Nordic Skiing/Biathlon Thread

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Swedish team has made a U-turn. Neither their sprinters nor distance skiers are going to compete in North American races. Surely this is going to mean the season is finished now?
 
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The entire remaining cross-country season has been cancelled, so that's it then. What a sad way to end the season. But at least the final races were proper marathons in Holmenkollen, so not exactly a bad way to go out.

So all in all the best distance skiers of the season (Johaug and Bolshunov) have won the overall cup convincingly.

This means sprint cups are settled too, with them going to Kläbo, as expected, and Svahn, as a surprise based on pre-season expectations.

20-y-o Linn Svahn is the "find" of the season I'd say. However, we need to see her going head-to-head with Stina Nilsson to settle the matter of who is the best sprinter in the world. But that could possibly happen only in next season.
 
looks like Biathlon will continue though, and with the 3rd place today, Eckhoff is now in the good position to win the World Cup.

If I didn't make any mistakes, this is where she would need to end up (compared to Wierer), to get ahead of her in the points standings.

Eckhoff 01. 815 - 811 03. Wierer
Eckhoff 02. 809 - 806 04. Wierer
Eckhoff 03. 803 - 803 05. Wierer
Eckhoff 04. 798 - 797 08. Wierer
Eckhoff 05. 795 - 795 09. Wierer
Eckhoff 06. 793 - 793 11. Wierer
Eckhoff 07. 791 - 791 13. Wierer
Eckhoff 08. 789 - 789 15. Wierer
Eckhoff 09. 787 - 787 17. Wierer
Eckhoff 10. 786 - 786 18. Wierer
Eckhoff 11. 785 - 785 19. Wierer
Eckhoff 12. 784 - 784 20. Wierer
Eckhoff 13. 783 - 783 21. Wierer
Eckhoff 14. 782 - 782 22. Wierer
Eckhoff 15. 781 - 781 23. Wierer

(I didn't double check the rules, but I guess "more wins" is the tie-breaker in case of a draw, isn't it?!)
 
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Really surprised by Fourcade's decision. Despite not being on the same level as JTB anymore, he is still the second best biathlete in the world and he would likely held a high level until the 2022 Olympics where he could target Bjorndalen's record of 8 gold medals and 13 medals overall and also his record of World Cup races wins but I guess he probably doesn't have the drive anymore.

Regarding this World Cup, sad to see the Holmenkollen races cancelled, all will be decided in Kontiolahti's pursuits and given the Johannes Boe is only 10 points behind Fourcade before the two worse results are taken, only a disaster would made him lose the World Cup.

In the women's, after Wierer's bad day, Eckhoff is only 8 points behind her, with the 2 worst results already taken away from Wierer's classification, so tomorrow the end could be dramatic.
 
It's been on the horizon for a little while but I'm still shocked. Could have tried for OEB's records. Don't see anyone stopping JTB from becoming the GOAT now.

Also, missed posting during Kollen: holy moly I loved that women's race.
 
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Bö almost blew it, but finished 4th, which is just about what he needed for the crystal globe. Fourcade bows out with a victory. Well, impressive season by both actually. Bö wins the overall despite missing 4 races. Fourcade bounced back after the poor 2018-19 season showing he can still be a threat even though doesn't match JTB any more.

Women's race was really topsy-turvy. In the end first victory for Simon and Selina Gasparin on podium. Eckhoff blew it in the final shooting, so Wierer wins the overall again.

So the winter season is over now, nothing else happening any more. Long wait till November, when it should start again. Although things are changing rapidly in the world these days, so who knows, what will be happening then. So good luck everybody. :)
 
I know Norwegians are not exactly the most likeable caracters in biathlon but Eckhoff deserved the World cup win.

She was better than Wierer in almost every race, achieving many wins, but due to biathlon's points system that favours consistency too much Wierer was able to stay close and then in the World Championships she got a big advantage that end up being enough after Holmenkollen was cancelled. Today Eckhoff was just too slow and erratic in the shooting range but it must suck nonethless.

Great way for Fourcade to retire, again showing how strong mentally he is and Johannes Boe showed again that he sometimes crumbles under pressure but ended up being enough to win his second World Cup. Fillon Maillet and Jacquelin will be his major rivals in the future, great race from both.

I wish we are able to watch a normal wintersports racing calendar next season but I am not optimistic.
 
Idunno, Eckhoff and Tandrevold are really likable characters, I find. The men I can take or leave, other than Johannes who strikes me as an annoying goof, and Røiseland I've never taken to (plus I'm starting to resent Solemdal just because her palmarès for the last few years consists entirely of charity case relay legs where, often, they've omitted a younger, more interesting talent to put her in).

Personally I love the consistency-based points system, because it's generally kept things close. Remember, Martin Fourcade and Dorothea Wierer were wearing the yellow bibs today, so if they didn't remove the two worst scores, they would be the champions - yet in 'real' terms Johannes Thingnes Bø was the man who should have worn the yellow bib as he led once Martin's two worst scores were removed, and simultaneously Eckhoff likewise was close at hand. You could argue that really, finishing 10th to Doro's 11th after missing a third shot in the final stand is not where Tiril lost the globe, she lost it when she had that awful sprint in Antholz, because although she had a heroic pursuit, she only salvaged a bundle of points rather than being in the position to make hay while the sun shone. And while she's been the strongest over the season with her several wins, Doro was the strongest when it counted, at the World Championships (yes, I know Marte left with a bigger haul of medals, but when you take the relays out of it she has 2 golds and a silver to Marte's 2 golds 2 bronzes, so Doro takes it on countback). The point of biathlon is to be the best across both disciplines; if Denise Herrmann could shoot better she'd be higher up. Tiril has historically been in that same position, but this year she's got the shooting right, the mood around the team seems better (and she's rooming with a close friend and clubmate who is basically a little sister in all but name), and she's putting out the performances that we've known for six years she had the talent to do, she just only seemed to be able to do once or twice a season.

She may never have another chance to get this close. Or, something about the shooting might have clicked and she'll be a serious threat next season.

Please, for God's sake, tell me that your last sentence is about concerns to do with global warming, and we're not already proclaiming Covid armageddon for ten months' time.
 
Great way for Fourcade to retire, again showing how strong mentally he is and Johannes Boe showed again that he sometimes crumbles under pressure but ended up being enough to win his second World Cup. Fillon Maillet and Jacquelin will be his major rivals in the future, great race from both.
yeah, indeed. Jacquelin was on his tails until the last shooting, no idea what would have happened if they came in together.... It would certainly feel a bit awkward to see him retire with a win gifted by a team mate.
 
Jan 7, 2019
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I wish we are able to watch a normal wintersports racing calendar next season but I am not optimistic.
Please, for God's sake, tell me that your last sentence is about concerns to do with global warming, and we're not already proclaiming Covid armageddon for ten months' time.
Covid armageddon throws in a great unknown. And even if the pandemic has passed by November, there would be lingering after-effects of it. For one economic crash seems certain. Also due to restrictions the preparation of athletes is hindered.

Winter sports is set to face multiple challenges next season and they are not all about snow. For example what would happen to professional XC in a deep economic recession, while they are already in a vulnerable situation? There are a lot of variables at play and we don't know the full effects of them yet.

It has to be said though that winter athletes have got a bit lucky. They almost managed to complete the season and the next season is still far away. Meanwhile summer athletes are pretty much screwed.
 
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We all know that the world is going crazy these days, but Stina Nilsson becomes a biathlete next season. Huh, what? Well, maybe that's the sign of times... Who knows, what happens next.
 
Stina has already been seen taking a shooting lesson at Östersund a few years ago, but because of her prominence in XC it never went beyond that at that point. Maybe after a year out and with Sweden not really missing her she got the itch to give it a go. It will be interesting to see how well she takes to shooting; Denise Herrmann spent most of the first year and a half on the IBU Cup, for example.

This kind of strengthens my case in terms of my argument that one of the biggest problems XC faces is the popularity of biathlon in continental Europe; fortunately for Sweden they have lots of good XC skiers even without Stina - there's Karlsson, Svahn, Andersson, Sundling, Dahlqvist etc. - but we are at a stage where for many nations, especially on the women's side of things, where at least in freestyle, the fastest biathlete is probably stronger than any of their XC skiers.
 
I am quite certain that she was given a nice offer by the biathlon union in Sweden. She had to have interest, yes, but it wasn't entirely her decision, I am sure of it.

Denise Herrmann is the strongest skier in biathlon, maybe Eckhoff has a say on that here and there, but Herrmann never got on the podium in a distance event in cross country skiing, only in sprints. The top women in biathlon (in terms of ski speed) could score top 15 results, but on the podium?

The money is there in biathlon that isn't there in cross country, likely a motivator for Nilsson. She also has won an olympic gold, a world championship gold, a sprint cup title, podium spot overall in the tour de ski....maybe winning an olympic gold in the relay or an individual gold at the world's is something that could have motivated her for the next couple seasons. In terms of age, she switched sports the same time Herrmann did, almost 27.
 
Well great move for Biathlon, bad move for xc skiing. I really fear XC skiing could more or less die outside of Norway and Russia.

As for Nilsson, in theory she should be the fastest skater in biathlon easily. So if she has some sort of talent for shooting and picks it up decently, she `ll surley be a main threat. Bejing 2022 will be here big goal I guess.
 
Herrmann is only debatably the best skier in biathlon. On her day she's peerless, but Eckhoff and Røiseland have both been as good or better several times during the season. Using the ski speed guide from biathlon.com.ua, Eckhoff and Herrmann are pretty consistently in line with one another. It's a flawed metric, but according to their calculations, Røiseland has been fastest this season (where did her ski speed come from in late 2015-16?), with Herrmann and Eckhoff tied for 2nd. They were also tied for 4th/5th in 2017-18, with Herrmann being slightly quicker than Eckhoff last season. There's then a bit of a drop off to Mäkäräinen (who is now retiring of course) and Braisaz, then a smaller one to Aymonier, and then another one to the likes of Wierer, Tandrevold and Öberg. Davidová fits into that group as well, but on her day she can be up there with the Braisaz types, but she's just too inconsistent. Likewise people like Häcki and Mironova were setting top 5-10 ski times in December but fell away massively in Jan/Feb.

You would expect given the relative perception of their talents as XC skiers that Stina would comfortably slot in ahead of Marte, sure, but there's also a couple of factors to take into account. Firstly, Stina has missed almost an entire season due to injury, and so will she immediately get back to the kind of level that she was at? And secondly, just how much time is she likely to lose in the range? It's all well and good skiing among the best, but if you shoot really slowly, it can hold you back - just ask Justine Braisaz, who once podiumed a race with something absurd like the 92nd best range time that she'd have comfortably won otherwise. Pacing one's skiing around the shooting is another factor that Stina will need to learn, easing up toward the end of the lap, that took Herrmann some time although she started out on the IBU Cup where it really didn't matter too much. I don't have much concern for her with regards to getting used to skiing with the rifle on her back, as she's got a fairly smooth technique when she's not in sprint mode and, being quite tall and not the rail thin Mäkäräinen type, the additional weight won't be as much of a factor to consider. I suspect she's quite similar in height/weight to Hanna Öberg, but I can't find any stats right now to confirm.

Bavarian - even without Stina, Swedish women's XC looks pretty healthy right now, with Frida, Ebba, Jonna Sundling, Linn Svahn, Maja Dahlqvist, Emma Ribom all coming through. They don't want for talent atm.
 
Herrmann is only debatably the best skier in biathlon. On her day she's peerless, but Eckhoff and Røiseland have both been as good or better several times during the season. Using the ski speed guide from biathlon.com.ua, Eckhoff and Herrmann are pretty consistently in line with one another. It's a flawed metric, but according to their calculations, Røiseland has been fastest this season (where did her ski speed come from in late 2015-16?), with Herrmann and Eckhoff tied for 2nd. They were also tied for 4th/5th in 2017-18, with Herrmann being slightly quicker than Eckhoff last season. There's then a bit of a drop off to Mäkäräinen (who is now retiring of course) and Braisaz, then a smaller one to Aymonier, and then another one to the likes of Wierer, Tandrevold and Öberg. Davidová fits into that group as well, but on her day she can be up there with the Braisaz types, but she's just too inconsistent. Likewise people like Häcki and Mironova were setting top 5-10 ski times in December but fell away massively in Jan/Feb.

You would expect given the relative perception of their talents as XC skiers that Stina would comfortably slot in ahead of Marte, sure, but there's also a couple of factors to take into account. Firstly, Stina has missed almost an entire season due to injury, and so will she immediately get back to the kind of level that she was at? And secondly, just how much time is she likely to lose in the range? It's all well and good skiing among the best, but if you shoot really slowly, it can hold you back - just ask Justine Braisaz, who once podiumed a race with something absurd like the 92nd best range time that she'd have comfortably won otherwise. Pacing one's skiing around the shooting is another factor that Stina will need to learn, easing up toward the end of the lap, that took Herrmann some time although she started out on the IBU Cup where it really didn't matter too much. I don't have much concern for her with regards to getting used to skiing with the rifle on her back, as she's got a fairly smooth technique when she's not in sprint mode and, being quite tall and not the rail thin Mäkäräinen type, the additional weight won't be as much of a factor to consider. I suspect she's quite similar in height/weight to Hanna Öberg, but I can't find any stats right now to confirm.

Bavarian - even without Stina, Swedish women's XC looks pretty healthy right now, with Frida, Ebba, Jonna Sundling, Linn Svahn, Maja Dahlqvist, Emma Ribom all coming through. They don't want for talent atm.
Well, the fact that Swedens most accomplished xc skier takes the risk in the middle of her prime to make the change spwaks for itself, though. So even for a top swedish xc skater jumping ship to biathlon seems to offer the better financial perspective.
That is really not a good sighn for xc skiing let
s be honest. XC skiing is dying outside of Norway and Russia as a professional sport. Yes there are the Swedish girls but it is only the Swedish girls. For the men it is all goind downhill, too.
I just can not see how XC skiing can recover from the current situation. Honestly, I think it is only getting worse and worse.
 
Well yes, the fact that this is happening in Sweden is also notable - but at least while Stina is obviously very successful and accomplished and her choosing biathlon over XC does speak to the relative appeal of the two sports, it doesn't more or less remove another colour of suit from the mix in the same way as Denise Herrmann's defection, while comfortably Germany's most prominent XC skier (at least of those below the age of 35, as they were very reliant on the same old generation for a long time), did, and it's only really now that we're even starting to get the occasional German flag up in the top 10-15 again with Hennig or Carl.
 
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Nilsson is better than Herrmann was in both sprints and distance racing, so ski speed shouldn't be a problem for her. However, it is still a massive gamble for someone, who is effectively a top contender in XC, at least in sprints. Usually you see lesser skiers switching.

Guess the injury-filled season has had an effect in the decision-making, and Nilsson isn't confident she can really top her previous best XC results, so that's where the gamble came in. Everything in XC she could conceivably achieve, has been achieved.

But it's still to gamble. It would take a lot to even match her XC achievements there. Also Sweden has up to 5 competitive women biathletes now that Skottheim has had some good races too, so it's not like even making it into the team is a piece of cake. But I guess the love for biathlon is so great that it's worth trying out. And conversely it highlights the vulnerable financial position of XC that even champions consider the switch.
 
Ironically I think at least 3-4 years ago the actual prize money earnings were theoretically better in XC, but the problem is because such a small number of athletes bogart the top positions, if you're not one of the very best then you're going to be scraping by, in which case it probably is better to take your chances in biathlon where there's the chance of the occasional race going your way. Plus, in biathlon the same field takes part in every race, whereas in the XC you'll often find a completely different field for the sprints and for the distance races so while the prize pot per race may seem better, the number of races where an athlete is contesting for the win is limited. After all, while there have been a few results that have been real surprises due to conditions (Caitlin Gregg's Worlds medal stands out, for example), over the course of a season there are far fewer than in biathlon.

In the 2019-20 biathlon season, 22 women from 12 different nations scored podiums. The most different athletes for a single nation was 3 (Norway - Eckhoff, Røiseland, Tandrevold; France - Braisaz, Simon, Bescond; Germany - Herrmann, Hinz, Preuß). The age spread ran from Mäkäräinen (Jan. 1983) to Davidová (Jan. 1997). In the 2019-20 XC season, 21 women from 9 different nations scored podiums. 6 nations had only a single podium athlete, while Norway contributed 5, Sweden 6 and the USA 4. Norwegians accounted for 47 out of 90 individual podiums (52.22%) in standalone races and stages of which 21 were wins (70%), and 8/9 podium spots in stage races. Consider then that in the biathlon the Norwegians had an unusually dominant season among the women's competition and amounted to 19 out of 63 (30.16%) podiums of which 10 were wins (47.62%). Of course, there were also the relays which the Norwegians won most of for the women, but there were also 7 different countries scoring relay podiums in the women's competition, plus two others scoring points in the mixed relays, whereas relay racing is all but dead in XC outside of the major championships.
 
The obvious question mark is shooting, as it is for Herrmann. If Nilsson can shoot well (not necessarily be a top 5 shooter) then she shouldn't have too many problems getting on the podium or winning races. As I said and as we all know, Herrmann is the top skier in women's biathlon and Nilsson has beaten her much more than she has beaten Nilsson, and she's 5 years older than the Swede. Björn Ferry recently said that there's a 30% chance Nilsson can figure into the medals at the next Olympics.

There is a nice variety in women's biathlon, there isn't one or a couple athletes that are winning everything, and shooting is an equalizer. Herrmann has picked up things pretty quickly, and if Nilsson picks it up as quickly or even better, she could very well dominate. Nilsson was always better in sprints, but the last three full seasons she took part in, she had some fantastic distance results, including a third in the 30km in the Olympics.

Herrmann's career peaked in the 2013/2014 season, all but one of her podiums (individual and team) were during that season. She didn't win a race nor did she get into the podium in any distance race, and her only top 10 distance result was an 8th in the Ruka Triple overall standings. She skied another two seasons on the XC WC tour before switching to Biathlon. It just tells you how weak the ski speed is in biathlon. There are maybe a total of 10 women that could have decent results in XC, but that's it. Herrmann switched because she wasn't getting the results and likely knew she wouldn't be getting them in the future, and that Biathlon was getting more exposure in the media, TV, radio, internet, etc.

Nilsson's reasons are not that cut and dry. Yes, maybe the deep Swedish women's team and the emergence of Karlsson and Svahn, plus Andersson, Sundling, Dahlqvist, Hagström, Lundgren, Ribom, and Kalla still there, she was going to face stiff contention. Maybe the injury also gave her more time to think about the change. She's likely the biggest XC name ever to change to biathlon, having been an Olympic and World champion, 23 individual WC wins. Will be interesting to see how well she does. If things don't go as well as she hoped next year and the year after and she doesn't even make the Olympics, will she keep going? Will she switch back to XC? Will she retire?? I'd be sad if she did retire before the age of 30 and while she made a switch to a different discipline.
 
So Landertiner just retired yesterday (he announced it on public TV). He had a great career and managed to end it on a high note. Super awesome guy and one of the reasons why I was always cheering for the Austrian men, now Felix and Julian will have to work even harder.
 
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Therese Johaug participated in an atlethics competition yesterday. Only the second time on the athletics track after her debut in the national championship last year. Although this time she ran alone. She had light-beams that helped her with the pacing. She ran a world season best (I know, not that many times recorded this season) on the 10k. Her time was 31.40
 

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