Nordic Skiing/Biathlon Thread

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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.
Yes and I think those groups only see each other when there is a joint testing week in September. Then it's sometimes for the pre-world cup warmup races and of course they race the world cups/world champs/olympics, but even then, you can see that those groups don't really travel together, just stay at the same hotel, as part of the national team.

Ustiugov was diplomatic and seemed content that they went 1-2, but he was also disappointed that he couldn't shake Bolshunov. Last year Bolshunov was part of the Russian led group that skied away from Ustiugov in the Val di Fiemme 15km, and he lost the tour that day. He had too much to overcome on the final day. I am sure that looms in his head as well.
 
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A flat sprint coming up, meh.

Team sprint will be especially pointless. Despite 5 exchanges they will start skiing only in the last 300 meters, or so.

Generally the main question is how much of an advantage will rested sprinters have over those, who completed Tour de Ski. It may be one of the best chances of the season for opposition to beat Kläbo.
 
I think that Klaebo is make a mistake by racing in Dresden, but he is probably going all in for the overall WC. By not resting enough after the Tour de Ski he could end up being cooked after the Scandinavian Tour.
Being fresher durning the end of the season is pretty much the only chance he has when it comes to winning the overall WC.
 
I think that Klaebo is make a mistake by racing in Dresden
he withdrew a couple of days ago due to a "sore throat"


also Valnes and Sundling cancelled their participations (from the potential podium contenders)
 
he withdrew a couple of days ago due to a "sore throat"


also Valnes and Sundling cancelled their participations (from the potential podium contenders)
Thanks, I totally missed that. Yes, he made the right call.
 
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Well yeah, illnesses taking out competitors after the tough Tour de Ski. Not the first time I guess. I wonder if Svahn could win the sprint cup already this year? She hasn't participated in tours and thus should be well-rested.

Regarding biathlon relays I guess no surprises in women's relay this time. Norway, Sweden and France have all-round strong teams. Germany lacks depth these days and hence 4th. Switzerland is still going strong (5th), but that's not a surprise any more.

Men's relay was really topsy-turvy with Belarus leading for a while, but still the top 3 countries (Norway, France, Germany) prevailed in the end. This is the relay France really should have won given that Norway was missing the brothers. But once again someone threw it away, this time Jacquelin.
 
They altered the Dresden sprint a bit, and believe it or not, made it even more boring. At least there was that slight lincline just before the little drop to the finish. The only thing that this course has is two left handed bends. One on the far side of the course and the other is at the finish line, where they have to make a turn to ski the 2nd lap.

I sincerely hope they cancel this sprint for the future. In my opinion it's a joke. How many people were in the stands? No more than last year and less than two years ago. They are actually charging the spectators who want to watch from the stands. That's laughable. Also seeing the 'VIP' building just above the start area. I watched a bit of the 'super sprints' yesterday and it was boring, to be honest. Most of the racers are not even on the WC circuit. I know there's been a separate competition

It's staged right after the TDS, the top three not here, Pellegrino taken out by the a Frenchman in the quarterfinal, Falla misses out on the final, no Nilsson, no Sundling, only two Americans, the Germans didn't have anyone on the men's side qualifying, only of their women qualifying.

This WC weekend is really illuminating for the future of xc skiing, I feel.
 
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They altered the Dresden sprint a bit, and believe it or not, made it even more boring. At least there was that slight lincline just before the little drop to the finish. The only thing that this course has is two left handed bends. One on the far side of the course and the other is at the finish line, where they have to make a turn to ski the 2nd lap.

I sincerely hope they cancel this sprint for the future. In my opinion it's a joke. How many people were in the stands? No more than last year and less than two years ago. They are actually charging the spectators who want to watch from the stands. That's laughable. Also seeing the 'VIP' building just above the start area. I watched a bit of the 'super sprints' yesterday and it was boring, to be honest. Most of the racers are not even on the WC circuit. I know there's been a separate competition

It's staged right after the TDS, the top three not here, Pellegrino taken out by the a Frenchman in the quarterfinal, Falla misses out on the final, no Nilsson, no Sundling, only two Americans, the Germans didn't have anyone on the men's side qualifying, only of their women qualifying.

This WC weekend is really illuminating for the future of xc skiing, I feel.
Well, the biggest item of sheer boneheaded idiocy about it - and there are many - is that they schedule an XC sprint and team sprint, which is sparsely attended by the top names owing to its proximity to the Tour de Ski, in a direct head to head with Oberhof, which is just down the road, features much more prominent German athletes and is in a sport which attracts much more attention in Germany anyway. It's almost set up to fail, because Oberhof is only slightly less accessible (the roads leading to it aren't major nodal roads and Dresden has the benefit of being within a city, but it is more central which makes it more accessible to most across central and western Germany), and if you weren't sure which woud provide more entertainment, XC or biathlon, then this entirely featureless and boring course would not make any reasonable case in favour of XC, even when not faced up against relays in Oberhof, which are almost the biggest guarantors of entertainment on the biathlon circuit owing to the complex course and unpredictable range conditions. You can guarantee that a large percentage of the German XC audience is made up of people who also watch biathlon, and the number of people who follow XC skiing but NOT biathlon in Germany are few in number, and not enough to sustain an event in and of themselves without additional casual interest.

The Dresden sprint wouldn't necessarily be such a failure if placed elsewhere in the calendar. It would never be 'good' so to speak with such a limited set of obstacles and terrain to work with, but placing it head to head with the German biathlon rounds is just setting it up to fail, and if the fans won't even go to the sport when the sport literally goes to them by moving the event into a city centre, then just nuke it. The round after the TDS is always sparsely attended, but I find it hard to believe they couldn't get a better crowd from Otepää or Planica or Nové Město or other places they've been recently in this spot, and then do a German round at somewhere that cares about XC skiing and doesn't already have the biathlon World Cup like Oberstdorf, Mauth-Finsterau or Oberwiesenthal in a different calendar slot where it's not going head to head with higher audience share sports.
 
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Well, FIS is desperate for German audience and organize a sprint in a city to bring it close to people. It's a bit like the Düsseldorf sprint used to be in late October or something. I agree from sporting point of view Dresden shouldn't be on calendar, but what can you do. Marketing considerations rule here. Even though the irony is that Germans don't care much for XC, especially now that all their top athletes are long gone.

In terms of XC in Germany I think they should just concentrate on having races in Oberstdorf and be done with it.

What concerns 100m sprint, then I really can't see, how this is interesting or even would attract crowds, so I don't really know, why would FIS push for that.
 
Marketing considerations should then dictate that if they want to do Dresden, they at least don't do it the same weekend as Oberhof.

Now, the same weekend as Ruhpolding? Less ridiculous. It's at the other end of the country, so you can get those people who like XC skiing but for whom Ruhpolding is too much of a trek. Oberhof is just down the road and biathlon is a much, much, much bigger draw in that part of the world.
 
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A statistical note too. Norway has won 16 out of 24 biathlon World Cup competitions so far this season, so that's a good 2/3.

For comparison. In XC world cup this has been 23 wins out of 37 if I got my numbers right, so pretty much in the same ballpark in terms of %.

So Norway has established quite a stranglehold on biathlon as well. However, naturally biathlon feels more open and you can never be sure in the winner before the last range. And of course from 2nd position onwards there is a lot more variety.

In the biathlon world cup overall top 30 there are 13 nations (men) and 14 nations (women) represented. In XC these numbers are 8 (men) and 10 (women).
 
Also, why did FIS scrap the 35km pursuit in Tour de Ski? I know endurance is generally not favoured by sports for some reason but still.
For a few years there wasn't enough snow in Toblach, but no idea why it was canceled in the end. Probably Sunby being so dominant had an influence, they started to water down the distance races in the Tour de Ski to make it a bit more competitive.
 
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FIS is really shooting itself in the foot. I've been saying that for years. There's way too many sprints. There were too many sprints even before Klaebo got on tour. The Dresden races were again poorly attended. There stands were not filled and most of the people on the course were coaches and staff.

This being right after the TDS and at the same time as the Oberhof biathlon races, it was always going to suffer. It's terrible planning on FIS's part. I know they have to cater to the TV and the TV companies know that Biathlon is more popular. They make it so the xc races finish before the Biathlon races, so there's no conflict, but what are the actual viewing figures for both sports?

What FIS should do starting next season is to move the Dresden races to another date, or scrap it altogether. I agree with those who say that having only one weekend in Germany is good enough. Oberstdorf has struggled with snow conditions in recent years, so maybe think of another venue? They can go to Schonach (world juniors and nordic combined world cups were held there before) or Hinterzarten in the Black Forest. They can host races in Garmisch (they held sprint world cups before), or Altenberg (not far from Oberhof). Ruhpolding may be out of the question as they host the Biathlon races every year, so having two big events so close to each other may overwhelm the organizing committee, but could still work. I just don't see how forcing these city sprints will magically make people turn on their TV's and watch cross country skiing. The biggest crowds have been in traditional venues, in smaller towns like Ulricehamn.

Another thing that has really hurt the sport of xc is that skiers from non-traditional xc countries like Kowalczyk from Poland, Veerpalu, Smigun and Mae from Estonia, retired and the need to have races there has gone with them. Otepaa has held the world cup even after the retirements, but as we saw last year, the fan support just isn't there, it looked sad, to be honest. The tracks there are tough, but well prepared and when the top Estonians raced, the course was lined with fans and the stands filled. Likewise in Sczlarska Poreba when Kowalczyk was the top skier in the world. They had races there in 2012 and 2014, but scrapped them after that. I also think due to some organizational issues and TV coverage from Polish TV FIS moved on. Regardless, Justyna's departure certainly played a role.

This year the world cup returns to the US after 19 years (18, if you count the 2002 Olympics). Having the races in Minneapolis, not far from Afton, where Diggins is from, FIS is thinking of expanding their market to the US. They see how generally competitive the US women are so why not have some races in the states? I am interested to see how many people show up. I think there may be a healthy number of spectators. But what will happen when the US women stop being competitive? Will they still hold races in the US? Also interesting to see if they'll have races in North America during Championship seasons. If they do, it'll likely be at the end of the season, as was the case in 2017 and 2019 in Quebec.
 
For a few years there wasn't enough snow in Toblach, but no idea why it was canceled in the end. Probably Sunby being so dominant had an influence, they started to water down the distance races in the Tour de Ski to make it a bit more competitive.
The prologue was also cancelled. It was always present, except 2014 when they didn't have enough snow in Oberhof.

There was sometimes a skiathlon race (last time was in 2017, 20km), sometime there was a 5 km classic (sometimes 10 km). In 2016 they had a 30km classic mass start in Lenzerheide.

FIS made a lot of changes, and not for the best. They tried everything to make the calendar as favorable as they could for Klaebo. Just look at the sheer number of sprints and the monotonous 15km's. The saving grace is the ski tour in Scandinavia next month and the 50km in Oslo.
 
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So, is Johannes Boe really willing to 'gift' the World Cup overall to Martin Fourcade?

Regarding the World Cup cross-country, I think the route is quite better than last season with six 30km or more races, the only ridiculous thing is that sprint Tour in the United States (they could have brought back a 3 or 4km prologue but not even that) but it won't be enough to stop Bolshunov winning the World Cup if he keeps his TDF shape.
 
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So, is Johannes Boe really willing to 'gift' the World Cup overall to Martin Fourcade?

Regarding the World Cup cross-country, I think the route is quite better than last season with six 30km or more races, the only ridiculous thing is that sprint Tour in the United States (they could have brought back a 3 or 4km prologue but not even that) but it won't be enough to stop Bolshunov winning the World Cup if he keeps his TDF shape.
Isn't it interesting that Fourcade appears to be as impressive as ever now that Johannes is missing. Just last year he had trouble keeping up with his own team-mates.

Let's see if this rejuvenation is temporary or has more longevity.

What concerns sprints vs distances in XC I have to say that by and large the specialization is quite different. It's a bit like in alpine skiing that slalom specialists are different to downhill.

The likes of Chanavat, Pellegrino, Svahn and Falla would never ever have any chances to compete at the front in the distance tours. So in sprinters defence I have to say it's fair enough if you give them some kind of a carrot to compete for as well (hence the sprint tour).
 
Isn't it interesting that Fourcade appears to be as impressive as ever now that Johannes is missing. Just last year he had trouble keeping up with his own team-mates.

Let's see if this rejuvenation is temporary or has more longevity.

What concerns sprints vs distances in XC I have to say that by and large the specialization is quite different. It's a bit like in alpine skiing that slalom specialists are different to downhill.

The likes of Chanavat, Pellegrino, Svahn and Falla would never ever have any chances to compete at the front in the distance tours. So in sprinters defence I have to say it's fair enough if you give them some kind of a carrot to compete for as well (hence the sprint tour).
In fairness, Martin probably can't be superhuman all season long now, and seeing as it was known pre-season that Johannes would skip a while in January because of family reasons, he has probably targeted these races as the best chance for him to go for another crystal globe, as well as some much-needed confidence heading into the World Championships. He also has a higher win likelihood in races without Johannes, so if he IS legitimately targeting OEB's records, he needs to fill his boots here.
 
Also, why did FIS scrap the 35km pursuit in Tour de Ski? I know endurance is generally not favoured by sports for some reason but still.
For a few years there wasn't enough snow in Toblach, but no idea why it was canceled in the end. Probably Sunby being so dominant had an influence, they started to water down the distance races in the Tour de Ski to make it a bit more competitive.
There is also a discourse that the tour is too taxing as it is, so making it shorter is beneficial. It is essentially a long intensity block. A lot of skiers quit. Then there has been an observation in a Norwegian study that while many female skiers got supercompensation out of the tour, many men get sick afterwards (the risk increased threefold). Another finding of the study was that when the TDS is in the same year as Worlds or Olympics, the performance levels of TDS athletes are diminished in these prioriy races. The data were collected in a year that the long stage was included in the TDS. So, clearly there is a risk involved that quite likely grows with additional volume of racing (men vs women), though generally women can handle higher relative intensities a bit better than men as I understand it.

Less formally, some physiologists also compare TDS to cycling GTs and argue (incorrectly, IMHO) that since the avg heart rate in the former is close to 90% and close to 65-70% in the latter, the TDS is just much more taxing relatively speaking. Sure TDS is taxing. But this argument overlooks the fact that GT stages being 4+hrs long on avg may well contain just as much intensity in absolute terms even if the added volume brings the avg intensity and relative down. The most absolute intensity this TDS contained per day was ca. 33min (men 15k). Many GT climbs are as long or longer. So, it is not very illuminating to simply argue in relative terms, when in absolute terms adding GT stage volume to the intensity included in them does not exactly make days easier. And yes, not every GT stage is necessarily a very taxing one, but practically every one of them is going to contain some intensity close to the upper threshold (LT2) and definitely above the lower threshold (LT1) especially for GC riders. Think finales in addition to key stages and TTs. And there are 21 of them. IMHO the comparison is just silly. The sports are different and most skiers do not train in order to become stage racers.

Also I am against shortening the TDS. The Cortina-Toblach was very good. I would ditch the Alpe Cermis though. Find another long and large hill, which is actually skiable (15%-ish), climb it a couple times over in a 35-50k stage, make a "mountain stage" out of it.
 
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To be fair, in women's biathlon relay top 7 teams finished within 1 minute, so clearly competition there is close enough with numerous countries in the mix for podiums at least.

And interestingly generally the variety of countries in women's biathlon is greater at the front than in men. In the latter a handful of nations have pretty much established a strangehold. Among men in individual races athletes from only 4 countries (NOR, FRA, GER, RUS) have finished on the podium so far this season, while in women it has been from 10 nations! Also in the overall world cup top 10 there are 4 countries represented in men, while in women's top 10 there are 7. I don't really know, why is that so.

I think it's a bit of a coincidence things have been working out so perfectly for Norway so far. Others are within a chance and it takes one additional poor range for Norway not to win. It helps that so far Eckhoff and Röiseland have delivered every time there is a relay. Well, let's see about men's relay. Norway starts out without the younger Bö brother again.
 
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