Nordic Skiing/Biathlon Thread

Page 233 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.
There is definetely a lack of talent. While Germany has 82 million you must Not forget that there are very few regions where XC skiing is actually possible. The talent pool has really been slim but it has really dried over the last years. Still i think wrong training is a factor, too. Far too little high intensity workouts.
Ya, understandable that most of the country ain't suitable but France have the same issue and have loads coming through in biathlon, and whilst they're missing any top distance guys in cross country, Chanavat is a top sprinter.

France are bringing through talent and I assume capitilising on the success and media attention that id imagine Poiree and then Fourcade brought, but for Germany they've had a lot of success in the time I've been watching biathlon but don't seem to have guys coming through now. I think back to the likes of Gross, Greis, Fischer, Luck and the ones on the women side I earlier mentioned and Germany have continually been a top nation since 2000 but seems to be drying up a lot now.
 
Er... Franziska Preuss is waaaay better than Denise Herrmann this year and over half a decade younger. She also continued to train with her regional trainer in Ruhpolding (who used to run the national team during the Dahlmeier years) whereas everybody else went into the national groups, and her skiing is better this year whereas everybody else is lacking in speed a bit, a bit like in Russia when they made Konovalov the women's coach and he focused everything on shooting to the end result of having no competitive skiers at all in the World Cup team and overtraining them.

To be fair, the German women had a bit of a drought after Neuner retired, but they rebuilt around the new team from the Junior Worlds with Dahlmeier at the centre, Preuss and Hinz. Hettich looks useful, and they are still getting results in the junior worlds, but seem short on the super-talents that have kept them at the top. The men are still concerningly reliant on the 30-somethings, but this was also a problem they had 8-9 years ago when an ageing Greis and a late career renaissance for Birnbacher were their best performers. Doll is still young enough to be around a while yet, their biggest prospect at the lower levels would appear to be Danilo Riethmüller, but the big problem is they don't appear to be keeping speed. Ski speed has been lacking for a few seasons now among the men, and of those on the fringe of the team who might be expected to still be there when Peiffer and Lesser are gone - Rees, Horn, Nawrath, Fratzscher etc. - only possibly Horn is at a level competitive with the best for ski speed. Kühn looks worryingly slow for the moment. It seems to me there's still some pretty strong and lengty startlists in the national competitions (and of course taking this year when there's been no Deutschlandpokal, IBU Cup or Alpencup to assess anybody outside of the World Cup, as a judging point has its weaknesses) but there doesn't seem to be either the ski tech or the coaching to maximise that talent at the World Cup level.

They're in a similar position to Russia of having all of the support cast but not the stars, but nothing like as drastic because their coaches are prepared to give a chance to youth, just not the best at knowing what to do with it.

I think France benefit from a more centralised sport, while they don't have large parts of the country specialised for it, the sport is less siloed into regional hotspots than the German system. The other big problem for Germany is that a few disappointing winters also wipes out a few of their venues which are at lowish altitude, like Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Winterberg and Altenberg (while Oberhof will gladly sacrifice a DP/AlpenCup weekend to keep the World Cup possible if there is a lack of snow) whereas the French venues are largely at high enough altitude to be OK because the Pyrenean venues are at Font-Romeu and Plateau de Beille, and the Alpine/Jurassien ones are largely at places like Méribel, Bessans and Les Saisies which are up at 1300m+ and often tied to Alpine venues so snow supply is better.
 
Last edited:
Reactions: BlueRoads
Well, one thing that can't be overlooked is the medical aspect. It has become very very hard and dangerous for German athletes to be at the highest level there. The golden decade If 2000 to 2010 surely would mit have been possible without it. Today Things have become difficult in that area. I don,' t say it is the main or only reason, but IT IS a factor. There are and have been a few promising Juniors over the years, but once they arrive at the Senior Level they are completely toast.

Well, the Freiburg and Vienna labs were closed, if that's what you mean....
 
That could also be a problem for Italy, but heere it's mainly the shirking talent pool.
Trentino and the provinces of Udine and Belluno (mainly the Comelico area) used to produce lots of talent in the past, nowadays it's just a few athletes from Aosta.
Biathlon has a really small talent pool of kids that grow up near the venues, it's mainly 2 small lateral valleys in Südtirol, the area around Forni Avoltri (pretty much in the middle of nowhere) and a few athletes from Aosta.
 
Jan 7, 2019
159
8
1,845
That could also be a problem for Italy, but heere it's mainly the shirking talent pool.
Trentino and the provinces of Udine and Belluno (mainly the Comelico area) used to produce lots of talent in the past, nowadays it's just a few athletes from Aosta.
Just out of interest. What are young people in those regions choosing to do nowadays instead of taking up skiing? If talent pool shrinks in one field, it means some other field gains them.

I think what concerns XC - and by extension this would influence biathlon too - , this is a problem everywhere. I have read even in Norway the amount of kids taking up skiing has reduced over the past decade. And that's Norway we are talking about! You can only guess, what is happening elsewhere.
 
Suppose it's probably the same everywhere, you get a hyper athletic kid who can do multiple sports professionally, chances are they're taking the most well paid one, which is predominantly football. Country like Norway has a lot of talented individual athletes too (thinking likes of Ingrebitsens and Warholm in particular) that might drive kids to athletics over skiing when they're younger.

Cross country skiing and biathlon are niche sports in a global sense. Likes of Klaebo, Northug will earn well from it but the non Norwegians probably dknt. Even cycling is a globally bigger and better paid sport.
 
Speaking of Northug, funny to see him surprised that now that he's retired he actually has to abide by the law, rather than getting a waiver of justice in case it impacts his ability to win medals.
Some people think the punishment was too severe. I don't know. Driving drunk and drugged up way over the speed limit, getting caught with drugs in his home, and this being the second time he's been caught driving under the influence it's a deserved punishment. Honestly, if he wasn't such a celebrity in Norway, it probably would have been worse for him.

The Tour De Ski starts this Friday with a skate sprint in Val Müstair (Dario Cologna's home town). What should we expect? Well, for the men it's all about Bolshunov at this point. He's building his form, is already ahead of where he was at this time last season and he's more experienced. I don't really see anyone challenging him for the title. It's likely to be one of his own teammates. The Russians have a very strong lineup for the Tour, even without a recovering Ustiugov. Cologna should be in better shape than he was the first few races this season. The French will do well in the skate races, so will the Italians, and maybe a Swede or two pops a good individual race here or there, but I doubt any one of them will be in the top ten come the end of the tour. No Norwegians, no Niskanen, weak Swedish team, uncertain Cologna, Pellegrino can only sprint, uncertain De Fabiani, weak German team, the Russians will pepper the top 10 and could sweep the final standings podium.

The women's race could be wide open. No Johaug means a much better chance for everyone else that hopes to finish high in the overall. The Swedes, Russians and Americans all have strong teams, plus Fähndrich could surprise, Lampič, Hennig and maybe some more central Europeans could figure in the top 10, but I think the winner will be decided on the final day.
 
Hard to look past Andersson and Karlsson on the Women's side.
On the men's side Kalsson's boyfriend Poromaa could surprise, he dominated the Swedish prep races.
Really hard to look past Bolshunov on the men's side with this route and this kind of field.
 
Cologna was a bit unlucky to miss out on the semifinal, but he did a great prologue (faster than Chanavat). Let's hope that at least someone will be able to give Bolshunov a good fight.
A quick report from Toblach: tons of natural snow, but packed and really fast conditions today (-8 at noon). 2 days ago the conditions were brutal, 30-35cm of fresh powder snow less than 48h earlier and they had done a recon on the slope with skidoos. It was like skiing on sand, really slow and brutal for me.
 
Regarding Germany as a winter sport nation: When only 5% of the country have snow in the winter winter sports get a bit ridiculous. Until 2100 it is expected that there is going to be one place in Germany with enough snow for winter sports, the Zugspitze. Compare:
If we get lucky, I'd say.
 
Frida Karlsson coming 4th in the initial sprint to mean that in her weaker discipline she actually gains on pretty much every realistic overall contender except Diggins has as well. Though they have Faehndrich's crash to thank for that.
Yep. Diggins and Karlsson have the ridiculous jury to thank for that. That was one of the most bogus relegations I’ve seen in sprint racing, World Cup or any other level. Lampič was already ahead of Fähndrich when the Swiss fell. How they could penalize her for that is beyond me, even a home athlete. The Americans have ridden a wave of good fortune so far this season. Diggins didn’t deserve that podium, IMHO. A bit surprised to see the Russian women, especially Nepryaeva not looking so sparky. She just qualified in 26th and did get into 8th but she looked slow. I think the classic race tomorrow will be great to watch. No Johaug to break the field after 3 minutes of racing and with more snow falling, should make for tight pack racing.

Pellegrino is too good right now, I think even Klæbo would find it difficult to beat the Italian. Bolshunov finishing second in his weakest discipline has to be feeling good about things. He’s already got 54 seconds plus second in qualifying. Chanavat again fails to get to a podium. He seemed to have bonked the second half of the final. Maltsev may get on the final podium, he’s looked very good over the last few weeks. Cologna surprised me today. I know it’s his home town, his home tracks but for a 34 year old that’s an excellent sprint. He could challenge for the podium as well. Really depends on the pursuit on Sunday, the pursuit in Toblach and definitely the sprint in Val Di Fiemme.
 
Regarding Germany as a winter sport nation: When only 5% of the country have snow in the winter winter sports get a bit ridiculous. Until 2100 it is expected that there is going to be one place in Germany with enough snow for winter sports, the Zugspitze. Compare:
If we get lucky, I'd say.
Germany’s neighbors seem to have very good winter conditions so far. Look at Switzerland. Plenty of snow in Davos and Val Müstair. I’ve seen photos from Italy and France and lots of snow there as well. Is Germany really having low snow conditions so far??
 
Germany’s neighbors seem to have very good winter conditions so far. Look at Switzerland. Plenty of snow in Davos and Val Müstair. I’ve seen photos from Italy and France and lots of snow there as well. Is Germany really having low snow conditions so far??
Germany only really has comparable altitude to those in the very south and a few parts of the Schwarzwald though. The middle-sized mountain ranges like the Thüringer Wald and the Bayrischer Wald are probably struggling.
 
Cologna was a bit unlucky to miss out on the semifinal, but he did a great prologue (faster than Chanavat). Let's hope that at least someone will be able to give Bolshunov a good fight.
A quick report from Toblach: tons of natural snow, but packed and really fast conditions today (-8 at noon). 2 days ago the conditions were brutal, 30-35cm of fresh powder snow less than 48h earlier and they had done a recon on the slope with skidoos. It was like skiing on sand, really slow and brutal for me.
Good to hear about Toblach. There’a enough time for the new snow to really settle, particularly with colder weather. I do see that there may be snow for the pursuit on the second day. What’s be worrisome for the skiers is that snow is also likely at Val Di Fiemme and Alpe Cermis.
 
Germany only really has comparable altitude to those in the very south and a few parts of the Schwarzwald though. The middle-sized mountain ranges like the Thüringer Wald and the Bayrischer Wald are probably struggling.
I know, and I wasn’t expecting them to have meters of snow, but at least respectable amounts. There’s possibilities in Schonach (Schwarzwald), areas around Freiburg, Oberwiesenthal and Oberhof in the East, Garmisch, Traunstein, Oberammergau, Oberstdorf, etc in Bavaria...I know that most of those areas aren’t as high as, but there’s plenty of opportunities. I think there are more than one or two issues facing German winter sports.
 
I know, and I wasn’t expecting them to have meters of snow, but at least respectable amounts. There’s possibilities in Schonach (Schwarzwald), areas around Freiburg, Oberwiesenthal and Oberhof in the East, Garmisch, Traunstein, Oberammergau, Oberstdorf, etc in Bavaria...I know that most of those areas aren’t as high as, but there’s plenty of opportunities. I think there are more than one or two issues facing German winter sports.
Of course you're right, there are other issues which are more important for the current lack of newcomers. I was more talking about the future than the present. In the last ten years there has already been a significant snow decline and that won't get any better.
Something I also find meaningful is how the female stars, like Neuner and Dahlmeier, tend to end their career early, because the sport does not give them that much anymore, despite them being among the few female sportive heroes here. Or maybe also because of that. Anyway, looks like private life with other goals appeals to them rather soon.
 
Of course you're right, there are other issues which are more important for the current lack of newcomers. I was more talking about the future than the present. In the last ten years there has already been a significant snow decline and that won't get any better.
Something I also find meaningful is how the female stars, like Neuner and Dahlmeier, tend to end their career early, because the sport does not give them that much anymore, despite them being among the few female sportive heroes here. Or maybe also because of that. Anyway, looks like private life with other goals appeals to them rather soon.
I think those two characters however are very atypical sportspeople and neither were particularly comfortable with celebrity status - which paradoxically, especially in Lena's case, was part of her appeal. Dahlmeier almost as soon as she had her debut and took everybody by surprise in the Worlds relay in 2013 was saying in interviews that she didn't see herself in biathlon for the long haul. Like Neuner, she achieved so much so quickly there was little more for her to accomplish in the sport bar stats padding. For Neuner, she could easily have gone after Forsberg's records had she been motivated to, but having already got so many Olympic, World and World Cup overall titles and with a home World Championships, she was afforded a perfect opportunity to retire on top. She married and started a family almost straight away after that, and while we have seen the likes of Kuzmina and Marie Dorin Habert come back successfully from motherhood, she clearly didn't feel the need. It's also part of the price the sport pays for annual World Championships, compared to the Nordic Worlds being every two years like athletics. The other early retirements among the German women are for other reasons - Tina Bachmann's form was irreparably damaged by a glandular condition, Miriam Gössner obviously was never quite the same after her spinial injury and the team kind of moved away from needing her lopsided skillset, and Kathrin Hitzer's retirement was to do with the team's selection decisions and fixation on the stunt casting with Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle frustrating a few athletes on the outside (Hammerschmidt was another of these but without the family commitment of Hitzer/Lang chose to keep battling on). Quite a few fringe athletes like Sabrina Buchholz and Nadine Horchler have kept competing, hopping between the World and IBU Cup, well into their 30s.
 
Well, Frida did her best to break away, but the superior downhill skills of Diggins allied to the Americans having better glide for that section (they always seem to nail that) neutralised her and we got essentially a small bunch sprint as they allowed the likes of Svahn and Stupak back in. Seems like the overall should be Karlsson vs. Diggins (please let it be Karlsson, I could not cope with Eurosport for the rest of the season if their beloved Jess wins the Tour de Ski), Andersson faded and Nepryaeva not quite there yet and this should have been a good day for Natasha.
 
The course in Val Müstair isn’t as demanding as say Val Di Fiemme, but I was still expecting Andersson and Karlsson to break away and win by at 15-20 seconds. Andersson may have expended a bit too much to try to get from 21st to 1 or 2nd, but then again Kirpichenko and Zhambalova started behind her and both had fantastic races to catch up and stick with the leaders until the very end. Nepryaeva just looks too heavy and without much snap. If Kirpichenko and Zhambalova could stay there and challenge for the podium with numbers in the 20s, Nepryaeva should have stuck with the pace without too much trouble, particularly on a course with that much double poling and long downhills which is one of her strengths. She needs to make up a lot of time now if she wants to make it to the podium for a third consecutive season.

I agree about Diggins. I hope anyone but her her wins the tour. I can’t stand Dixon and Winterton blabbing about her. I get it, she’s American, they are commentating for English speakers, but every season it’s the same old hype and non stop praise. I’ve decided in recent years to watch far less British Eurosport and just catch German/Norwegian/Russian/Swedish commentary, of course they want their own racers to do well but it’s not over the top and it’s well balanced.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY