Nordic Skiing/Biathlon Thread

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Östersund was also where my favourite Norwegian, Miriam Gössner, got her breakthrough with two podium finishes in 2011.
Obviously some ahtletes need to get back in the race atmosphere, before they can perform at their best, and others are looking to peak later than the "unknowns", who has to fight to get into an keep their places in the teams.
 
Swedes must have had some super skis today in the Biathlon.

Btw, Klaebo is looking like a proper allrounder now. Even though he was caught off guard by Valnes, and all credit to Valnes, Klaebo will probably still win the sprint cup. He may no longer be unbeatable on those sharp uphills, but he will if/when he gets used to other skiers matching him find ways to win - as he has always done. But Jesus what a performance in the 15k.
 
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I heard that he will start the season in Davos, don't really know why.
I have understood Ustiugov fell ill (not with covid though).

However, Heidi Weng is the first of what can be called the "mental victim" of covid-19, having withdrawn from competition. So the corona situation also tests the mental strength of athletes. Also with Jacobsen having retired after last season and Östberg out with an injury, Norway's team effort has been weakened quite a bit behind Johaug. It looks like young Fossesholm is going to be their #2 skier.

Swedes must have had some super skis today in the Biathlon.
Five competitors in top 11 shows how Stina Nilsson won't have it easy to make it even into the main team (either WCH or relays). But that's the calculated gamble she has taken.
 
Ustyugov was sick. Got sick during the travel to Muonio and couldn’t train for most of the camp. Did one of the training races and finished 30th. Smart move not to take him to Ruka. Racing with even a bit of a cold can lead to long term damage. The real worry is that three years in a row now he’s had health issues at various points during the season. He’ll have to start thinking about picking and choosing his moments to peak, because durability is quickly diminishing. Needs to take a page out of Johan Olson’s book. Forget about the overall, just focus on a few races a year and do well at worlds or Olympics.

No real shocks today. Johaug kept her lead. Dahlqvist, Nepryaeva and Svahn, the three fastest sprinters in that chase pack took themselves out on the final downhill and lost the chance to fight for the podium. Sorina impressive again. Once Belorukova and eventually Sedova come to top form, the Russians will contend for the relay at worlds. Other countries are struggling at the moment, just having one skier in the top 30 is considered a success.

Klæbo did what he does best, wheel suck and then sprint in the last 200-300 meters of the race. Maybe if they started together it would have been a different story. In any case Bolshunov, despite not being at his best, is already doing better than he did at this point last year. He was 5th in the mini tour and left Ruka in 5th in the overall, 133 pts behind Klæbo. This year he’s 2nd overall and only 39 behind the Norwegian. There’s no guarantee of another crystal globe, but he’s looking dangerous. I don’t expect Iversen to keep his form. He’s done this almost every season now, start well in the first couple of weekends and then drop off.

mäki and Hakola racing well. Bodes well for Finland’s chances in the relays.
 
The Swedes are looking super strong in the biathlon, Hanna Öberg is looking like a possible World Cup winner and Samuelsson is also looking like one of the athletes that may be closer to JTB during the season. The depth of their women's team almost mirrors the one in the cross-country and to think that Stina Nilsson might still enter in this team must be very concerning for any rivals.

Speaking about cross-country, Johaug was unbeatable today but I feel that Karlsson and Andersson are still a bit far from their best. Sorina and Fosseholm were really impressive.
As for the men, Russia with a great depth but it was almost impossible to beat Klaebo in these circumstances.
 
I damn sure hope the Swedish biathlon success now is not just smoke and mirrors. Skis were most likely exceptional, the Swedes must have figured something out in Kontiolahti. Staying in Kontiolahti may be a godsend to the Swedes if conditions stay somewhat consistent. As LS has pointed out the Östersund season opener incentivizes a strong early season form, so that's another factor.
 
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I feel like FIS has missed a trick here. After the cancellation of Lillehammer they should have another World Cup event next weekend at Ruka again (like other sports have multiple events in the same location). But maybe it was too late to re-organize it that way.

As for pursuits... I was surprised Karlsson and Andersson couldn't pull the chasing group apart. Instead they were all just playing tactics, so that even Brennan caught the group. Still can't get my head around where has Sorina come from. FIS tells she used to barely score points in the past. But in general behind Johaug Sweden's depth is remarkable. Their sprinters can put in solid top 10 level distance performances as well. Particularly noteworthy is Linn Svahn, who resembles Nilsson in so many ways. I think at some point she is going to put in some impressive distance races too. Not to mention she is basically a shoe-in for the final leg of the 4x5 km relay.

As for men. I think some Finns (Hakola, Mäki) clearly targeted their form for their home event in the beginning of the season. Awesome performance by Holund. Shame he didn't start closer to the front. But at the top it went as expected (JHK waiting and then pouncing in the end).

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As for biathlon. Sweden is indeed exceptional. I wonder if Samuelsson is finally going to put in a strong season, which has actually been expected from him for a few years now. Talent is there. JTB resumes normal service. Frenchmen were supposed to be his strongest challengers (particularly Fillon Maillet and Jacquelin), but they are not quite there at the moment.

Hanna Öberg is clearly a major world cup contender this season. Wierer is usually consistent and should be up there too. Let's see, who else can play this game at the front. Alas it looks like Tiril Eckhoff has returned to her previous inconsistent self. Some younger athletes (i.e Tandrevold, Davidova) haven't yet shown the kind of breakthrough expected from them.
 
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Well the first weekend was quite interesting. Klaebo was really String but that was somewhat expected, of course. The Layout of the Ruka tracks really suits him. AS long as climbs aren't too Long He will always be tough to beat. Given the layout of the Tour the Ski, the general domination if sprint events in the calendar and the fact that the world Championchips will be raced on the whack ass Oberstdorf tracks, Klaebo could be in for a very succesful season. The man to deny him of that is Bolshunov, of course . He looked better than he did last year, so that is quite a promising sign fir a good season. The Finish men where a nice suprise. The Red Army looked solid aa well, despite Ustiugov missing. Sweden was really poor, apart if their new golden boy. Let us hope that this was not their real strength. All in all, the Norwegian domination was not as big as it was in previous years. Cologna seems to be done. The ladies field is interesting. Yes there is Johaug, but behind her it is a real battle with Sweden being the strongest nation. Could bei a really good season. Too bad Lillehammer is cancelled. There is only one more distance race before the Tour der Ski. Crazy. In Biathlon there were no real suprises besides the strong team showing of Sweden. Besides that it is too early to see some new trends. France, Austria an Russia are struggling a bit I ' d say. But let us see what happens next week.
 
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Swiss TV was throwing some shade at the Norwegian federation, the World Cup race got cancelled, but they were able to organize a domestic race on the same weekend. With Italy keeping all skiing stations closed until after the holidays Alpe Cermis could become a bit of a question mark, but all the ski stations are still already working to get their slopes ready atm, so it should still happen.
I really hope that Poromaa becomes Swedens new top guy, we need more nations competing for the win.
 
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Kläbo won't go to world cup events during 2020 at least any more. It looks like the world cup is gradually starting to derail, and who knows, what the outcome will be.

Also I can't help but criticize FIS that they haven't compressed competitions into fewer venues in these days. Also things like Tour de Ski in multiple locations seem highly questionable to me in these times. If they want to do tours, do short ones in one weekend in one location. Like it was in Ruka.
 
Maybe it is because of the Coronavirus, but let's be honest, Klaebo didn't race the 2017/2018 TDS and was thinking of missing it two years ago as well to 'rest and train.' He and his grandfather are very cunning. I am willing to bet that had he not won the mini tour in Ruka, he would have made a different decision. He knows that others have to catch up to him in terms of the points, so he can afford to miss a weekend.

I think it's disrespectful of the Norwegians to simply pull out. As was mentioned above, other countries were already getting ready to leave or were in Finland preparing for the Ruka opening. If Finland let foreigners in, why couldn't Norway? And why have national races the same weekend then? The Americans traveled to Europe, the Russians had to fly to Instanbul and then to Helsinki just to get to Muonio (no wonder Ustyugov got sick) and the Norwegians can't accommodate people? Just have less skiers in rooms, have rules in place, quarantine those that are or show symptoms of being sick (with whatever, doesn't have to be corona) and go from there. I am willing to bet that FIS, being the chickens that they are, will cancel races if the Norwegians make the final decision not to race.

If they are so desperate to pull out now, why not bring up during the Summer months when the calendar was proposed?
 
Besides that it is too early to see some new trends. France, Austria an Russia are struggling a bit I ' d say. But let us see what happens next week.
Italy is way behind too.
Both Hofer and Vittozzi had to stop training outside for more than two weeks because of a COVID outbreak at the end of October. Windisch only got to Kontiolahti today. Wierer was not involved and it shows, his shape is pretty good already.
 
Well Klaebeo/the Norwegians pulling out like this is obviously a questionable move. I agree that this should have been communicated a lot earler. that being said, I agree that Fis hasn`t done a good job. Like they never do in XC. I agree that they should have changed the shedule a lot more. Concetrating on fewer venues with more races. The y are playing a dangerous game. if they are unlucky lots of racers could get cancelled on short notice. Again, keeping that Dresden race speaks volume for itself.
 
In Biathlon there were no real suprises besides the strong team showing of Sweden. Besides that it is too early to see some new trends. France, Austria an Russia are struggling a bit I ' d say. But let us see what happens next week.
For Russia I don't think this is unexpected. They had an issue where Coronavirus got into their test race environment a couple of weeks before Kontiolahti, so they had to quarantine on arrival until re-tested. A couple of athletes skipped the test races sick and some of them (most notably Slivko) were positive, however others that were carrying but asymptomatic competed (Porshneva, Streltsov) and Babikov tested positive on arrival in Kontiolahti, hence he and Garanichev (his roommate) had to be kept out of competition.

In the prism of this, their results are fairly understandable. Last season the men's team was basically Loginov top, Eliseev 2nd, then a whole lot of nothing. Young prospects we can expect improvement from, like Porshnev and Streltsov, were out because of Covid concerns, while Babikov and Garanichev were the only proven World Cup talent in the squad besides those two. The rest of the men's team at Kontiolahti was comprised of IBU Cup journeymen as a result, who performed at or around their usual level. The women are missing Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht who is pregnant, and so their top performers last year were Svetlana Mironova, who's been sick and the sprint was her first competitive outing all year (she's done no pre-season racing at all) and Larisa Kuklina, who had a bad fall in the Individual so it's hard to say how representative her results would have been. Pavlova and Kaisheva are decent World Cup/IBU Cup tweeners who have a few top 10 results in their careers but aren't to be relied on for them, and the others were debutantes, of whom Irina Kazakevich was actually pretty good I thought.
 
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Italy is way behind too.
Both Hofer and Vittozzi had to stop training outside for more than two weeks because of a COVID outbreak at the end of October. Windisch only got to Kontiolahti today. Wierer was not involved and it shows, his shape is pretty good already.
COVID has indeed thrown a spanner in the works. How well it would explain different performances is hard to tell, because there are fluctuations in form from season-to-season anyway. But it's possible it has played a role in one way or another.

For example Sweden's remarkable biathlon performance. One thing is that they had excellent skis, but maybe their preparation as a team has been less compromised by Covid than that of other nations. It's of course purely speculative with no good answer. Just food for thought and only time will tell.
 
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So in addition to Norway, Sweden and Finland have withdrawn from Davos and Dresden as well. Will other countries follow suit? What will happen?

If they are so desperate to pull out now, why not bring up during the Summer months when the calendar was proposed?
I agree that this should have been communicated a lot earler.
It's an interesting question, why has there been a communication breakdown between FIS and at least some countries. Is there some kind of a power struggle going on? Without powerhouses World Cup events may financially collapse.
 
So in addition to Norway, Sweden and Finland have withdrawn from Davos and Dresden as well. Will other countries follow suit? What will happen?




It's an interesting question, why has there been a communication breakdown between FIS and at least some countries. Is there some kind of a power struggle going on? Without powerhouses World Cup events may financially collapse.
Well there are No spectators anyway and the TV money isnT affected either. So No DirectX financial haben.
 
Well, Jürg Capol, the marketing director for FIS Cross Country stated that how is it that the Norwegian biathletes, alpine skiers, nordic combiners, freestyle skiers, etc have no issues competing and the cross country federation does? They really should have assessed this situation a bit better, and much earlier. The Norwegians AND the FIS. Maybe the Norwegians make a last minute decision to send their team to the TDS, at the least.

What I don't understand is Sweden's decision. Since the beginning of the pandemic, when governments were making decisions of shutting down, closing borders, closing restaurants, universities, schools, limiting gatherings to a few people, making masts compulsory, Sweden had one of the most relaxed measures in Europe, if not the world. It's not for me to decide whether it was smart or not, but if they didn't worry about it as much then, why are they so worried about it now? It's been almost a year since the first cases were recorded in China, and how long since the first recorded cases in Sweden? Why are they so worried about it now? What were they doing all this time?

I do agree that this is a hit on the world of cross country skiing. It's still a small sport outside of Europe, and if races start getting canceled and/or teams decide not to send any athletes to some or most of the races, the sport will suffer. Sponsors will pull out, TV and media in general will lose interest and that will be that. People will still go out and ski with their families, there will be local races, but I don't see how the World Cup will keep going.
 
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While FIS has lacked foresight to have another competition weekend in Ruka, things carry on in biathlon.

Samuelsson skiing faster than JTB. Well, that's certainly something new.

Norway has all their 6 competitors in top 11 in the overall world cup standings, so they have most depth right now. France hasn't had the peak form they had last year, but still 5 competitors inside top 22 overall, which makes them useful in a team effort.

In women's relay Norway failed, so 3 countries (Swe, Fra, Ger) were head and shoulders above the rest. Adding Norway in there too, I wonder if those 4 nations are going to be a cut above the rest this season in terms of depth. No more Switzerland heroics we got used to last season.
 
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