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Nordic Skiing/Biathlon Thread

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Feb 15, 2014
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Björndalen and Domracheva announced that they will be the head coaches of the Chinese biathlon teams (Ole overall head coach, Darya coach of women's team).

How many of the team will be able to beat their coaches in ski speed before the season is over? That should be a marker of points scoring potential at least ;)
 
Iivo Niskanen is probably at a very high fitness level. Says he will clock 1100hrs of training this season if he stays healty. Over the weekend he beat Bolshunov by 40sec on 10k classic in Muonio, Fin. Also won a 15k skate race, which to me is an even better indicator as he usually doe not shine skating. Dont know how this translates to peak form, if at all, as there are no worlds or olympics this season. But by his admission Ruka Wc races are A races, so maybe he is at a different stage of the form curve than many others.
 

KZD

Feb 21, 2019
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Surprising news coming from Norway, Klaebo was only fifth in today's classic sprint in Beitostolen. For someone that was so dominant in the past two seasons in the sprint distance losing against three Norwegians and Chanavat, someone which is better in freestyle could mean that he will be unble of getting a third crystal globe but it will also be interesting to see how will he perform in the longer distances in which his performances are usually more dependent of his shape.

The winner today was U23 champion Erik Valnes who I predict, will achieve great results this season.
 

KZD

Feb 21, 2019
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So today Klaebo rebound and was 2th in the 15km classic 18 seconds behind Tonseth. Quite unusual to see him stronger in a longer distance than in the sprint although he has always been strong in the 15 C and he changed his training. Its going to be interesting to see how he performs against the Russians and Niskanen that is looking super strong. Today the big news was Sundby only managing 31th. He lost a good timing for retirement last season since I don't think he will be ever going back to his best.

On the ladies side Johaug crushing Weng by more than 1 min with prodigy Helene Fosseholm only a few seconds back while in Sweden it was Frida Karlsson's turn beating Sundling and Kalla by more than 40 seconds. It looks like Karlsson will really be Johaug main rival at least until the Tour de Ski.
 
Jan 7, 2019
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On the ladies side Johaug crushing Weng by more than 1 min with prodigy Helene Fosseholm only a few seconds back while in Sweden it was Frida Karlsson's turn beating Sundling and Kalla by more than 40 seconds. It looks like Karlsson will really be Johaug main rival at least until the Tour de Ski.
I think it is a bit early to call conclusions for the World Cup, because in those races some skiers were missing, i.e Andersson and Nilsson. Also we don't quite conclusively know, how good some of the outsiders, i.e Nepryaeva, might be at this stage.

But sure looks like Johaug is the one to beat again. And it will be interesting to see the progress of Fossessholm, which seems to be rapid. Already part of World Cup team this year? Will she feature in top 10 in some races?
 

KZD

Feb 21, 2019
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Didn't Klæbo move into the distance team last year, so we would expect to see him transition to being more competitive across longer distances now?
Yes he made the shift and will likely improve, at least when compared with last season but I don't think he is as strong as Northug in long distances and let's see if he doesn't lose something in the sprint.

Still, considering that this year we have a proper World cup with 6 races with or over 30km when compared with just 2 last season, I think Bolshunov will win at least if he keeps last season's shape.
 
So was the snow slowing or was Brennan's time just that good? I missed Rosie's actual run so couldn't see what the conditions underfoot were like, and being as it's the first distance race of the season, judging form is a bit harder as well as who has made real strides in the off-season, plus of course when you miss somebody's run you can't see how the skis are gliding either. Commentators seem to think it's getting faster now, but there's lots of athletes close together in a time-compressed field other than Johaug and Pärmäkoski, with Brennan the best of the rest but both Weng and Niskanen had been ahead of her and fell back. And Pärmäkoski being 2nd and well ahead of Brennan and Weng is more in the same way as Gustav Erik Larsson's medal in Mendrisio.

Edit: hmm, does seem to definitely be speeding up. Kateřina Razýmová looking like taking the podium and a few other late starters coming into it. Looks like Brennan's time probably was just that good.
 
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KZD

Feb 21, 2019
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Well Klaebo really proved me wrong in these two first races winning the sprint by a mile and getting second in today's 15 C individual race. Tomorrow he will likely win the Tour in the pursuit, he just needs to follow Niskanen and then beat him in the final sprint. Bolshunov was a disappointment today, his classic doesn't seem to be improving and it will be difficult to get on the Tour podium tomorrow unless either Niskanen or Iversen have a bad day.

In the women's side really nice to see new names but Karlsson was a disappointment and Jogaug will win theTour and likely gain a big advantage in the World Cup next races. Also, what is happening with Oestberg, are they hiding something?
 
Jan 7, 2019
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On the women side no Swedes in top 10 and Andersson is injured. Certainly not a good start into the season for them. But they are bound to get better as the season evolves.

On the men side top 10 consists of Niskanen + only Russians and Norwegians, so no surprises there.
 
Hmm, Dont think pärmäkoski was simply pulled to the 2nd place by johaug. Post race, she acknowledged the help but went on to say that when the two were together she would have wanted to pull faster on the flats but said johaug's pace uphill was quite enough. A signature slow start held her back. Johaug did not seem to have grippy enough skis, but this is just my impression.

As predicted, bro Niskanen is very fit. Tomorrow will show how much his skate has improved. Kläbo surprised me a bit, though. Very rare to have his lactic kick and tt stamina at once.
 
Jan 7, 2019
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I have to say Katerina Razymova's 5th was a huge surprise and came literally out of nowhere. How did this happen? Can she keep up in skate pursuit?

Anyway, biathlon individual world cup season about to start today too.
 
Klaebo already won the classic race in Ruka 2 years ago, so it's not out of the blue. He seems to be better at classic, mainly in distance races.
Pellegrino doing so well surprised me.
 
Kläbo did not come out of the blue, of course, but has been more prominent in mass starts. And more generally, sprinters with high lactate generating capacity tend to be different animals than TTers with a lesser capacity at that. The kick at the end of the Ruka sprint finale for one was vicious. And to lose less than a sec per km on a tt just a day after is remarkable.
 
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Too 'remarkable' for my liking.

None of the placings were too shocking amongst the top 10. Bolshunov was battling illness recently and not sure he fully recovered or it's just going to take him some more races to get going. He didn't look as snappy as he did last year, in either the sprint or the distance race.

Niskanen was crushing the race yesterday. He slowed down a bit in the last couple k otherwise he was going to win by close to 30 seconds. Yes, Klaebo and Iversen finished strong. Niskanen seems to have improved his skating the last two seasons and in the early Finnish cup races this season he won convincingly. He is in good form, as was expected. The Finns were planning a peak for this weekend and it's showing. It'll be interesting what he does today. I kind of think he'll drop Iversen and will try to catch Klaebo, but even if he does, we already know the final result...

Behind them there will be a hot pursuit. As Bolshunov's shape is not as good as it was last year, I think he won't make a huge dent. He'll fight for a podium but skiers like Ustiugov and Holund will likely catch him. I am interested to see if Ustiugov can have a monster day and fight for a podium. He would deserve it after battling health problems last season.
 
Well, Iivo has caught Klæbo largely because Northug Jr Jr sat up, but he didn't drop Iversen, so it's going to have to be the final ramp or bust for Iivo, he hasn't been able to break them so I think this is going to be a Norwegian 1-2, Klæbo led onto the final ramp last lap, Niskanen was strongest on it but had nothing like the kind of gap that would allow him to overcome his sprint weakness compared to the two Norwegians on the final straight.

Edit: and in the end he spent too much trying to break them and had nothing for that ramp anyway. Eurosport comms cooing about the incredible tactical awareness of Klæbo just like they used to do about Northug, because sitting up and waiting for the sprint is, to them, great tactical thinking (forgetting that it only works if, like Klæbo or Northug before him, you have the best sprint of those remaining - it's great tactics for that particular athlete but if Iversen or Niskanen had tried it here, it would be really bone-headed tactics!). He really is the new Northug in almost every way, at least as a skier. He certainly gives the impression that he has the potential to be as disagreeable a personality as Northug, but he hasn't seen fit to push that boundary yet.
 
I am guessing you watched the English feed? Patrick Winterton/Mike Dixon+David Goldstrom? Yeah, I won't be tuning in to those guys this season. I've been watching it via YouTube. Russian/Finnish/Swedish. The Brits are so enamored by Klaebo and the Norwegians it's really boring. Exactly as you said, they've been lauding Klaebo's 'tactics' and 'brilliant tactician' the way they did with Northug. I mean, what tactics? Just like last year in the Quebec finals, Bolshunov drove the whole way, made up almost a minute, and Klaebo just sat in when Bolshunov caught him and sprinted away in the final few hundred meters. Wow. Such 'brilliant tactic.'

This is turning into the 2015/2016 season where the Norwegians are peppering the top 10-15 spots. Even pure sprinters are dropping other countries' top skiers. Golberg, who was mostly a sprinter that could podium in occasional 10/15km classic races is now outskiing Bolshunov. Skar, a primarily skate sprinter is now contending for the top 10 (or higher) in tours. I was very surprised to see how well he did yesterday. Holund catching Ustiugov then dropping him with ease. Another 5km and....I don't know...pushed for the podium??

9 Norwegians in the top 16. 3 in the top 4. 6 in the top 8. And their best skater, Krüger didn't start today. And Sundby not in form/family matters.

I don't see how this sport is going to continue in the future. It'll be the Norwegians vs Russians (thats saying if the Russians will be allowed to compete...) plus a spattering of individuals like Niskanen in distance events, Pellegrino in sprints (mostly in skate technique), the French (mostly in skate events) and sometimes the Swedes. If the Russians do get a blanket ban, then I am afraid it'll be a Norwegian parade. It'll be 9 Norwegians in the top 10 or 12. Who wants to watch that? I am sure even Norwegian viewers would be bored of that.
 
I think Niskanen played his hand as good as it goes, the attempt to attack on top of the steepest hill ("seinänousu") false flat was exactly the spot to try, but he simply was not strong enough to drop the two. Should have attacked a bit longer, perhaps, but he quite likely immediately knew he did not have it.

Even If Niskanen was fresh abd kläbo not, kläbo drops him on the final ramp 9 out of 10 times. Valverde vs Tony Martin kinda thing, just different athletes.

Somehow the Finnish training system only creates diesels with no kick and strips the kick off those who had it as juniors. Rus, SWE snd NOR manage to add speed to stamina. Among finns Hakola is probably the exception, but not a top sprinter or distance racer. The culture here idolises a nostalgic view of the sport.

Norwegian dominance this year seems to be very strong again. Boring.
 

KZD

Feb 21, 2019
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Niskanen used the right strategy. The only way to drop Klaebo is with an high sustained pace but the problem was that Klaebo was very strong today since he was able to last almost 10km alone while keeping the distances almost intact. Iversen is looking quite good too, he can be one of Klaebo's main rivals during the season although its very difficult to see him winning the World Cup unless Klaebo has some problem.

The Russians were disappointing today, Bolshunov and Ustuygov are still far from their best and Neprayeva was just terrible. I also took notice that some of the biggest names are missing like Belorukova, Sedova, Spitsov or Chervotkin.

In the biathlon, it seems that Johannes Boe will win in front of his brother, which is looking really fast and Fourcade will almost match his ski times. At least there is potential to avoid a borefest. Unlike in Kuusamo the Russians were strong in Östersund
 
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Jan 7, 2019
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I don't see how this sport is going to continue in the future. It'll be the Norwegians vs Russians (thats saying if the Russians will be allowed to compete...) plus a spattering of individuals like Niskanen in distance events, Pellegrino in sprints (mostly in skate technique), the French (mostly in skate events) and sometimes the Swedes. If the Russians do get a blanket ban, then I am afraid it'll be a Norwegian parade. It'll be 9 Norwegians in the top 10 or 12. Who wants to watch that? I am sure even Norwegian viewers would be bored of that.
Well, I do think the sport is dying a slow death at least what concerns international competition and I don't see a long-term future for it as a professional sport, so let's enjoy what is still left.:)

By the way, looking at top 20, the best non-Nordic/Russian skier was... Pellegrino in 19th. Should tell you well, where the balance of powers is at the moment. In women there were a few surprises though, like Razymova in top 10.

On the women side I just hope Swedes have timed their form for the later part of the season, because this has been a very underwhelming weekend for them. However, it will be another Johaug whitewash over the season. It's just the question of who will finish 2nd and 3rd in whatever races. Nepryaeva died completely in 10k skate though, so what happened there?
 
I think Niskanen played his hand as good as it goes, the attempt to attack on top of the steepest hill ("seinänousu") false flat was exactly the spot to try, but he simply was not strong enough to drop the two. Should have attacked a bit longer, perhaps, but he quite likely immediately knew he did not have it.

Even If Niskanen was fresh abd kläbo not, kläbo drops him on the final ramp 9 out of 10 times. Valverde vs Tony Martin kinda thing, just different athletes.

Somehow the Finnish training system only creates diesels with no kick and strips the kick off those who had it as juniors. Rus, SWE snd NOR manage to add speed to stamina. Among finns Hakola is probably the exception, but not a top sprinter or distance racer. The culture here idolises a nostalgic view of the sport.

Norwegian dominance this year seems to be very strong again. Boring.
Interesting point about Niskanen and the Finnish system that creates diesels and the traditional approach. I do think that Niskanen has a good 'punch' at the end of distance races. It's obviously not on Klaebo's level, but I think he can bring it. The issue is that he had to ski hard to catch Klaebo and then fight against Norwegian team tactics. A good, but not fantastic kick against two better finishers and teammates plus him having to work just to get to a potentially winning position. On one hand I wonder if he should have rested a bit more when he caught Klaebo, but on the other he had to keep the pace high to try to weaken if not drop Klaebo. Neither happened. But the tactic was obvious and it was a good choice. It just didn't pan out.

I am very interested in seeing what Niskanen will do next weekend for the skiathlon in Lillehammer. That course is very tough. The Ruka course is tough as well, but there's one big hill and the final hill that leads to the finish. Lillehammer has steep hills and they are long. I think Niskanen will drive the pace in the classic portion. The main problem will be that there are so many Norwegians that they'll surely employ a team tactic. He won't be able to get away. Perhaps he won't even dictate as much as he'd like.

Hopefully he gets help from some of the non-Norwegians in the field.
 
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Women biathlon season is surely going to be interesting. It's the matter of who can be most consistent over the season to settle the overall victory. Vittozzi somehow starts the season with a non-score already though, as does Mäkäräinen for that matter.

JT.Bö is the grand favourite for the men's season. The big questionmark is Fourcade, but it seems like at least his ski speed is good enough for now, which must be encouraging. As this is where he dropped off last year.
 
Niskanen used the right strategy. The only way to drop Klaebo is with an high sustained pace but the problem was that Klaebo was very strong today since he was able to last almost 10km alone while keeping the distances almost intact. Iversen is looking quite good too, he can be one of Klaebo's main rivals during the season although its very difficult to see him winning the World Cup unless Klaebo has some problem.

The Russians were disappointing today, Bolshunov and Ustuygov are still far from their best and Neprayeva was just terrible. I also took notice that some of the biggest names are missing like Belorukova, Sedova, Spitsov or Chervotkin.

In the biathlon, it seems that Johannes Boe will win in front of his brother, which is looking really fast and Fourcade will almost match his ski times. At least there is potential to avoid a borefest. Unlike in Kuusamo the Russians were strong in Östersund

No doubt a grinding pace is what can kill Klaebo off, but as you said, Klaebo was good today and he was never in danger of being dropped. There needs to be a sustanied effort and that cannot be done by one or two skiers, there has to be a number of strong guys that can work to keep the pace high. Niskanen, Bolshunov, Ustiugov, Halfvarsson, etc, have to in a way work together.

The Russians were disappointing the the whole weekend. Ustiugov false started and was DQ'd. Svensson false started, then Ustiugov false started. Since that was the second false start in that heat, he was DQ'd. He was relegated automatically to last place (30th) in the heats. With that he lost 30 seconds+the 5 seconds he was behind Klaebo in the qualification. He skied an ok classic race, finishing 9th, but he lost almost a minute to Niskanen and 44 seconds to Klaebo. That's a lot of time. I thought given his good qualification time in the sprint and a solid race yesterday, he could pull off a good one today and who knows, even threaten the podium, but that didn't happen. He isn't in great form to start the season, but he'll get better and he'll contend for wins, as will Bolshunov and the rest of the Russians. Bolshunov has battled sickness leading up to the first races, so he's not in the greatest form either, while Klaebo and the Norwegians appear that they are.

The Russians that weren't in Ruka, well, Belorukova and Sedova are pregnant, so they will miss the entire season. Nepryaeva apparently had sore muscles and instead of giving her a light massage, she decided to go for a 'deeper' massage but it only made her more sore hence the poor result today. That was according to her coach.

Spitsov is going to be used for skiathlons and skate races, as he's a better skater and I guess they felt that with a classic sprint followed by an individual classic race they'd be doing a disservice to him. He's preparing for upcoming WC's. Chervotkin is sick so he cannot race. There are also skiers like Belov that are waiting for the next races. The Russians have too good of a team, particularly on the men's side to not be a challenge to the Norwegians.
 

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