Nordic Skiing/Biathlon Thread

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There's going to be a lot of good racing, assuming everyone stays healthy.
That's a good guess, but it has to be said it usually doesn't happen. There are always those, who have health issues or who decline/have bad seasons for whatever reason. There are also those, who have good talent, but are capable of putting in only 1-2 good seasons before going down. A good example would be Maja Dahlqvist, who had a fantastic season last year, although that victory eluded her. Now she is a shadow of her former self.

Well, I guess hopefully there will be good competition at the front and the era of Johaug beating everyone by a minute is over. Then that should be good enough. In this respect the Tour de Ski races have been pretty good.
 
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That's a good guess, but it has to be said it usually doesn't happen. There are always those, who have health issues or who decline/have bad seasons for whatever reason. There are also those, who have good talent, but are capable of putting in only 1-2 good seasons before going down. A good example would be Maja Dahlqvist, who had a fantastic season last year, although that victory eluded her. Now she is a shadow of her former self.

Well, I guess hopefully there will be good competition at the front and the era of Johaug beating everyone by a minute is over. Then that should be good enough. In this respect the Tour de Ski races have been pretty good.
Yes, I think Johaug won't be winning races by huge margins anymore. She may win some individual races by up to 25, 30 seconds, but those will be rare, I think and hope.

Maybe she'll be more mentally pressed when there's a few skiers to challenge her, as was the case yesterday. When was the last time that happened? I think you'd have to go back around 2010 or so. What'll need to happen is Sweden, with their abundance of talent on the women's side will keep pushing Johaug. If Karlsson is back as good as she was last season (she can only get better, I'd say, as she's only 20), and Andersson can stay healthy, Kalla (that's a big question mark, and she's a year older than Johaug), Nilsson (she could challenge in a flatter mass start, like Quebec last season), and allrounders like Lundgren, Sundling, etc can improve their distance skiing, it could be really good. The Norwegian's still have Oestberg, Jacobsen and Weng. Haga's career may have peaked in Korea at the Olympics, so not sure where her form will go. They then have to look toward their juniors. There's the Weng twins, there's Kari Øyre Slind, Kalvå, etc but it's juniors like Fossessholm and sprint specialist Skistad that will likely contend for podiums on the WC. Be also interested to see what Falla will do. She hasn't been as good as she was a few seasons ago. Not that she's not effective or can't challenge for wins, but there's more competition in sprints now and she's not as sharp as she was before.

Can Hennig keep the momentum for the Germans? Be nice to see Germany with a couple skiers (at least) get more consistent and challenge as well. Victoria Carl has had a lot of health issues over the years. She had a good year last season, and was looking ok at the TDS, but injured her arm/shoulder in a crash yesterday. It looked quite painful and she was in tears, then taken to an ambulance. Hopefully she can recover quickly.
 
It'll be interesting to see how the mass start works out today, also in terms of TV coverage. I guess especially in the men's race, it'll be difficult to cover both, the fight for the win today as well as the one for overall victory. Could be a bit chaotic I guess
 
At least the mass start nature meant there was a fight for that first sprint, with bonus seconds available, even if Lampič has no interest in the GC. It's a fully functioning points classification! Who would have thought? Now to get a climb classification, like they have in the Visma Ski Classics, and we're on the way to producing a proper Tour.

Heia Heidi!!!
 
Very surprised about Andersson not starting today, I really wonder how well she could have done if she was healthy. Maybe the gap to the Oestberg, Nepryeava and Weng would have been too great to overcome, but who knows. A pity, because she was really the only Swede that was doing well and in contention. Kalla just isn't what she used to be, or maybe since there's no major championship this year she's not really that bothered if she doesn't get in on the podium or if she has one too many sub-par races. Dahlqvist just having a down year after her exploits last season, plus she hasn't had luck in the sprints, likewise some of the other Swedes.

Theresa Stadlober, great racing to close out the tour in 6th. Katharina Hennig likewise, getting her first podium a couple days ago and skiing well to finish 10th. I think the mass start format helped out skiers like Nepryeava and Diggins.

Well, if there's one thing that I learned from watching the women's stage today is that the gaps are likely to be less spread out in the men's race than a lot of people probably thought. It gives the top three a very good chance of not being overtaken by Roethe or anyone else, unless they implode, not impossible, but the fast conditions will allow guys like Klaebo and Bolshunov to hang around longer. So then it becomes a question of what does Ustiugov do? Does he want to drive the pace from the start to make the group spread out more? Does he just conserve his energy and 'attack' Klaebo later on, as to not blow up? Does he increase the pace at the bottom of the hill? Will the Russians and Norwegians leave a couple guys behind to help tow their leaders? Maybe it's the camera angle, perhaps it's the spectators out on the course, maybe it's just me, but it almost seems as if the hill isn't as brutal as before.
 
Incredible Bolshunov! What a race by him, everyone expected him to fail, but he almost beat Rothe, and only lost 23 seconds to Krueger. Fantastic performance. Congratulations to Sergey and Klaebo as well, it was a great Tour de Ski, as was last year.
 
I never thought Bolshunov could climb this good, it was like watching the skiing equivalent of Miguel Indurain, but its clear that he was in better shape than last season. Ustiugov did a solid climb and was second overall and Klaebo did a Northug like performance and was third. Now the fight for the World Cup is completely wide open between Klaebo and Bolshunov and the Ski Tour with its two long distance races and an individual one can really end up to be Klaebo's doom (although he will have plenty of sprints to try to recover). No surprise that Kruger and Roethe were the two fastest of the day.

In the women's side Johaug did what was expected of her but another great performance by Nepryaeva holding Weng and Oestberg to finish second overall. I wonder what happened to Andersson, maybe she fell ill?
 
Not a fan of this mass start format, especially on a narrow path, where it's virtually impossible to pass. You have the two strongest teams basically roadblocking the final and whoever is in the top 8-10 will have a huge advantage. A handicap pursuit where everyone is for himself from the start, and those that have to catch up can try and do that. This completely took away that element of racing. This just felt really, really weird. I hope FIS and its head man, Pierre Mignerey, take a serious look at the format, take the criticism from the athletes and coaches seriously and make changes for next season. Don't leave this as a mass start, go back to an individual start. Don't give out so many bonus seconds for sprints, diversify the race a bit, replace a mass start with an individual, go back to having a prologue and bring back the Cortina to Toblach 30-35 km skate pursuit. Find a way to put in a 20 km skiathlon. They haven't had one of those in the last two seasons, which is a shame.

Perhaps the initial stadium run and the trail that leads to the Alpe really does fatigue skiers before they hit the climb proper. If you have to ski alone, it's tough to try and make up time, if you are in a group, you can go faster and you are not expending as much energy. That played a role today.

Really wanted Ustiugov to win. He's had a tough last two seasons with injuries and health issues, not beint in the Olympics two years ago, not 100% healthy in Seefeld... He may have gone too early to try and break away, but I didn't expect Bolshunov to hang around that long and then ski away from him.
 
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Ebba Andersson doesn't start today, which is a bit of a pity. She may have been able to challenge Johaug for the stage at least
Swedes are having a shockingly poor season. Andersson, Karlsson and Nilsson have been missing way too many races and big points to be a feature in the overall world cup. All this after the expectations and hype after last season's 4x5 relay victory that now they would come and impress, they are all out of the game. You couldn't make it up.
 
Maybe the Swedes put too much pressure on themselves after the success of last season? Maybe they over did their training. Or maybe they relaxed too much? But Karlsson has a weight issue. I mean you could already see it last year, she's very slight, in a way that Steira was. The Swedes right now have the deepest women's team, especially in sprints. The oldest skier is Kalla. The majority of them are between 20-25. Nilsson is 26. Maybe time will tell. They haven't had the luck in sprints, sure Sundling won in Planica and Svahn in Davos, but a lot of crashes derailing the others. Nilsson is also out due to injury. Maybe with no major championships they are just taking this season less seriously and just want to give the younger skiers more chances and look towards the future.
 
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I think Karlsson may be out indeed due to overtraining, but Nilsson and Andersson seem to have had pure misfortune, e.g injury. Well, I'm not sure about what happened to Nilsson, but Andersson just fell somewhere before the season and that was it.

Norwegian Östberg was also out of competition for a similar reason as Karlsson, so maybe Ingvild's strong performances after the break would be encouraging for Frida then.

Of course from future prospects point of view in the U23 category there are 5 Swedes inside top 6, so that's a statement of potential. But as always, there are dangers with young talent too. That they get overstressed and decline like happened to Per Elofsson.

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Speaking of future prospects, in the men side there are two Frenchman leading the U23 category. But I get the impression that we might get a bit of a gap now after the Kläbo/Bolshunov generation. Spitsov, Yakimushkin and Valnes are also in the same age as these two.

In general it looks like even Norway might start slowing down in terms of talent influx. Of course considering how poorly off the rest of the world is they would still remain a powerhouse. Just that compared to Russian men and Swedish women they could lose some ground once their core currently around the age 30 starts to decline.
 
Ustiugov and Klaebo not looking too happy. Ustiugov was interviewed and said that he was annoyed by Bolshunov hitting his poles from behind with his skis and he turned around and wanted to say something to his teammate but didn't. Also said that he told Bolshunov to take the workload, to share the lead, Bolshunov refused, and then Ustiugov couldn't shake him in the end to get those 14-15 seconds. I wouldn't be too thrilled about that either, whether's a teammate or not.

I thought that Klaebo may survive, somehow, as I watched the women's race. The conditions were very firm and fast and because of the wide tracks and less switchbacks he could hang in longer, but that wasn't the case. His teammates didn't help him. The Russians had a clear plan of dominating the early part of the race and get their top men to the front by the climb so they wouldn't be caught out by an attack. That worked perfectly.

Holund said that he wouldn't help Klaebo in any of the races, and apart from the bonus seconds sprint in Val Di Fiemme, there really wasn't any team tactics from the Norwegians.
 
I'm impressed by Altimiras finishing 8th, he was probably not in a great position at the start of the climb.
Last year I got the feeling that Ustiugov was happy about beating Bolshunov on the final stage after what happened in the classic race the day before.
That said, this year the Russian team really managed to play their cards really well.
Bolshunov will be the big favourite for the Ski Tour in Scandinavia, it's gonna be really hard to beat him on a route like that. IMO Niskanen made a mistake and peaked too early, the Ski Tour has a route that should suit him more. The route isn't great for Klaebo, so it's gonna be interesting who will be the best Norwegian guy, Holund, Røthe, a well rested Iversen or could we even see Sunby back close to his best?
The Italians need De Fabiani to be back at his best, he's someone who could do really well on a route like the one that the Ski Tour offers and Cologna will probably only get better durning the next month or so.
 
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The route isn't great for Klaebo, so it's gonna be interesting who will be the best Norwegian guy, Holund, Røthe, a well rested Iversen or could we even see Sunby back close to his best?
For Norwegians and Swedes Tour de Scandinavia is as big target as Tour de Ski this season, if not even more so. Sundby even specifically sat out TdS to prioritize the February tour. So wouldn't be surprised if somebody impressed there.

However, what has to be mentioned is that while in TdS there were 2 sprints within 7 competitions, in the Ski Tour there are 2 sprints in 6 competitions. Then there is one interval start, two pursuits, and then that long-distance mass-start. It depends really, how big a factor that 38 km race is going to be. And depends on the weather.

In women I'm sure the tour will be decided in that 38 km, because women never ski such long distances other than in Worldloppet and gaps will be huge there. Maybe Johaug will beat competition by minutes? But in men's race it depends, how much the group will stay intact as it's normally harder to break groups in men's races.
 
I could see Klaebo doing a great 50km classic race in a year or 2, if he continues to work with the distance team.
Not If they Race hard. Indern Klaebo is a better Sprinter than Northug. Infact, he is th best Sprinter ever. He is simply an insane fast twiching tpe of guy. That is also the reason why he will never be an elite endurance guy. He simply hast too many fast twiching fibres. However, If Mass Starts are soft pedaled he can win obviously. Unlike Northug he will never be a threat in a 30km individual start, for examle, though.
 
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Halfvarsson started off the season well, as he usually does when he's healthy then he had some issues. He started the tour and had some sort of arm/should problems, but moved up into the top 10. I think he just finished off the top 10, not a disaster. He was in the front end of the race early in the climb but then just mentally gave up, as he had nothing to ski for. That would be my guess. Maybe he just didn't have it physically.

Manificat has strangely had a poor season, apart from the Davos 15km, a race he usually does very well in. For him to be that far behind on the Alpe, where's often challenged for the top 10 in both climbing time and overall, it's mysterious. Don't know what's happened to him this season. Overtraining? Maybe less enthusiasm without a major championship this season.

Musgrave trained for the visma classics this season. I think he wasn't ready for the TDS. Had a good stage in the Toblach 15km skate. That's about it. We'll see what he does with the long distance races.
 
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Manificat I suspect is getting past his prime like Cologna. They are both 33 I think.

What concerns Musgrave, he is indeed having a poor season in the world cup. Would have expected more.
 
Ustiugov and Klaebo not looking too happy. Ustiugov was interviewed and said that he was annoyed by Bolshunov hitting his poles from behind with his skis and he turned around and wanted to say something to his teammate but didn't. Also said that he told Bolshunov to take the workload, to share the lead, Bolshunov refused, and then Ustiugov couldn't shake him in the end to get those 14-15 seconds. I wouldn't be too thrilled about that either, whether's a teammate or not.

I thought that Klaebo may survive, somehow, as I watched the women's race. The conditions were very firm and fast and because of the wide tracks and less switchbacks he could hang in longer, but that wasn't the case. His teammates didn't help him. The Russians had a clear plan of dominating the early part of the race and get their top men to the front by the climb so they wouldn't be caught out by an attack. That worked perfectly.

Holund said that he wouldn't help Klaebo in any of the races, and apart from the bonus seconds sprint in Val Di Fiemme, there really wasn't any team tactics from the Norwegians.
We must not forget that they are not really teammates. The Russians have different training gropus who are in fierce competition with each other. So it does not come as a suprise that they do not really cooperate. I think all in all they benifit of that competitive environment, though.
The idea of team tactics in individual races is a bit strange anyway. This is not cycling were they are all getting paid by their teamsports. It is an individual sport and in my opinion the relay is the only time there should be team tactics. In all the other racers everyone should race for his own success. No matter the nation.
 
For Norwegians and Swedes Tour de Scandinavia is as big target as Tour de Ski this season, if not even more so. Sundby even specifically sat out TdS to prioritize the February tour. So wouldn't be surprised if somebody impressed there.

However, what has to be mentioned is that while in TdS there were 2 sprints within 7 competitions, in the Ski Tour there are 2 sprints in 6 competitions. Then there is one interval start, two pursuits, and then that long-distance mass-start. It depends really, how big a factor that 38 km race is going to be. And depends on the weather.

In women I'm sure the tour will be decided in that 38 km, because women never ski such long distances other than in Worldloppet and gaps will be huge there. Maybe Johaug will beat competition by minutes? But in men's race it depends, how much the group will stay intact as it's normally harder to break groups in men's races.
Will the Ski Tour have the same bonus seconds system as the Tour de Ski?
 
Klaebo must be really worried about the Overall World Cup, he decided to go to Dresden. That is very very rare, I can't remember if any skier from the Tour de Ski podium ever went there after the Tour. However, considering that the next Sprint race after Dresden is on January 26th, and that there are no Sprints in Nove Mesto on the weekend after the Dresden one, he might miss that weekend.
 
Klaebo must be really worried about the Overall World Cup, he decided to go to Dresden. That is very very rare, I can't remember if any skier from the Tour de Ski podium ever went there after the Tour. However, considering that the next Sprint race after Dresden is on January 26th, and that there are no Sprints in Nove Mesto on the weekend after the Dresden one, he might miss that weekend.
He is right to be worried, Bolshunov is 75 points ahead of him in the overall and he will likely lose more during the Scandinavian Tour plus there is a 30km interval and the Holmenkollen 50km in which he will lose even more so he really needs to fight for every sprint and hope Bolshunov's shape drops.
 
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