Nordic Skiing/Biathlon Thread

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Ustyugov and Bolshunov need to be smart tomorrow, take the later heats, preferably 4th or 5th respectively. Let Retivykh fight with Klaebo in the earlier heats. Then aim for the spots in the second semifinal, I know that destroys your chances of winning the race, but I think they, for once, need to look at the bigger picture. Final tomorrow is a a must for them, especially if Roethe doesn't make it into the TOP 30. IMO he's currently the bigger threat to them than Klaebo.
 
Ustyugov and Bolshunov need to be smart tomorrow, take the later heats, preferably 4th or 5th respectively. Let Retivykh fight with Klaebo in the earlier heats. Then aim for the spots in the second semifinal, I know that destroys your chances of winning the race, but I think they, for once, need to look at the bigger picture. Final tomorrow is a a must for them, especially if Roethe doesn't make it into the TOP 30. IMO he's currently the bigger threat to them than Klaebo.
Mainly for Bolshunov, Ustiogov has always been really solid on the Alpe Cermins.

I have to agree that Klaebo's conering is just on another level, he's great at doing that.
I don't watch the race on British ES, but I also prefer watching it on Swiss TV over German, less anti-Russian bias and I don't mind them cheering a bit for Cologna.
 
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The second semifinals are underrated. Linn Svahn won in Davos by taking the last 5th quarterfinal and 2nd semifinal. Sure, you have a bit less time to recover from heats, but if you not such a big favourite that you are guaranteed to finish in top 2 in every heat, why the hell would you team up with Kläbo and Pellegrino in the heats? Better be the loser in the final than drop out in earlier heats.
 
Women and men races are not comparable, when you race in the women's 5th heat, there are still at least 5, or 6 races before your next race. Also between the 2nd women's semifinal there are 2 races before the final. However, if you're in the men's 5th heat, you only have 2 or 3 races before your next race. And only one if you're in the men's second semifinal.
 
Exactly what I was thinking about the heats tomorrow. Nothing is a given, they need to make the heats first. Bolshunov has been more or less solid in sprinting, so I think he should be able to do a very good race tomorrow, if he tactically races smart and doesn't go all or nothing from the start. Ustiugov has lost a gear or two in the sprints. It's not just the cornering, but also he's lacking a bit in the gear changes these days. I think the back problems he's had since 2018 have maybe played a role in that.

I absolutely agree on the heat selection. If they qualify in the top 10, they'll have good options, so hopefully they take the later heats and just worry about getting into the semis. If they are together in the 2nd semi, let's say, they could work together and just tactically get through the final. If they need to ski a faster heat to make sure they are in the final, they would do that. Otherwise yeah, it's just the same old story, pick heat one or two and ski with Klaebo. I don't understand that. You can sometimes experiment with that and see what happens and you learn from it, but why do it so often? Are they really afraid of their own sprinting abilities that they have to take Klaebo's heat to make sure it's a fast heat and they can get in as LL's? Get into the heats, ski smart in the quarters and go from there.

Looking at the situation in the Lenzerheide sprint. Klaebo gained 32 seconds on Bolshunov (30 for the placing bonuses and was 1.97 faster in the qualification) and 38 (36+2) on Ustiugov. Bolshunov finished 8th and Ustiugov 11th. If the exact same scenario were to play out tomorrow, Klaebo would be looking at 14 second lead on Bolshunov and 41 on Ustiugov before the final stage. Not an impossible task for the Russians, but you just never know how the legs and lungs will work. Last year Ustiugov was 1:04 faster than Klaebo on the final stage and 47 seconds faster than Bolshunov. That said, Roethe and Krüger were 1:15 faster than Ustiugov and after today, Ustiugov has 1:06 and 2:07 on them, respectively. Holund beat Ustiugov by 24 seconds last year and this year he's 1:13 behind the Russian. That could balloon tomorrow, but Ustiugov said that Klaebo isn't necessarily the one he's worried about, it's the climbers like Roethe that could be more dangerous, as they could take 1:30, 2:00 on the leaders.
 
Women and men races are not comparable, when you race in the women's 5th heat, there are still at least 5, or 6 races before your next race. Also between the 2nd women's semifinal there are 2 races before the final. However, if you're in the men's 5th heat, you only have 2 or 3 races before your next race. And only one if you're in the men's second semifinal.
But do you take a risk in skiing in a tougher heat with Klaebo to get more rest or do you take an 'easier' heat to be more safe of a semifinal or final spot but risk getting less rest? Either way Klaebo is the big favorite and anyone would be hard pressed to beat him, and this sprint course suits him very very well. He has a hill where he can run up it and get a gap and then he has a long, fast (though not technical) downhill into the stadium, so even if he's gapped at the top, he can use his fast skis (I am assuming they'll be fast tomorrow) and catch whoever is leading. Plus Bolshunov has lost out on that very same scenario in heats before, even in heats without Klaebo. That's why I think picking the last two heats and making sure you are in the semis at least is better than risking not qualifying. Bolshunov has pushed the pace in quarterfinal heats many times and sometimes he would lose out on the LL time and finish in 5th or 6th in the heat.
 
I don't watch the race on British ES, but I also prefer watching it on Swiss TV over German, less anti-Russian bias and I don't mind them cheering a bit for Cologna.
in what way do you see them as anti-Russian? Behle makes those occasional jokes about their tactical inability, but to me it never really came across as a bias. Personally I think both German Eurosport as well as SRF are pretty good.
 
in what way do you see them as anti-Russian? Behle makes those occasional jokes about their tactical inability, but to me it never really came across as a bias. Personally I think both German Eurosport as well as SRF are pretty good.
Sorry, I was thinking about public German TV, ZDF and ARD are a bit anti-Russian when it comes to Clinic related stuff.
 
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How is Roethe not penalized? He just pushed Larkov over to the next lane
Because he’s Norwegian and he’s fighting for a podium spot. Had it been a non Norwegian he would have been DQ’d. I don’t understand why Larkov was punished. You can switch lanes in the finishing straight when you are trying to pass someone. It’s not like he purposefully tried to impede Jay. But one of the main race officials is a Norwegian, Ella Gjømle Berg, former Olympian.

I wonder if the Russians filed a protest. They should have.
 
The Russians did the best that could, they distanced Golberg in the final climb and then hold on for 2° and 3° spot.
However Klaebo managed to get the Tour lead by 1 second which means that the two Russians will have to distance him. I am fairly certain Ustiugov will be able to do it because he was much stronger than Klaebo there last season, while Bolshunov will have a hard time. Still the World Cup overall will be quite open between these three, althoug
If one of these have a bad day, Roethe will be looking for a podium spot.

On the women's side Jacobsen is looking really good but its almost impossible to see her or Neprayeva holding Johaug or Ostberg there.
Andersson compromised her podium chances today
 
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So Lampic has won both of the tour sprints. Not sure if this is tour specific or she could repeat it in other sprints too. The performance orders were a bit weird in the tour sprints though. For example Sundling has been good in distance races, but unimpressive in sprints. Not sure I understand that. But regarding Lampic it has to be said she has a very good finishing ability. She proved it already in Seefeld WCH, when she moved Slovenia up to 2nd position.

Kläbo won the men's sprint as expected, but not sure how satisfied he is about it given that the Russians were right after him. And Ustiugov in second proved that second semifinal isn't all that horrible place to be at all.

Tomorrow - I guess Johaug and Ustiugov have to be the favourites for the overall win. If there is one upside about the mass-start, we can see with our naked eyes, who really are the best climbers. Working out the overall standings will be a pain though. Wonder how will athletes cope with it. Coaches will shout them time gaps on the hill?
 
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Still the World Cup overall will be quite open between these three,
I think from world cup overall point of view Kläbo would be fine with finishing second ahead of Bolshunov. Beating Bolshu would be his main target in this scenario. Ustiugov is further down in the overall standings and Kläbo can live with him winning the tour.
 
I am not 100% certain that Ustiugov will just fly by Klaebo, although he is favored to win. Bolshunov will have a harder time, even though he is right behind Klaebo. Two of the three danger men, Krüger and Holund lost ground, in Holund's case, a lot of ground. He is now 2:34 behind Klaebo and Bolshunov and 2:19 behind Ustiugov. He's really going to have to ski the race of his life to catch the leaders. Krüger is 3:17 behind the leaders. He, too, will have to ski out of his skin. I don't think either of those guys will get on the podium. Roethe (IMO, a bit fortunate to make it as far as he did today) is 2:01 behind the two leaders and 1:46 behind Ustiugov. If we take last year's results into consideration, then He will have a chance and could very well pass both Bolshunov and Klaebo, but will be short of Ustiugov. This year being a mass start we may not see the leaders leak that much time to the best climbers, but they will lose time, there is no doubt about that.

A couple days ago, I saw some clips of the flat trail between the stadium and the foot of the climb and predictably there's very little snow. There's not a lot of room and it'll likely be single file. Anyone that dares pass in that section may cause havoc in the field. With 62 (assuming everyone that raced today starts tomorrow) skiers on course, going fast on tired legs, it could get dangerous. Pål Golberg was interviewed by Norwegian media and said that it could be very dangerous and criticized FIS and the organizers for having the stage be a mass start. Jacobsen was among those that agreed. Golberg said that with asphalt right next to the trail it could cause injuries if someone were to fall and go off course.

It doesn't make sense from a risk/health perspective, it makes no sense from a lack of snow perspective, it makes no sense from a GC perspective and it will be hard for some to figure out the timing/who is where in the standings, etc. I guess having that uncertainty may add to the drama...if Mignerey really wanted that. What's funny (well, kind of funny, but definitely mind boggling) is that Mignerey himself didn't check out the course, some of the other FIS technical delegates did, but he thinks it's the right decision to go ahead with the mass start.

In any case, it's FIS being FIS in terms of making head scratching decisions to erase all traces of traditional cross country skiing.

Will there be teamwork involved tomorrow? I think there will be, certainly up to the start of the climb. The Norwegians and Russians will have men up front to shepherd their leaders safely. Once the climb starts, it may be every man for himself. I could see a scenario where someone that's outside of the top 10, like Jan Thomas Jenssen, sacrifices himself for Klaebo. Or the top climbers that I mentioned above tow Klaebo for the first minute or two of the climb and then go for it. Same thing could be done by the Russians. Melnichenko and Spitsov won't challenge for the podium (ok, Melnichenko could maybe possibly do something, as he's in 11th and had the third fastest time last year). But I am thinking Larkov and Yakimushkin may be the main helpers. Finding a good spot before the narrow trail could be very important, for both the leaders and their 'helpers.' There are going to be two bonus points sprints, one at the end of the stadium lap and the second at the finish line. I read Retyvikh decided that he will stay and race tomorrow, to try and get the maximum points in the first sprint point. That may be a good place to spread the field out a bit.

The women's race is going to be, for once, a fascinating battle up the Alpe. Johaug is the big favorite, obviously, and having the leader's bib and not having to work to catch anyone will take away a lot of pressure. After that it's unclear what will happen. You'd think that Oestberg at number 4 will overtake Jacobsen and Nepryaeva, as she is the better climber of those three. Andersson is a really good climber, but she may be too far back to challenge for the podium. There is also Weng, who likewise climbs very well, usually, and she's 47 seconds behind Johaug, but could end up on the podium. That said, last year she was only 19 seconds faster than Nepryaeva on the climb, but was overall 10 seconds behind the Russian on the fastest time of the day for the whole stage. There may still be hope for Nepryaeva to stay on the podium. What was very disappointing for her was the fall and the broken pole at the start of today's final. She would have fought for the stage win, no doubt, but she lost out and she also lost out on important bonus seconds. Her skis weren't the best yesterday and she was strong there as well, so unfortunately two missed opportunities to gain on the overall lead (likely snatch the bib had she won today) and keep her sprinters jersey. Now she lost out on all of those possibilities, which is a real pity because she's been the most consistent skier of the tour, woman or man. She's been no lower than 6th at the tour. That's great consistency. I hope she hangs on to finish on the podium, she deserves it.
 
I think from world cup overall point of view Kläbo would be fine with finishing second ahead of Bolshunov. Beating Bolshu would be his main target in this scenario. Ustiugov is further down in the overall standings and Kläbo can live with him winning the tour.
True, and there's also the new 'ski tour' in Scandinavia in February, where Bolshunov will be favored over Klaebo, and every point will be crucial. But what about a scenario where Klaebo gets dropped by Bolshunov on the climb, and somebody like Roethe is chasing a podium and a stage win, but is told to slow down by the coaches to not leapfrog Klaebo in the overall standings (no matter where the two Russians are)??
 
Heidi is looking very laboured though, she has fallen away towards the end of the distance races and, though she's a very good climber, I think that impacted her last year too. Typically in previous years Heidi has been just over a minute slower than Therese's time on the Alpe iirc, but last year she wasn't at her usual level at the end of the race. This seems to be happening a bit too frequently at the moment, one wonders if she just went crazy overworking herself doing every race under the sun to win the overall World Cup when Therese was suspended, I mean last season was her worst since she was 19 years old and while yes, she missed a bunch of the season, she didn't make a single podium in the races she did do outside of two relays.
 
Oh Weng definitely isn't what she was. She burned herself out two years ago battling for the overall win. Even three seasons ago, she wasn't the same in the 2nd half of the season and the World Championships in Lahti. She didn't burn herself too much though, and was able to ski well in 2017/2018 and win the tour de ski and the overall, but again, the 2nd half of the season she got progressively worse, not winning a single individual medal in Korea and wasn't picked for the relay. This season she started off better, but we'll see tomorrow if she can climb onto the podium. I still think she and Andersson can make up time on everyone except Johaug. Jacobsen has done well to be just behind Johaug in the standings and have a shot for the podium. Nepryaeva, as consistent as she's been, I feel missed her chances of getting a few more seconds today and yesterday, where less than stellar skis thwarted her chances. She lost 15 seconds yesterday and missed out on the 60 today (she received 42 for finishing 6th in the final). That 33 potential seconds. Still think she would have found it tough to hang on, but being in the lead by 14 seconds would be much better than being 14 behind in 3rd place. Her chances would be better, obviously.

ps., I am assuming you watched on British Eurosport? I can only imagine how pro-Diggins Dixon and Winterton were!
 
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Fun fact is that Sundling is currently the best based Swede in the overall world cup standings (7th), while others have been out of competition or out of form. Well, I guess at least someone is having a good season!

What concerns Heidi Weng, then she hasn't had exactly a poor season so far. She got a few podiums and is currently still 2nd in the standings. Though maybe scarce competition helped her to get those podiums, while Östberg and Andersson didn't compete.
 
Nepryaeva, as consistent as she's been, I feel missed her chances of getting a few more seconds today and yesterday, where less than stellar skis thwarted her chances. She lost 15 seconds yesterday and missed out on the 60 today (she received 42 for finishing 6th in the final). That 33 potential seconds. Still think she would have found it tough to hang on, but being in the lead by 14 seconds would be much better than being 14 behind in 3rd place. Her chances would be better, obviously.
crashing in the finale was unfortunate of course, but it's not like she looked unbeatable in the heats. In fact, she didn't even really come close to beating Diggins, Scardoni or Lampic in those sprints.

A finale is always different, for sure, but I'd say a podium would have been the best she could have hoped for today.
 
Fun fact is that Sundling is currently the best based Swede in the overall world cup standings (7th), while others have been out of competition or out of form. Well, I guess at least someone is having a good season!

What concerns Heidi Weng, then she hasn't had exactly a poor season so far. She got a few podiums and is currently still 2nd in the standings. Though maybe scarce competition helped her to get those podiums, while Östberg and Andersson didn't compete.
The second half of the season should be interesting. Karlsson should be coming back at some point. Next couple seasons will be very intriguing. Assuming that skiers like Johaug, Jacobsen and Kalla don't retire, there will be a deep women's field, at least the top 10-15 racers. Belorukova and Sedova will return from their pregnancies, Karlsson and Oestberg will hopefully have health issues behind them, likewise Nilsson, the other young Swedish women like Lundgren, Hägström, Svahn, etc will be getting more starts, there are some good young Russians coming up, the Norwegians will likely start Fossessholm and Skistad in more races...There's going to be a lot of good racing, assuming everyone stays healthy.
 
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