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Nordic Skiing/Biathlon Thread

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Seems the war between Sweden and Norway has finally kicked off. It seems the media are making the most of it, and Petter is egging them on.

He is focused on the sprint relay, and if he can get Emil to doubt himself just a little bit for just a split second during the race, he can take advantage of that.

For that race I would rank Sweden as favorites. They have Emil as the finnisher and could potentially use Hellner as a huge engine on first. That could give them a lot of attacking options throghout the race.
 
Bavarianrider said:
I hope tmorrow someone who's best technique is classic, has actually the balls to blow up the race and tries to rip the field apart. I mean seriously, what do they have to lose?

Like who?
Arguably the best classics guys are the same guys that will be there in the skating (perhaps except of Poltaranin). Nordthug, Legkov, Cologna, noone of them are any weaker in classic style than the other
 
Poltoranin, Bauer or Cologna if anyone. Or perhaps even Olsson - he's in STELLAR form. But I must say that it's rather unlikely that anyone will make a considerable move in the classic part.

Edit: Just read Olsson will skip the skiathlon. Well....
 
zapata said:
I don't really understand what you have against the sprints. Yes, it's not "proper" skiing in the sense that we're used to (Which is to say a 50 km interval start), but hardly any race today is. To win a sprint today, you have to be fast, but also smart, and have a great deal of endurance. I find it more watchable, and certainly less gimmicky, than for instance that weird thing that they call "skiathlon"..

zapata said:
And on that note, the whole sport of biathlon has always seemed gimmicky to me. I've watched it closely since the early eighties, and the races have often been exciting, but spmehow I have never taken it quite seriously. Probably because of it's arbitrary nature, as opposed to real skiing.

Spoken by someone who had a poster of Eirik Kvalfoss on his bedroom wall..

Well, combination sports by their very design are less 'pure', although is biathlon really any more arbitrary than the way your success or failure in the XC sprints can depend on which heat you got drawn into? I'll get back to biathlon in a sec.

I don't have a problem with sprints per se, they have a time and a place. It's just that I see that time and place as a bit like the Gelsenkirchen biathlon races (or the Püttlingen/Sandnes offseason rollerski ones), the DTM race at the Olympic Stadium, or the Munich head-to-head slalom Alpine race. Instead they seem to be becoming omnipresent, with an event at seemingly almost every World Cup meet, taking the place of 'real' races.

Worse, the popularity of these events is bleeding over into the rest of XC skiing in general, giving us more mass start events, shorter events and those few real distance races that remain seem to be running on shorter and shorter loops, rather reducing the whole 'cross-country' aspect of cross-country skiing. And the proliferation of all these short races and sprints taking the place of real distance races is creating a generation of people whose capability to think tactically over a long distance race is greatly reduced (and fans whose attention span isn't long enough for these races), and you get prestigious races like the 50km at Holmenkollen degenerating into a Tour de France sprint stage. And, worse, the number of these short distance races and sprints tilt the balance of prize money, prestige, victories and so forth in the favour of the muscle-bound sprint powerhouses, meaning that there's more motivation for an aspiring skier to want to be a tank like Kikkan Randall than a more pure skier like Steira.

I find the sprints a cool, enjoyable distraction for a few minutes once in a while, but after that, I'd like to get to real racing. I certainly don't need to be seeing them every week.

Now, you are well aware that I am very much into my biathlon, and you could well draw my attention to a not dissimilar and parallel development in biathlon. And you would be right to do so. The popularity of events like the Mass Start has led to a shift in focus of the sport similar to that in XC, but less extreme. And the 'arbitrary' as you put it nature of biathlon does at least ensure we don't get events where everybody stays together until the last kilometre and then they have a sprint. The Ruhpolding Mass Start this season was probably the closest we've got to that, with the front group skiing at half-speed for three laps letting those with only one miss (and some with two) come back to them. Said 'arbitrary' nature also means we see a lot more variety in skiing levels, with some of the quickest being able to be competitive against their XC counterparts, but some who are way, way down speed-wise but because of the nature of biathlon are able to be more competitive against the likes of Svendsen, Domracheva or Gößner than they would be in a straight ski race. But this means that typically larger time gaps are both generated and closed, of course, and while most mass start races of all kinds lead to everybody coming to shooting 1 together, things generally break apart pretty soon after that.

The movement towards events like the Mass Start has had one effect on the biathlon calendar that I am very against, however: the marginalisation of the Individual. Both as a traditionalist (it is of course how the sport began) and as a fan of the modern version of the sport I consider this a bad thing. And I say that as somebody who cheers for Lars Berger and Miriam Gößner. Much of the sport is presently in a form where the best skiers come out on top. The penalty loop being the same length for men and women, you would think, would make shooting more important for the women, seeing as they ski slower around the same length loop, and have less distance on the skis to make that time up; however the lower standard deviation among the men's ski speeds means that it evens out. The Individual is the one event where truly anybody can win; the distance on the skis is the longest, giving the maximum time for a Domracheva or a Lars Berger to drive home their skiing advantage... but the penalty for a miss is more than twice that of the other races, so (especially if conditions are bad) people who can shoot 90-100% but aren't so hot on the skis can podium or even win too, which is seldom the case in, say, the sprint race. I'd say it's not the case in the Mass Start, but Andi Birnbacher is a bit of a specialist in that discipline and he has no skiing advantage over the likes of Fourcade whatsoever. Either way, looking at the last three years, the Individual has seen people like Erik Lesser, Anna Maria Nilsson, Simon Schempp, Maksim Maksimov, Tina Bachmann and Benjamin Weger taste the podium, people that you would normally not expect to be competing for the podium in, say, the Mass Start (events like Leguellec winning the sprint in Östersund and Hojnisz's Mass Start bronze at the Worlds notwithstanding, of course).
 
Vino attacks everyone said:
Like who?
Arguably the best classics guys are the same guys that will be there in the skating (perhaps except of Poltaranin). Nordthug, Legkov, Cologna, noone of them are any weaker in classic style than the other

sundby apparantly has some secret plan for tomorrow.
 
Libertine Seguros said:
Worse, the popularity of these events is bleeding over into the rest of XC skiing in general, giving us more mass start events, shorter events and those few real distance races that remain seem to be running on shorter and shorter loops

This is the real problem, but I hardly think the sprints are the cause. More like symptoms of the same tendency.
 
Bavarianrider said:
Stone grinding?:D

The skiathlon is a god intention but it simply doesn't work.
They should simply to a 15km classic race in the morning and a handicap start based on that in the afternoon. Would be so much better.

I'm not privy to his secret, but I can imagine it is some version of "go early"? and yes, the skiathlon is pretty stupid.
 
Sep 25, 2009
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Here’s the course of the skiathlon.
http://www.fiemme2013.com/mappe/23-02 Skiathlon Men 30 Km.pdf

i expect some fireworks starting in the classic leg, b/c there’s a ½ km ascent (apr 10% average) with 2 distinct steep slopes offering opportunities for accelerations.

the skating loop also offers some sharp hills but much shorter where by my reckoning it would be very difficult to drop an inform northug (unless he’s spent).

reto burgermeister said he expects very good performances from 2 of his charges b/c he wants vyalbe to charge her mind about not seeing legkov in the team relay... i wonder if hellner recovered sufficiently ? i hope he did (but he would still suck in classic :mad:)

My podium w/o any place assignments:

cologna, roethe, vyleg/legkov/northug
 
Bavarianrider said:
I hope tmorrow someone who's best technique is classic, has actually the balls to blow up the race and tries to rip the field apart. I mean seriously, what do they have to lose?

Vino attacks everyone said:
Like who?
Arguably the best classics guys are the same guys that will be there in the skating (perhaps except of Poltaranin). Nordthug, Legkov, Cologna, noone of them are any weaker in classic style than the other

Eldar Rønning could, since he is much stronger in classic than skating. Sundby perhaps, but he now seems equally strong in both. Bauer if he is on form is much better in classic.

Top guys that might get into trouble if the classic gets tough are Manificat, Legkov and Hellner. Could be in someones interest to make them work more than they want to in the classic.

It's a difficult balance with skiathlon. (it's my favorite event) Remember that they are using combination boots. Not as soft as classic boots and not as stiff as skating boots. If you are vulnerable in any of the styles it will make it harder.

Then there is the changover. A lot of skiers have trouble right after the change, often those who are weaker in classic. That's the perfect time to make an attack if you are able.

python said:
Here’s the course of the skiathlon.
http://www.fiemme2013.com/mappe/23-02 Skiathlon Men 30 Km.pdf

i expect some fireworks starting in the classic leg, b/c there’s a ½ km ascent (apr 10% average) with 2 distinct steep slopes offering opportunities for accelerations.

the skating loop also offers some sharp hills but much shorter where by my reckoning it would be very difficult to drop an inform northug (unless he’s spent).

reto burgermeister said he expects very good performances from 2 of his charges b/c he wants vyalbe to charge her mind about not seeing legkov in the team relay... i wonder if hellner recovered sufficiently ? i hope he did (but he would still suck in classic :mad:)

My podium w/o any place assignments:

cologna, roethe, vyleg/legkov/northug

Thanks! I hope it starts off tough like the girls do it.

As for Hellner in classic. There might be a chance he might handle it this time. The Swedes seem to have had god skis in the sprints, so this might give him the mental edge needed to ski correctly in the classic. One can only hope.

Personally I'm hoping Richardsson shines again. Him in good form would really break things apart.
 
Vino attacks everyone said:
How would you people rank Bjrogen against women like Valbe and others?

Well in terms of accomplishements she's up there among the all time greats.
Head to Head?
Well that's always a bit difficult to say obviously due to many factors. But it's hard to imagine that Björgen wouldn't be among the very best, if not the best, in any era.
 
MrRoboto said:
Well..this was quite silly. No surprise who will win the relay at least.
There is no competition whatsoever in women's XC skiing. Norway is virtually the only nation with a significant budget and serious athletes. It's a joke, really.

I'm sure there are 4-5 female biathletes who are better than the best non-Norwegian XC skier in skating (Gössner, Mäkarainen, Domracheva...).
 
maltiv said:
There is no competition whatsoever in women's XC skiing. Norway is virtually the only nation with a significant budget and serious athletes. It's a joke, really.

Vino attacks everyone said:
How would you people rank Bjrogen against women like Valbe and others?

As Bavarianrider said...It's hard to compare directly. But I think Välbe had tougher competition. More competition at least.

What is certain is that the norwegian women's team now resemble the russian/soviet women's team throughout the history. It's strange seeing how bad the russian women after so many years of total domination.
 
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the last hill of the 4th classic loop is coming up...if there is no any decisive attack there, the skating leg will be norwegian again.