Nordic Skiing/Biathlon Thread

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Yeah, Röiseland and Wierer are clearly the two best women of the championship. Röiseland was nowhere to be seen during the middle of the race. Her sudden emergence at the front was thus not too dissimilar to Dominik Windisch a year ago! Öberg finally got that elusive medal, while Hojnisz capped off Polish impressive relay effort with another strong performance.
 
It's also what S/Koukalová used to do. The Mass Start is a format where, above anything else, standing shooting and a strong final lap are prized. It's better to get your misses out of the way in prone and ski your own race; also the men's mass start used to be all about a slow speed that slowly ratcheted up, and the women's race seems to be going a similar direction looking at how Öberg, Herrmann, Wierer and others who missed 1 target were able to ski back to the front group on the second lap, whereas if you get your misses in during standing then not only are you more tired when you're making those errors, but the rest of the field is going faster too. Røiseland hit the errors early but didn't panic, and when the pressure hit the others at the front, she cleaned up 10/10 shots in standing, and left herself with still some work to do, but was close enough that she could chase down Wierer. She was stronger on the first half of the course with most of the climbing (reducing the gap from 14 seconds to 6) and also had clearly better skis on the downhill section which gave her the chance to make contact before the final split, giving her the short uphill under the bridge to get a gap before the stadium rather than leaving it to chance in the sprint.

At least Hanna Störmer Steira got a bronze. Would have been really rough for her to leave empty handed after 4th in the pursuit, 4th in the Individual, 4th in the single mixed and 5th in the relay (especially with it being her fault they missed the medal in the relay yesterday).
 
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Yeah, that's a good overview. During the race I genuinely thought that Röiseland was tired after all those races in the WCH, because after all she had fewer misses than Wierer. But I guess it was her energy distribution, and she had far more left in the tank for final laps than anybody else.

In other news, Loginov doesn't start in men's mass-start.
 
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Before the last lap I was pretty sure Roiseland is going to win this. I thought Wierer was tired. She was flying over the course in the first 4 laps and especially in lap 2. Wierer and Roiseland were together after Shooting 1 . Yet by shooting 2 Wierer had 14 seconds.
Seems like Roiseland had a smarter race today
 
And they actually accused the snowmobiles of giving Bolshunov the draft in the mass start a few days ago. Bolshunov and the rest of the Russians have awful skis, it would have been difficult for him regardless, but ridiculous home cooking. Also in the sprint, when Valnes admitted he let Golberg go ahead at the finish to ensure he got more seconds. Look at the top 10, 8 Norwegians. If climate change doesn’t kill this sport, Norwegian hegemony most certainly will.

A shame that Bolshunov will lose the tour like this and will now have pressure the rest of the way for the overall World Cup.
 
Jul 24, 2015
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Russians should have known that rub-skis would be the safe option. When they go for something different they are taking a huge risk. They can only blame themselves for their misfortune
 
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Russians should have known that rub-skis would be the safe option. When they go for something different they are taking a huge risk. They can only blame themselves for their misfortune
Having a bad day like that comes at the worst possible time for Bolshunov. It's not just one race out of the window, but losing lots of points in tour overall too. However, his advantage in overall world cup is so huge that it doesn't make much difference any more.

Tour de Norway indeed.
1,2,3,5 in women.
1,2,3,4,5,6 in men.
 
When it's close to zero degrees, wet snow falling, the Russians are notorious for botching the ski preparation. You could see right away the Bolshunov was struggling. They showed Yakimushkin and Spitsov literally stopping at the top of one of the hills. Yakimushkin looked behind him and raised his hands. Don't know if that was just a general look/expression of disgust or back to the team and servicemen.

I think it would have been a fascinating battle for the win today. I do think, given that both were in shape, but that it was a longer pursuit that Bolshunov would hold on and win. Golberg is in the form of his life at almost 30 years of age.

If I were Bolshunov I would not want to look at a serviceman for a while. That said, the athletes are not without blame. You can go back to the tent or truck and tell them that your skis are not working so they have time to prepare a new pair before the race actually starts. Also, it was snowing already partway through the women's race and the forecast clearly showed snow throughout. Why they wouldn't go with waxless skis is beyond me. Yes they are slower, but you'd much rather get good kick on a tough course in a 30km.

I guess one positive is that Klaebo didn't get on the podium and Bolshunov was just one place behind him in the tour, so that was very good news for the Russian and his bid for the overall. He lost points, yes, and had he won today the overall would have been as good as wrapped up. His advantage in the distance cup is also intact so that wasn't a disaster, but to lose the tour on the last day because of bad skis is...well...bad.
 
Well nothing new here. Norwegians in XC skiing are the worst when it comes to unsportsmanship behavior. So as disgusting as it was, nothing to be surprised. That is just what they are like.
Anyway, did not matter in the end. Russians totally blew it today with their skies.
 
Johannes Boe finally wins his individual gold with a perfect race. The French were the strongest again with all the team until Fourcade's 7th place.

Regarding the cross-country what a shame what happened to Bolshunov but at least the other Norwegians didn't let Klaebo get second so the World Cup is sealed in normal circunstances.
 
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JT.Bö seems to have been getting gradually stronger during the championship. Fillon Maillet seems to often end up second, and so again today.

For a change Austria took over from Germany as the third best country with Leitner in 6th and Eberhard 9th.

Overall Norway won half of the biathlon WCH golds (6/12). So a pretty strong representation. All in all 10 countries won a medal. We didn't get a surprise champion this time, although twice it was close (Dunklee and Hinz).
 
Having a bad day like that comes at the worst possible time for Bolshunov. It's not just one race out of the window, but losing lots of points in tour overall too. However, his advantage in overall world cup is so huge that it doesn't make much difference any more.

Tour de Norway indeed.
1,2,3,5 in women.
1,2,3,4,5,6 in men.
He only lost 12 points to Klaebo today. In the overall tour Klaebo got 120 for 6th place and Bolshunov 108 for 7th. I think it's safe to say that those behind Klaebo in the overall WC won't be challenging Bolshunov.

There were reports suggesting that had Bolshunov gotten enough of a lead prior to the WC races in North America he wouldn't travel overseas. I am curious to find out what he'll do if mathematically he has the overall WC wrapped up by then. With two more distance races before North America, he will clinch the distance globe. He would need to keep racing well in Europe if he were to decide to not go overseas. How many points are awarded in the sprint tour in N. America? Is it 50 per win or 100 and how much for the skier that wins that tour?

Back in 2017 Sundby and Ustiugov didn't race in Canada for the WC finals and still ended up 1st and 2nd.

The women's race was never going to be in doubt unless Johaug's skis were as bad as Bolshunov's.

It's not great viewing when the top skiers have a huge advantage. The tv rarely shows those outside the top 5. But FIS reaps what they sow and they may regret these types of formats.
 
Jul 24, 2015
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Well nothing new here. Norwegians in XC skiing are the worst when it comes to unsportsmanship behavior. So as disgusting as it was, nothing to be surprised. That is just what they are like.
Anyway, did not matter in the end. Russians totally blew it today with their skies.
Can't really see any unsportmanship behaviour in this race. Golberg also said afterwords that he would have prefered to have had a more fair fight. But ski-prep is part of the game. Especially in difficult conditions. Bolshunov lost the most in the downhill streches and couldn't keep up with the group behind Golberg so I don't think it would have mattered much if he was given even more service by the ski patrol that kept the tracks clean.
 
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There has been some talk about fluoride ban in ski waxing. But to 'even things out' a bit in XC I think the way to go could be some kind of a ban on waxing altogether or that FIS distributes spec waxes to all teams, from which they choose based on weather (which you could still choose wrongly, mind you). What do you think?

In a situation in which Norway has many times bigger ski budget than all other nations, there is really no sustainable way to go forward if we were to have actual international competition. The best you can do is to make things cheaper and a bit more bearable to smaller teams. How about spec equipment, so that it wouldn't be much of a differentiator?
 
The Swedes have had trouble with waxing as well recently. Andersson was visibly struggling to hold on to Oestberg and Weng the other day. Anytime I opened Swedish reports on the races there was always something about waxing Mind you, it wasn't as obviously bad as it was for the Russians today, but for it to be happening so often for a team like Sweden is worrisome.

Yes the Norwegians have a huge budget. They also have the biggest fleet of skis, the most technicians and the most testers, and they were on home snow, so it's no surprise to see them nailing the wax and skis. The Russians, from what I read, thought that the snowfall would last for only 15 min and it wouldn't be significant, well it lasted for an hour or so and it really caused havoc for them. It happens. I am glad Holund and Krüger went for it on the last lap and dropped Klaebo, and that Iversen and Nyenget outsprinted Klaebo at the finish, those could be valuable points that didn't go Klaebo's way. If nothing else, Bolshunov did catch a break in that regard.
 
Jul 24, 2015
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There has been some talk about fluoride ban in ski waxing. But to 'even things out' a bit in XC I think the way to go could be some kind of a ban on waxing altogether or that FIS distributes spec waxes to all teams, from which they choose based on weather (which you could still choose wrongly, mind you). What do you think?

In a situation in which Norway has many times bigger ski budget than all other nations, there is really no sustainable way to go forward if we were to have actual international competition. The best you can do is to make things cheaper and a bit more bearable to smaller teams. How about spec equipment, so that it wouldn't be much of a differentiator?
The sad fact is that if Norway could start 30 they would all be among the 40 best. FIS have tried a lot of stuff that will limit Norwegian dominance and it has always failed, because Norway will always be good at adapting to new regulations, whatever they may be. Rather than focusing on limiting Norways chances the focus should be on improving other nations abilities to catch up.
 
The Swedes have had trouble with waxing as well recently. Andersson was visibly struggling to hold on to Oestberg and Weng the other day. Anytime I opened Swedish reports on the races there was always something about waxing Mind you, it wasn't as obviously bad as it was for the Russians today, but for it to be happening so often for a team like Sweden is worrisome.
Are you kidding? Sweden completely botching the wax preparation is a running gag in XC skiing a few years back, it's more worrisome that they'd gone this long without putting more fuel on that fire.
 
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Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the art/science of waxing skis properly.

The art/science of it is is that it is highly unpredictable - it all depends on the very unpredictable weather. Sometimes the techs get it right, and sometimes they get it woefully wrong. (Much like you weather forecaster person would.)

And that's all I've got to say about that.
 
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Rather than focusing on limiting Norways chances the focus should be on improving other nations abilities to catch up.
There is not much chance to improve the chances of other nations, because the public interest and money simply isn't there. And by the looks of things won't be either. The best you can do is to make some things cheaper/more affordable and re-consider resource/money distribution. Personally I think having fewer races wouldn't hurt either. It seems smaller teams are struggling with them, which is why they skip events too. There doesn't necessarily need to be races in every weekend. In a situation in which there are about 40 races in a season it devalues the importance of one single race. And in a situation in which public interest is dwindling anyway, it's ever-harder to keep people interested in all that.
 
That's why I think it's pointless to try and just have mass starts and short races, almost no skiathlons and relays. If you see that you aren't drawing in as many new fans as you had hoped for, then you should rethink your strategy and stop antagonizing and pushing away traditional/old fans of the sport. If you start losing those, then you are in serious trouble. That part heavily falls on Mignerey and FIS.

The performances of non Norwegian/Russian teams and individuals has many possibilities, as zarnack said, funding and public interest are huge. Climate change, travel expenses and simply other sports being more popular is something else that hinders progress of xc skiing in the rest of Europe and elsewhere. Now, I don't think xc skiing will ever become much more than a 'fringe' sport in North America. It hasn't in all the decades it's been around, even when winters were good, even when the American men were doing really well in the 70's and 80's with the likes of Bill Koch, and in recent years the American women with Diggins and Randall. If it is improving, it's improving very, very slowly that it's hardly noticeable. There are good organizations like Fast and Female, which was founded by Canadian Chandra Crawford, which can be found at various post race events around North America, but how big of an impact is that and is it short term or is it long term?

French biathlon is at an all time high, it seems, while French cross country is barely relevant with only Chanavat and occasionally another sprinter or distance skier like Manificat (predominantly in skate) making headlines.

In Italy it's pretty much only Pellegrino flying the flag, and he, like everyone else, has been mostly shut out of the medals by Klaebo and the Norwegians.

The Swedish women can and have challenged the Norwegians, particularly in sprints. The men? Not so much. They just don't have the quality or depth. Their old stars are either retired or are past it. Rickardsson is almost 38. I don't see why he is still racing. Yes he can make the team, because he is better than most of the youngsters, but it's a bit embarrassing for them that they can't find anyone else. Halfvarsson is more sick or injured than actually racing. Burman is the only constant one, but he rarely gets into the top 10, and a podium seems so far away.

The American women can challenge and have a nice group of U23 and U20 racers coming up, so I think they will be ok, but will they improve their classic skiing and races over 10km? Their strength is primarily in sprints and short to middle distance skate races. The men right now are not doing well, but they have U20 men coming up that could fight more regularly in the top 30. Time will tell.

The Russians are the only team that can seriously challenge the Norwegians, at least in the men's races. Bolshunov, Ustiugov, Spitsov, Yakimushkin, Belov, Retyvikh, etc...they have the talent and the depth. Just have to get their tactics and ski preparation right Their women's team is being bailed by Nepryaeva's consistency. Just a real pity she got sick just before the ski tour and was unable to continue after Ostersund. They are missing Belorukova, Sedova and Soboleva (all due to pregnancy), while U23's like Istomina (injured), Durkina (poor form, perhaps overtraining), Zherebyateva (see Durkina) missing in action have hurt Russian chances for good results in the women's division. If they get all these skiers back for next year, and are healthy then I think they'll have a strong team.

It is depressing to see one country dominate so much. Having the top 6 and 8 men in the top 11 of a tour is not good for the sport going forward. The women's division sees 'only' 5 Norwegians in the top 10, but the top skier is way ahead of anyone else.
So it's like what came first, the chicken or the egg? Does Norway's funding, resources, manpower that gives them dominance demoralize everyone else, or does everyone else's lack of funding, resources and manpower demoralize them that they either can't perform well enough and/or simply can't field skiers which makes the fields weaker which enables Norwegian dominance?
 
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