open up for others. I'm hoping for Bjørndalen.:D

Edit: NRK chased up a photo with measurement lines. They say it shows the difference was 2.4 cm.:eek:
Absolutely thrilling races today. So horrible that Flatland had to fall - seemed like Zaitseva was stopped behind a bit too because of that, neither Pidrushna nor Palka should have had a medal there really.

And Svendsen, that was ballsy. He was blocked and couldn't follow Martin in the climb which could have led to a loss, but Martin messed up that sprint. That was sick.
To be fair, while I'd been waiting for Miri to break out for a couple of years, patiently waiting through some bad times, it was by no means certain that she would break out like she has done. Pokljuka was the start of something big, and then her peak performance period was for her home World Cup events, which makes some kind of sense, no? The German women were expected to have a down-season in Neuner's absence and the three wins from Gößner and a couple of other podiums are more than many expected from the season. Expectations from her have gone from the unfairly low to the unfairly high when you consider she's still the youngest competitor in the top 30 in the World Cup, and Tora Berger never won a WC event until she was 27. She now has 23. Even if on form she will pick it up 9 times out of 10, it's not reasonable to expect her to be the top skier at every single race, she's already broken Neuner's record for most consecutive fastest course times. The problem Germany have is more on the men's side; the women were expected to have a bad year in the wake of Neuner's retirement and the men were meant to pick up the slack. No man has broken out in anything even remotely like the same style as Gößner, and worse, the dependable names haven't been so, well, dependable; Peiffer was good at Östersund but has traditionally started the season slowly and got better and been a top contender by the end of the season, and this year that just hasn't happened at all. Birnbacher is not on top form and has been ill. When fully fit he's been a contender, but the season's going in the wrong direction for the Germans. I wonder if the "will she/won't she" tug of love over the Nordic Worlds has had an effect on Miri's preparation for these championships too.

I expect to see Dahlmeier, Preuß, Raschke and Rees given a couple of gos to see what they can do in the last World Cup races of the season. What harm can it do?

Although it was really sad for Flatland and Zaitseva at the end there, I'm ecstatic that Krystyna Pałka finally got a big success. She's been getting solid rankings 6th-20th for a couple of years now without breaking through so it's great to see her manage it on the biggest stage of all. Well, second biggest, but the biggest is next year.
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Swedish commentator said he spoke to the german coaches about Peiffer and they said he trained very hard in the off-season and they were expecting big things from Arnd, but they think he may have over-trained. Yeah, Birnbacher has been unlucky to pick up a couple of illnesses post xmas. He started the season quite well.
Mens race: Svendsen make a tactical call that almost exploded in his race but Fourcade made a fatal mistake looking left a few metres short of the line and in effect brought about his own stumble. A well deserved bronze for Shipulin who is currently putting himself in the postition of being the man most likely to pounce should either of the Big Two falter or "take each other out" physically or tactically. Sound performances from Malyshko (2 good comeback races after blowing the mixed relay); Fak and Landertinger.

Men's relay prospects: Think NOR have to include O-E as his performances here have merited such. They look strong but not overwhelming and L'Abee Lund will have to step up. RUS looking very very strong but Ustygov's proclivity to implode under pressure on the standing shoot is a worry. FRA looks formidable for 2 legs with MF, Bouef & Beatrix but SF's form a concern. GER will require a major step up AND penalty laps from at least 2 of the above to medal. SWE may be competitive for 3 runners but they just haven't a 4th man of requisite standard. ITA looks the only other plausible medal hope but again would require major balls ups from those ahead. Others like CZE/USA/UKR/SLO/SWI may have a couple of runners capable of being there with the top teams but not the full quota.

Women's: Berger again shows why she'll be the overall champ this year. Feel very much for Zaitseva who WAS robbed of a medal (quite possibly silver) by a kamikaze move by Flatland. I like Flatland (and consider her to still be the 2nd best NOR woman) but it was a misjudged move which cost her what would've been a well deserved medal and ruined the chances of Zaitseva. Palka was in the fortunate position of being able to cash in but she put in a high class performance in her own right .... and her performances this year have merited a due reward. Pidrushina looks to be running out of juice but another strong performace.

Gossner ? Maybe question of form to a degree (with 6 misses she was still within 1.55) but maybe more to do with "the head". Makkarainen missed one on each shoot and still top 10 within 1.15. Story of her season = shoot straight or even minimal error and she's fast enough to win or podium at min but too many loose shots. Domracheva shot the same and moved 20+ places forward from her start but same story for this season as Kaisa.

Woman's relay: Hopefully the crash hasnt knocked Flatland around mentally as her return to the top now means NOR has 3 runners who can legitimately run at the front (and Horn's steady consistent progress this season means they no longer have to worry about massive fallaways on yr weakest leg. Hope RUS medals at minimum as it would be an outrage to see Zaitseva leave these championships without at least one medal. Vilukhina looks a tick off the v fastest in ski form but as long as she, Glazyrina and Shumilova minimise their misses, they should podium at least. FRA - may podium but will need to shoot as close to 100% and rely on penalty laps to win and medals are no cert.

GER - Henkel and Hildebrandt should be solid but Horchler has been "off". To medal, they will rely on mistakes .... and a major rewire of Miri. Bring in at least one youngster = a definite gamble but maybe might spark something in what has been a rather flat outfit. POL - definite medal chance on ski speed if 1-2 higher fancies falter. UKR - Pidrushina and Vita look "on" but Valj "well off" Dzhyma has been a pleasant surprise this season. BLR - rough outside chance if first 3 leave Domracheva in with a medal chance going into the last leg. Skardino has been good this year, Kalinchik solid but Duberazava hasn't progressed as one might've expected after some good results last season
You think Fourcade & Svendsen are getting predictable? Tora Berger is just unstoppable this season, and the only people who've really threatened her are the ones who you can bank will shoot worse than she does in an Individual - Miri, Dasha and Kaisa. And so it was today, with all 3 within 10 seconds at the top of the ski times list, but Miri missed 6 times, Mäkäräinen did somewhat better with 3 misses, while Dasha had outdone Kaisa by shooting 1, recovering to 14/20 after a chronic 1/5 at the first prone. The only other person who could have beaten Berger today (she was the 5th fastest skier and shot 20/20 because, well, that's what she does: be the best) was Kuzmina; she skied 18" faster than Berger (still 30" off Mäkäräinen, mind) but 2 misses dropped her out of the medals. Germany's tournament is finally off the mark, and who else would it be but Andrea Henkel, the hands they always turn to in times of need? Andrea's been the steady, experienced hand in an inexperienced women's team this year, the perfect counter to the super-exciting but inconsistent Gößner at the head of the team, giving them consistent good results without electrifying the field. She showed great form to come from 33rd to 6th in the Pursuit after a disappointing sprint, having the best isolated pursuit time. Now, however, she isn't starting with a heavy disadvantage and medalled accordingly. Perfect shooting alone, however, isn't enough to beat Berger, for she has consistently been 4th or 5th best on the skis all season, occasionally higher, and Henkel could only manage a time 52" behind the Norwegian. The third podium spot was filled by Valj Semerenko, because a) the Ukrainians have timed their peak perfectly - Vita was 5th as well, but 40 seconds slower than her twin - and b) Vita has a couple of WM medals already, Valj didn't have any until today. She was one of the first people of all to go, as well, so it was a long and nerve-wracking wait for her medal to be confirmed, and she sat on the top step for a long time too (Berger and Henkel set off #s 62 and 71). Zaitseva was close but no cigar yet again, with 2 misses in the first prone, then salvaging a 6th place by going clear at the other 3.

The French women are still trying hard to get something out of these championships; Dorin once again close, she'd have had the silver if she shot clear, but 2 misses drop her down, while Brunet DID get 20/20 but was a painful 4 minutes down on Berger's time. China's Yan Zhang is worth keeping an eye on though - as well as a top pursuit in Oberhof, the 20-year-old Chinese shot 19/20 and finished a more than respectable 16th today, within 40 seconds of Dzhyma, Vítková and even Vilukhina (!) with the same shooting record. After a lot of progress a few years ago it seemed the Chinese had fallen back into the lower rankings, but they clearly do still have some prospects to move forward. She took some impressive scalps even without the shooting record today, finishing well ahead of Nadine Horchler with the same shooting record, and more than her miss quotient ahead of Skardino. Obviously the poor shooting displays from Miri and Dasha put them down the field (35th and 33rd respectively). Others who'll be disappointed with their day include Franzi Hildebrand (touted as a potential medal winner due to strong Individual performances in the past, she shot perfectly in prone but 5 misses in stand sent her tumbling down the order), Synnøve Solemdal (who shot 14/20 like Domracheva and Gößner but is nearly 2 and a half minutes behind them, and while they are another level in skiing performance on form, Solemdal has regularly been, along with Berger, one of the strongest performers beside them), Ann Kristin Flatland (who with 3 misses is over 6 minutes back, clearly the accident on Sunday may have affected her either mentally, physically or both) and Nastassia Dubarezava, who missed 4 in the first two shooting rounds and then failed to finish, but I don't know why. She showed a lot of promise last year, but it seems this year her shooting performance has completely collapsed, especially since the cross-firing incident at Pokljuka and failing to qualify for the pursuit. Certainly last year the Skardino-Kalin'chik-Dubarezava-Domracheva tandem for Belarus could compete for the podium in any race, by getting to leg 4 within a couple of minutes and letting Darya turn on the turbos admittedly, but this year that has seemed a long way away.

So what does this mean for the relays?

Well, Ukraine must feel fairly confident, with Pidhrushna and both Semerenkos very strong at present. Dzhyma hasn't been weak, but she'll be the weakest part of the team. Russia must feel fairly comfortable as well, with Zaitseva on top form and Vilukhina reliable. Glazyrina was good today, but they are lacking in ski speed, even with Zaitseva putting in easily her best ski times of the season here in Nové Město. France have a very stable and reliable team, but they will have to rely on others making mistakes; Bescond can be quick but is the least reliable of the quartet with the rifle, and Dorin is far quicker than she used to be but still a level below the hares if the pressure is on. Boilley has been quick in relays (see Ruhpolding, where she was 2nd quickest overall, following Gößner all the way around admittedly) but not often enough to be confident, and Brunet's ski speed has been poor all year. Germany may feel a bit more confident in Miri's skiing than they were after the Mixed Relay, but the 2km-Strecke is very light and she hasn't been good on it, whereas on the longer, harder courses she's made much better time. Henkel is as Henkel does, Franzi will hopefully bounce back from today's disappointment, and her ski speed has been vastly improved recently, but Horchler's lack of speed and form-straight after a really impressive Antholz-is a major worry for them, especially as the only backup they've brought to the Championships is Laura Dahlmeier, who may be one of the brightest prospects in the sport, but who has also never started a race at the World Cup level. Norway are surprisingly low down the prospects list too; obviously a clearly on-form and motivated Tora Berger is a weapon like pretty much no other, but if Flatland is suffering, then they only have an out-of-form Solemdal, a talented but not yet complete Fanny Horn and the amazingly promising but inexperienced Hilde Fenne (who may be tired after a long season. Certainly her ski speed was pretty good today, but 8 misses can't be spun any positive way really). The easier 2km course may play into their hands with Flatland however, as opposed to the longer, tougher course used today. Beyond these "big" nations, there are obviously other options. Poland have been pretty strong all season, and fell at the last hurdle going for the podium in Antholz. Gwizdoń is as fast as she's ever been, Nowakowska will be motivated to atone for that botch at Antholz, Cyl and Hojnisz will compete for the fourth slot and Krystyna Pałka has been Bärenstark at these championships. And, of course, the hosts. Soukalová and Vítková can be competitive at most races, especially with comparatively easy skiing routes to minimise the losses there (more with Vítková than Soukalová admittedly) while any of the options they have for the other slots will be motivated to perform in front of the home audience.

Finally, tomorrow's men's Individual. Some strong contenders going early, with Erik Lesser leading off (remember, for all his meltdowns since, he was on the podium the last time an Individual was held on the World Cup), reigning champ Jakov Fak going at 6, Ustyugov at 8, Hofer 10, Landertinger - on the podium in the Östersund Individual - 11, Bjørndalen 14, Leguellec 15 and Alexis Bœuf 17. Group 2 (21-40) is the strongest by far, however, with a number of key figures. Anton Shipulin goes at 25 and will be followed by Andi Birnbacher, who in turn will be followed by Fredrik Lindström (who will hope to replicate that final lap speed from Saturday's sprint). Martin Fourcade, who won in Östersund of course (starting his reign in the yellow bib that may go - like Berger - from start to finish of the World Cup season) will go at 29, before a period of relative calm until his mortal rival Svendsen sets off at 40. Group 3 is comparatively benign, with Mořavec at 42 and Bø at 57 the main attractions. There are plenty to keep an eye on in the later numbers, though: Bergman goes at 72, followed by Peiffer, Florian Graf is at 81, and Andrei Makoveev, who was on the podium at all Individuals in 2011-12 except the World Championships - and that because he was inexplicably left off the team for an injured Ustyugov - goes at 89 and while he's not had the best of seasons, he can shoot well, he's been on the podium before this season and, well, it would be a lot less surprising than Maxim Maksimov's 2011 medal. Friedrich Pinter goes at 95, the 34-year-old having been rejuvenated this season, while the elder Fourcade, whose ski form has been variable at these tournaments, goes at 107 followed by local hero Michal Šlesingr. The last real, genuine threat to go is as late as 119 - Daniel Mesotitsch. The Austrian has spent much of the season on the IBU Cup, but he podiumed the sprint in Antholz when called up, he's capable of going 20/20, and he has previous in the Individual as well.
Great racing in womens' relay today. Tora the machine as always and Ukrainian women fulfilled the potential. The highlight of the evening for me was the performance of Laura Dahlmeier - steadily approaching the front, cold-blooded shooting and finally dropped Valj Semerenko in the battle for first place in her leg. Very promising. Pity the Germans didn't get a medal.
Great final leg by Berger (how she would wish she could bottle her form from these Championships) to pull away to win gold. UKR were steady throughout and immense credit to all four ITA runners for hanging in under WChamp pressure to medal.

Having said that, I feel a critical factor was the inexplicable ineptitude of RUS's Shumilova on the 3rd leg; particularly on the circuit between prone & standing shoots. Instead of taking the front and pushing a harder place; she just sat in behind the tame pace of the lesser members of the lead trio thus allowing the likes of Dahlmeier and Solemdal to close up on that one circuit .... and two major competitors back into the medal race in a far easier fashion than should be expected at this level.
Berger won't need to bottle this form as long as her main competitors are competitors as inconsistent as Mäkäräinen, Domracheva and Gössner. Those are the only ones who can outpace her, and her shooting is so much better than theirs that it's not funny.

Dahlmeier will be a star, little doubt about it. Fenne too, even despite the off day today. Product of the same Mittenwald/Kaltenbrunn background as Glagow, Neuner and Gössner (Dahlmeier's from Partenkirchen, Glagow and Gössner from Garmisch and Neuner from Wallgau, a village a few kilometres outside the Garmisch-Partenkirchen urban area but still inside its municipality). Maybe more Glagow about her than Neuner/Gössner, but very impressed with how she dealt with the pressure on her first race as a senior. And even hanging with Valj Semerenko would have been promising enough, let alone taking the bull by the horns like that. She doesn't shoot super-quick, certainly today's shooting performance was quicker than anticipated (though it was around the pace of the top guns on leg 4, she was quicker than all of her opponents on the range in leg 3). Makes me wonder for when Franziska Preuß makes it to the World Cup, since she shoots like Tora Berger in stand.

Shumilova really did have an off-day. She lost 40" to Marie-Laure Brunet - in her current form - on the skis. That's really surprising. But then, while I've been tearing my hair out about the German underperformance at these Championships, the Russians have had similar issues, if not worse given that they now only have a bronze to their name as against Germany's silver. This was one of those odd relays that's won by half the team to salvage the other half. It wasn't as much of a team effort as the Germans a year ago, but it certainly wasn't as much of an individual effort as the Germans two years ago, where while Bachmann was ecstatic and Miri was bawling her eyes out, Henkel looked almost embarrassed at how she was going to pick up a relay gold where all four medals were probably owed to Neuner.
Man, CJ Bergman's form is just non-existent. Shooting is rubbish and skiing rubbish. Really sad. But he was far from alone to crack in the shooting discipline. Lesser and Garanichev had horrible standing shootings. However, there was no way Norway was going to lose that. The old man Ole Einar still has some form, Bø was epic in shooting and skiing and Emil was back to his regular self after missing the individual race due to a minor illness.

Something should be said about the shooting too, and that was Arwidson's standing shooting - just as quick as Bø. Also, Krcmar really surprised me positively in the shooting. The Czechs could have had a real shot at a medal, hadn't there been a few misses.

Also, Poltoranin - if he doesn't end up racking up some medals in Val di Fiemme I would be very surprised. It was sad that Jönsson cracked his pole and couldn't get to the final, he might have been the only one to give Poltoranin a real fight for the win. Cologna had nothing there, it was a Björn Lind in Otepää-style victory.
I was really sad for Lesser though. I mean, Norway dropped 5 shots all race. So did Germany, but they were all in the same shooting so they had two loops to do. Take two penalty loops off the time and you have the Germans less than 40" back on the same shooting record, which, given the comparative lack of form as opposed to the dominant Norwegians, is pretty good. Fourcade storming on the last lap though, no way he was being denied adding to his silver collection.

This tournament has, if I'm honest, produced some really good races but for the most part really boring, predictable results. Always Svendsen and Fourcade, always Tora. The only 'surprise' results you could say were Pałka's pursuit silver, Burke's individual and maybe Pidhrushna's gold. I know that this is more or less where we stand when all of Germany (except Henkel) and all of Russia (except Zaitseva) underperform (seriously, I thought the Germans would be at panic stations, it must be worse in the Russian camp now, with so many prospects and only one bronze to show for it) but it's pretty frustrating because they're SO far ahead of the competition. Last year's races were much more open (at the Worlds at least - I'm aware that there was a really surprisingly low number of podium athletes in the 2011-12 season).

Oh well, with the peaking heading back down again we should at least get some interesting results in the remaining World Cups. Seems very odd to look back on this season and remember that at Östersund Miriam Gößner was still just a prospect for the future, Arnd Peiffer looked like outperforming his previous 2 seasons, Svendsen looked off the pace, Gabriela Soukalová was an unheralded nobody, everybody thought Domracheva was going to waltz away with the crystal globe and Jean-Philippe Leguellec won the sprint.
Sep 25, 2009
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davos classic sprints...one of my favourite disciplines held in one of my favourite places on earth.

one does not get to see very often the world's best skiers herring bone-ing and snow plow-ing like some weekend tourists...yet, that's what they were doing for a better part of the insane course. it was funny (and sad) to watch how they entangled, stepped on and put out of competition each other as if someone threw a fishing net on their heads.

yet, poltoranin handled it all with his usual grace and power. it's a pleasure to watch his classic technique...tbh, i though cologna will win in front of his home crowd. he almost did. emil disappointed me again. surprised kryukof was not there and how poorly his compatriots performed.
jsem94 said:
Also, Poltoranin - if he doesn't end up racking up some medals in Val di Fiemme I would be very surprised. It was sad that Jönsson cracked his pole and couldn't get to the final, he might have been the only one to give Poltoranin a real fight for the win. Cologna had nothing there, it was a Björn Lind in Otepää-style victory.

i hope so. a joy to watch him
And we learn that Tora Berger is human and can err. We also learn, sadly, that the final standing round still has a hex on Miri Gößner. That Darya Domracheva, when she shoots accurately, is still at least top 3 in the world and belongs to the best skiers in the world bar none. And that Krystyna Pałka, while the best Pole pretty much across the board for the last two years, is not the only one capable of winning medals, with Hojnisz making the podium. I would never have thought that in this discipline. In the Individual, with clean shooting, maybe. But in the Mass Start? No. Those that started the championships well (with the obvious exception of Berger) starting to fade (Pidhrushna 11th, the Semerenkos falling from contention and Pałka falling behind Hojnisz with the same shooting, Flatland down the order) while those that started disappointingly have worked their way into form as the event has gone on (Domracheva, Gößner, Solemdal).

Now for another predictable Svendsen-Fourcade 1-2, the only question is which order they'll be in, I guess.
At last a nice change from the norm in the men's Mass Start to finish the championships; still Norway winning but, after perfect shooting, this time it's Tarjei Bø that takes it. Svendsen didn't look at 100%, and was losing time to Fourcade on the skis all the way around, but he shot 19 to the Frenchman's 18 and raced his way to the front. At the start of the final shoot there were still 13 in contention due to some conservative skiing and pauses in action, but then some real prospects like Birnbacher and Fourcade fell by failing to go clear (they eventually sprinted out 10th place); we were left with Bø, Svendsen, Ferry and Lesser with Shipulin and Moravec chasing them; Shipulin being clearly a top skier compared to much of that group was able to get into it quickly, while Lesser and Moravec also made light work of passing Ferry. Bø knew that Svendsen would outsprint him, so because he's not an idiot XC skier trying to go to the last 200m with Northug, realised that he would need to attack him early, on the first big climb, so he did. He took a gap of some 7 seconds very quickly, while Shipulin and Svendsen tried to haul him in. Erik Lesser, who is still in his first WC year and who does struggle on final laps, fought valiantly to keep medal hopes alive, but faded away rather predictably, eventually being passed by Moravec as well, as he looked to finish the tournament as it started - with a Czech bronze.

It looked like Bø was being brought back, but on the final uphill he went again and with full force, and this time it was decisive; Svendsen couldn't answer it and Shipulin was able to pass him to come in for the Silver as well - thus matching Germany and Russia's performances (one silver one bronze) and avoiding Russia's least successful World Championships ever.