Nordic Skiing/Biathlon Thread

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That was a bit hilarious for the Russians. Bolshunov has this won though bar any injuries or covid, but fight for 2nd and 3rd could be decent with Cologna, Manificat and the Russians. De Fabiani was miles off today so he's out of it
 
Bolshunov doing Bolshunov things. Class of his own. Those three other Russians should start in clown costumes tomorrow. Very good Performance by Cologna. The great Tlthing is that gaps are already really bign So tomorrow will be a real race from Start to Finish. That is great. I disagree with your guys rake on the track. I think ist better than Val die Fiemne. The climbs in Val die Fiemme are too short. Plus Val die Fiemme never has real snow but always fast icy artificial snow which Limits gaps.
 
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.
Well the snow isn't the problem. The medium mountain ranges get enough of it. Places Like Oberhof have great infrastrucure Folie artificial snow and so. And let's Not forget that You can have all The snow in Winter You want, 8-9 month of The time You have to traon Off snow anyway. The oroblem is that only a fraction of the population lives in these areas that have a winter sport tradition. 95 percent plus of the Population lives in areas with no Wintersport tradition and hardly any snow. And the population in the mountain areas is decreasing, so you get less kids.
 
Chervotkin the kamikaze taking out Belov when there was no need to try any heroics. Not only do they lose a quite possible 1-4 placing, but lose 20+ seconds to Cologna and let Manificat (not sure how all of a sudden he’s able to stick so well in a classic race after nothing significant for a few years) into the overall podium picture. Maltsev and particularly Melnichenko didn’t impress today. I know they are better skate skiers but that was disappointing. And Oskar Svensson double poles (with skate skis of course) his way to the top 10?!? Where did that energy come from??

I still think the Russians have a very good shot at sweeping the podium but Cologna will only get better so they need to really hammer, particularly in Toblach and the sprint in Val Di Fiemme.
 
Given how well he skied in the classic race today Momo could end up fighting for a podium spot, he's always great on the Alpe Cermis ascent. The same could be said about Spitsov, who could be the 2nd Russian on the final podium.
I have to say that the route is crap and that the Fis/Norge mafia did everything they could to help Klaebo. Bonus seconds only in the sprint and in the one distance race that really suits him (Val di Fiemme mass start classic).
 
Given how well he skied in the classic race today Momo could end up fighting for a podium spot, he's always great on the Alpe Cermis ascent. The same could be said about Spitsov, who could be the 2nd Russian on the final podium.
I have to say that the route is crap and that the Fis/Norge mafia did everything they could to help Klaebo. Bonus seconds only in the sprint and in the one distance race that really suits him (Val di Fiemme mass start classic).
Yeah this is another route that was geared towards Klæbo. I miss the days of a prologue, a skiathlon, a 20 km classic mass start (they even had a 30km mass start only 5 years ago), the Cortina to Dobbiaco/Toblach was fascinating as well...FIS has really messed up the traditional routes and it’s really monotone and stale right now, two sprints and all the distance races are 15km except for the final stage. They had a great opportunity to change the route last year as it wasn’t championship season but it’s obvious they don’t care about that. They want loops, short races and skate sprints.
 
I watched the race again and I am even more amazed at Belov and Chervotkin. Instead of trying to get up quickly to save their places and precious seconds for the overall, they yell at each other and stand there. Yes Belov lost his ski, so in some way it’s great that he didn’t get swallowed up by the chasing group and lose more time than he did but they could have fought to at least stay ahead of Spitsov and Svensson. Svensson said he was amazed that they were standing and still arguing when he skied past them. The dinner table may not be too bad because those two are not in the same training groups.
 
Yeah this is another route that was geared towards Klæbo. I miss the days of a prologue, a skiathlon, a 20 km classic mass start (they even had a 30km mass start only 5 years ago), the Cortina to Dobbiaco/Toblach was fascinating as well...FIS has really messed up the traditional routes and it’s really monotone and stale right now, two sprints and all the distance races are 15km except for the final stage. They had a great opportunity to change the route last year as it wasn’t championship season but it’s obvious they don’t care about that. They want loops, short races and skate sprints.
IT is a shame. Every race these dasys is either a sprint or a 10/15km Race. So boring. FIS thinks short races are the way for xc skiing to stay attractive and compete with a Biathlon. A horrible approach IMO .
 
IT is a shame. Every race these dasys is either a sprint or a 10/15km Race. So boring. FIS thinks short races are the way for xc skiing to stay attractive and compete with a Biathlon. A horrible approach IMO .
And why those 10/15km mass starts at he TdS when neither of them actually gets used at the Wc or the Olympics?
Biathlon has one mass start event and is doing fine, why can't XC skiing just have the Skiathlon as the one mass start and have everything else be and individual start/pursuit? The best races we got last year were the long distance races in the Scandinavian Ski Tour and at the Holmenkollen and on the men's side both the last WC and the last Olympic games had a great 50km race when the deciding move happend rather early.
Biathlon is doing a few things right, less useless races right before/after a big event and limiting the amount of starters per nation wouldn't be a bad idea, the top 30 not being 50-66% Russian and Norwegian could help.

My heart is also bleeding a bit bcause this year we'd have the perfect conditions for a Cortina-Toblach pursuit, lot's of natural snow.
 
IT is a shame. Every race these dasys is either a sprint or a 10/15km Race. So boring. FIS thinks short races are the way for xc skiing to stay attractive and compete with a Biathlon. A horrible approach IMO .
In one way I can understand the annoyance but at the same time, the sprints are probably the most competitive races they have , especially without the Norwegians. Its the same guys of course but it greatly increases the nations who can compete. Across both genders, you have strong potential winners from Sweden, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Slovenia, US, France, Italy in the sprint races, and there's more countries who can get into the top 6. We don't really have that in the longer distance ones where it's pretty much just the first 3 countries who'll share the wins between them.
 
In one way I can understand the annoyance but at the same time, the sprints are probably the most competitive races they have , especially without the Norwegians. Its the same guys of course but it greatly increases the nations who can compete. Across both genders, you have strong potential winners from Sweden, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Slovenia, US, France, Italy in the sprint races, and there's more countries who can get into the top 6. We don't really have that in the longer distance ones where it's pretty much just the first 3 countries who'll share the wins between them.
Yea but the problem is it becomes self-perpetuating. So long as the calendar is so heavily weighted towards sprinting, why would you ever focus on becoming a strong distance athlete? And as long as the budget disparity is allowed to continue unchecked, then of course nations outside of those with the huge budget advantages are going to look at the disciplines where there are more variables, whether that be gravitating towards a different sport entirely, like biathlon where the disadvantage in ski speed can be countered with shooting, or focusing on sprint events which have a greater element of luck determining the outcome, whether that be because of demolition derby courses like Gatineau being greenlit or because a wrecking ball on skis like Mattias Strandvall ends up wiping out a major contender in the first heat, whereas in the distance events, especially when they're conservatively raced, the big guns can always come back from misfortune.

It doesn't help when you have the de facto international broadcast led by a complete imbecile who has neither patience to allow a race to develop, nor can remember what happened five minutes ago or understand what he sees on a timing screen in an individual start, so insists incessantly that the way to improve the sport (and he maintains this argument in NoCo and biathlon too) is to have more short head to head events so he doesn't have to think too hard.

I get they want to have fans see more of the competitors rather than the old days of a 50k being 2 laps of a big 25km loop or something. But they could always do it like in cycling. A 30k men's race could be 2 laps of a long and demanding 10km circuit, but then 4 laps of a 2,5km circuit at the end, rather than just doing 6 laps of the same 5km course. The fans see the athletes the same amount of time - and more often at the important part of the race - but you still get the scope for more variety in the course.
 
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First thing FIS needs to do is to let go of its 20-year-old pipedream of turning XC-skiing into a big mainstream sport by turning it into a TV-friendly gimmick. It will always be more or less a niche sport and the development of it must be done accordingly. I would say that those who still watch it regularily despite the developments in the last two decades are more than capable of understanding the complexities of this sport and thus more than ready to accept a return to a more varied and sustainable model.

Part of it absolutely must be some kind of leveling of the playing field on the technical side of the sport. Limits on substances/methods that can be used in ski prep and a number of personel allowed for racing weekend (or championships or Tour) per team etc. Things like that should be more easily controllable than actual budget cuts, but still take away some of the unfair advantage richer teams have right now.
 
Neutral wax teams that give the athletes multiple options to pick would really help a lot.
Bolshunov played it smart today, he didn't go all out on the climb and upped the pace on too of the climb and on the descent on every single lap.
Super impressive race by Manificat (and Spitsov). Pellegrino did better than expected, I expected more from Cologna.
 
Looks like Spitsov’s burst in the final couple hundred meters got him the best time of day, which counts as World Cup win. Surprised that Cologna and Belov couldn’t follow. I think they started a bit too quick. Cologna started fast to close on Maltsev and get closer to Bolshunov, but Maltsev just kept grinding away. Belov started fast to close on Manificat, and he stuck with it but the last lap and a half he lost too much. Perhaps even the chance at top 3 on the overall.

I thought blimey Bolshunov doesn’t look good at all, but he skied conservatively on the steepest climb and then really skied aggressively on the flats and downhills, taking a page out of Northug’s book.

The top 5 have a realistic shot at the podium. Everyone else is too far down.
 
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It doesn't help when you have the de facto international broadcast led by a complete imbecile who has neither patience to allow a race to develop, nor can remember what happened five minutes ago or understand what he sees on a timing screen in an individual start, so insists incessantly that the way to improve the sport (and he maintains this argument in NoCo and biathlon too) is to have more short head to head events so he doesn't have to think too hard.

I had exactly the same discussion with the commentator 20 minutes ago.
But...are really mass start events more interesting for the viewers? Especially the new and neutral ones? What a mass start XC event is giving us? 10 years ago it was basically Lineker paraphrasing "80 people are skiing for 2 hours and Northug wins at the end" Yeah, sure. If I see that sort of race twice in a row I will be massively inspired to watch once again for more than 5 minutes.
He defended that the theory of "fun mass starts" by saying that we have to remember that it was not always Northug winning and we had like 30 people in the line.
Then I asked whether he finds sprint stages in cycling with 150 people attacking the line or the mountain ones with people finishing on their own (it's not like we often see that, but however). Still waiting for his reply.

I agree that XC compared to biathlon is a bit limited, but I do agree and think that lack of variety is slowly killing the sport. IIRC Norway tour from last year was a really great race and the key for developing the sport is stage races with many different formats inside. Like the first editions of Tour De Ski
 
I had exactly the same discussion with the commentator 20 minutes ago.
But...are really mass start events more interesting for the viewers? Especially the new and neutral ones? What a mass start XC event is giving us? 10 years ago it was basically Lineker paraphrasing "80 people are skiing for 2 hours and Northug wins at the end" Yeah, sure. If I see that sort of race twice in a row I will be massively inspired to watch once again for more than 5 minutes.
He defended that the theory of "fun mass starts" by saying that we have to remember that it was not always Northug winning and we had like 30 people in the line.
Then I asked whether he finds sprint stages in cycling with 150 people attacking the line or the mountain ones with people finishing on their own (it's not like we often see that, but however). Still waiting for his reply.

I agree that XC compared to biathlon is a bit limited, but I do agree and think that lack of variety is slowly killing the sport. IIRC Norway tour from last year was a really great race and the key for developing the sport is stage races with many different formats inside. Like the first editions of Tour De Ski
And yet, what are the mass starts that we remember most vividly in recent years? You'll find a lot more people recall Johan Olsson disappearing with 40km left to go in Holmenkollen or Hans Christer Holund's win in Seefeld fondly or vividly than Alex Harvey in Lahti or Northug in Falun.

I agree there needs to be more variety, and the thing is there's plenty of scope for it in skiing. It's just that they think that an even balance of sprints and this nebulous concept of "distance" which applies to anything not in sprint format is a good balance.

If they want to do a time trial event on a weekday to set up a pursuit in the other technique on a weekend in place of the old skiathlon, then I'm down with that too. Biathlon has by and large decided that a way to retain the old formats is to hold those on weekdays to give the more crowd pleasing relays and head to head races (pursuit, mass start) the best TV time, maybe XC should be doing that? A 15/10 individual start on Friday, then the 15/10 pursuit on the Saturday in the opposite technique from the Friday race and then something else on Sunday would be a good idea for a weekend that could vary things. The mini-tours seem to work with a sprint, a time trial and a pursuit. Or you could mix it up and have a sprint on Friday, a genuinely long mass start race on Saturday (say a 30/20) and then a time trial over a shorter distance (10/5?) to finish the weekend on the Sunday to put some suspense into the individual start format and attract some fans to follow it.

After all, the FIS have repeatedly defended the use of the mass start over individual start by saying the German audience doesn't understand individual start. Not only have they now alienated the German audiences and the country become peripheral to the sport anyway, but the Germans of course go nuts for biathlon, which has more individual start events than XC and in fact the only format that appears at every event is in individual start!

And if you are in conversation with Patrick Winterton and he is defending the repetitious Mass Starts, it might be worth reminding him that last season at the Lillehammer relays, he was actively telling us all that it was a good thing that there was heavy snow at the start because it would mean a close race... then he spent 3/4 of the race complaining that nothing was happening and suggesting we shake up the relay format by making it shorter to give sprinters more chance because it was boring. Why was it boring? Because the heavy snow was meaning nobody could get away and it was no different to a mass start race where everybody stays together as a group.
 
Jul 8, 2017
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And yet, what are the mass starts that we remember most vividly in recent years? You'll find a lot more people recall Johan Olsson disappearing with 40km left to go in Holmenkollen or Hans Christer Holund's win in Seefeld fondly or vividly than Alex Harvey in Lahti or Northug in Falun.

I agree there needs to be more variety, and the thing is there's plenty of scope for it in skiing. It's just that they think that an even balance of sprints and this nebulous concept of "distance" which applies to anything not in sprint format is a good balance.

If they want to do a time trial event on a weekday to set up a pursuit in the other technique on a weekend in place of the old skiathlon, then I'm down with that too. Biathlon has by and large decided that a way to retain the old formats is to hold those on weekdays to give the more crowd pleasing relays and head to head races (pursuit, mass start) the best TV time, maybe XC should be doing that? A 15/10 individual start on Friday, then the 15/10 pursuit on the Saturday in the opposite technique from the Friday race and then something else on Sunday would be a good idea for a weekend that could vary things. The mini-tours seem to work with a sprint, a time trial and a pursuit. Or you could mix it up and have a sprint on Friday, a genuinely long mass start race on Saturday (say a 30/20) and then a time trial over a shorter distance (10/5?) to finish the weekend on the Sunday to put some suspense into the individual start format and attract some fans to follow it.

After all, the FIS have repeatedly defended the use of the mass start over individual start by saying the German audience doesn't understand individual start. Not only have they now alienated the German audiences and the country become peripheral to the sport anyway, but the Germans of course go nuts for biathlon, which has more individual start events than XC and in fact the only format that appears at every event is in individual start!

And if you are in conversation with Patrick Winterton and he is defending the repetitious Mass Starts, it might be worth reminding him that last season at the Lillehammer relays, he was actively telling us all that it was a good thing that there was heavy snow at the start because it would mean a close race... then he spent 3/4 of the race complaining that nothing was happening and suggesting we shake up the relay format by making it shorter to give sprinters more chance because it was boring. Why was it boring? Because the heavy snow was meaning nobody could get away and it was no different to a mass start race where everybody stays together as a group.

What are you saying is true. We remember mostly the mass starts, I particularly remember the one in 2018 when Niskanen took the gold. But mass start events are always hit and miss. Same goes to cycling. No matter how many TT's we have like the one in this year's TdF or in '89, mass starts will always be more vividly remembered for good (say Finestre stage 2005) or for bad reasons (your beloved stage 6 in the same tour).

Completely agree with the change of styles in a pursuit like race. Like it's been 20-ish years ago, but I didn't follow the sport back then. However, FIS decided to go with skiathlon without even mixing the styles. Why always finish with skate is beyond me.

I don't mind sprint events but they need but I'd say they need a bit more variety as well. Put some good climb along the course so you give a chance to the distance racers as well and we have a race. A bit like that stage from the Norwegian-Swedish tour with a "HC" climb at the end. Put it midway, so you have a chance for different tactics from different type of guys.
However, what cross country is suffering from is that quite often the best distance skier is also the best (or among the best) sprinter like Bjoergen or (to some extend Northug) , so we see complete domination in biathlon in comparison we can have a total blunder in the last shooting even from the very best
Funny thing is, despite what I said, in biathlon we tend to see a total dominator in the world cup a bit more than in XC. At least in the mens. Womens, strangely enough, because of various reasons produce less predictable battle in the biathlon than in XC.

Regarding commentators, is Patrick Winterton English version UK commentator? If so, I tend not to watch wintersports on English Eurosport as many of them are horrible. Even the ski-jumping one. Same goes to cycling, where I find them boring for majority of the race/stage,
 
Holund’s escape and subsequent victory was due to terrible Russian tactics. Bolshunov was stronger but for some reason they didn’t chase Holund. It was even more pedestrian in the main chasing pack than it was at Val Di Fiemme in 2013.
 
In my opinion Fis has to change the way the sell cross country skiing. Instead of trying to compete with biathlon they should present cross country Skiers as the endurance heroics of winter. The guys that battle against the elements and themselves. To use a comparison from Triathlon. Instead of going the olympia distance Route the should present cross country Skiern as the ironman of wi ter. Fewer races Overall, more 50km and 30km races, It can be a mix of Individual starts and mass starts. Xc skiing needs to gut oder the "we want to be live biathlon " attitude and build an own Identity.
 
Regarding commentators, is Patrick Winterton English version UK commentator? If so, I tend not to watch wintersports on English Eurosport as many of them are horrible. Even the ski-jumping one. Same goes to cycling, where I find them boring for majority of the race/stage,
Eurosport International so using the English commentary feeds. I had a silent commentary-less feed for the women's 10k though, which was an infinite improvement. I can just imagine what Winterton will have been like for a 1-2 by his beloved Americans and a win for his favourite women's skier (at least now Kikkan Randall has retired). Usually he's telling us how it's such a brilliant thing for the sport to have the Americans prominent, punctuated by Mike Dixon occasionally interjecting a "come on, Jess!" when she's attacking the great Norwegian machine. It's done more to incite me against Diggins than anything she herself has done or has any control over, to the point where I almost feel sorry for the fact I want just about anybody to beat her. They're hideously biased in favour of the US team in both sports they cover, and are huge fans of Northug and Klæbo so believe that sprints and mass start races are the recipe for excitement because it is most likely to result in the conclusion they like. Dixon is at least a bit more of a traditionalist, and defends individual races, classic technique and, in biathlon, the Individual because he feels it important to uphold some traditions of the sport, for which Winterton usually mocks him and criticises him for "never embracing change" or "standing against fun" because he likes the relay format as it is rather than Winterton's preferred 1x 5k, 1x 3k, 1x 2k, 1x 1k format "because that still gives something for the endurance skiers while letting the sprinters have their fun".

David Goldstrom on the ski jumping is less biased, but a lot more clueless.
 
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Tbf, following the biathlon format of races would do well. Something like 20k individual start, followed by a sprint, followed by a 15k pursuit would work well as one one weekend of racing. Following week then you could do a 30k mass start skiathlon, sprint and then a mixed relay. Even as a change up could do something like normal sprint race followed by a 5k sprint invididual start and then a 30k pursuit race.
 
Weren’t they planning on removing the skiathlon races from the calendar in future seasons (this also includes world champs and Olympics)?

What they need to do for the major championships is have a skiathlon, a 50km individual, 15km individual and stick with 4x10 km rather than 4x7.5. The sprints and teams sprints are ok. Two individual races shouldn’t be too much to ask for. German media can go kick rocks. They didn’t cover xc that extensively when the German teams were much more competitive 10-15 years ago either. Poland isn’t as interested in this sport now that Kowalczyk is not there. When Cologna retires, I doubt that interest in this sport will increase much in Switzerland. The American women have performed well or really well for years now. Where is the explosion of interest in the sport in the US?
 
Eurosport International so using the English commentary feeds. I had a silent commentary-less feed for the women's 10k though, which was an infinite improvement. I can just imagine what Winterton will have been like for a 1-2 by his beloved Americans and a win for his favourite women's skier (at least now Kikkan Randall has retired). Usually he's telling us how it's such a brilliant thing for the sport to have the Americans prominent, punctuated by Mike Dixon occasionally interjecting a "come on, Jess!" when she's attacking the great Norwegian machine. It's done more to incite me against Diggins than anything she herself has done or has any control over, to the point where I almost feel sorry for the fact I want just about anybody to beat her. They're hideously biased in favour of the US team in both sports they cover, and are huge fans of Northug and Klæbo so believe that sprints and mass start races are the recipe for excitement because it is most likely to result in the conclusion they like. Dixon is at least a bit more of a traditionalist, and defends individual races, classic technique and, in biathlon, the Individual because he feels it important to uphold some traditions of the sport, for which Winterton usually mocks him and criticises him for "never embracing change" or "standing against fun" because he likes the relay format as it is rather than Winterton's preferred 1x 5k, 1x 3k, 1x 2k, 1x 1k format "because that still gives something for the endurance skiers while letting the sprinters have their fun".

David Goldstrom on the ski jumping is less biased, but a lot more clueless.
I agree with everything here. It’s as if I wrote this! I can’t imagine what those guys would have been saying throughout this race and this tour, and can you imagine if Diggins wins the overall?

Dixon is a little bit less biased, but he can be annoying as well. Winterton and Goldstrom just repeat themselves ad nauseam. On top of that the bias is ridiculous and the antagonism shown towards Russia and bringing up things that were proven to be false is in extremely poor taste.
 

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