Nordic Skiing/Biathlon Thread

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Regarding Germany as a winter sport nation: When only 5% of the country have snow in the winter winter sports get a bit ridiculous.
5% may not seem much for Germany. That's roughly 4 Million people. But then again that's almost the population of Norway. And as Norway proves, you can certainly do very well in winter sports with this amount of people if things are well organized on that front.

However, Germany can't really complain about struggling in winter sports in general. They are usually among top 3 countries in winter olympics. It's just that their focus of attention is more on several other winter sports than XC.

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About Tour de Ski the only thing I would mention is that with the absence of Norway I would have expected Sweden's team depth to really shine through in women's side. But that's not happening, at all. Ebba Andersson is almost shockingly poor. I guess while everybody else has been in central Europe and in altitude for weeks, Sweden and Finland are really struggling having arrived there late after having skipped previous world cup races.
 
Andersson’s results have totally surprised me. Considering how good she and Karlsson have been at all Swedish races/training session time trials I though she would be leading the tour and those two would ski away from everyone. If she doesn’t ski much better in Toblach I wouldn’t be shocked if she and or the coaches decide to pull her out, and prepare for the next phase of the World Cup. It’s too bad that someone that talented with better technique is giving way to skiers like Brennan. Nepryaeva is another skier who I thought would be up there fighting for not just a podium, but the title. Maybe those two have not prepared as well the last couple of weeks. Maybe the training is still in their legs and also the altitude may be having an impact. I know that already in the summer/early fall Nepryaeva’s coach was talking about her not having an optimal start to the dry land training and that they expect her to improving as the weeks go by, but she’s not looking great at all. She missed a huge chance in Ruka when Dahlqvist and Svahn took themselves out and she couldn’t go around them. Likely that she would be leading the World Cup right now.

I do think that the Toblach races will be decisive. The Americans could extend the lead by finishing at the top in the 10km skate and could work together to keep the chasers behind in the pursuit, or the Swedes and Russians could keep it close or even finish ahead of the Americans in the skate portion and catch up in the classic race, where the two up front haven’t traditionally done as well, particularly Diggins. Then again, the classic mass start yesterday showed that they may well be up to the task.

Again, I am with Libertine on this. I’d like to see someone beside Diggins winning the tour. The praise from the Brits and the American media would be never ending.
 
As someone who watches the races on Swiss TV I don't really get the anti-Diggins sentiment, even if her antics seem a bit fake to me. The skating race in Toblach is her race, she beat the full Norge armada there a few years ago. She'll probably loose time in the classic pursuit, but Toblach is the best track for her when it comes to skating.
Can someone please tell me why they changed Alpe Cermis to a mass start?
 
As someone who watches the races on Swiss TV I don't really get the anti-Diggins sentiment, even if her antics seem a bit fake to me. The skating race in Toblach is her race, she beat the full Norge armada there a few years ago. She'll probably loose time in the classic pursuit, but Toblach is the best track for her when it comes to skating.
Can someone please tell me why they changed Alpe Cermis to a mass start?
This is the crucial kicker. Although I agree her histrionics seem a bit staged, which is a characteristic I find unappealing (see also Northug, Koukalová) Jess herself has little to do with the anti-Diggins sentiment. Not watching the International broadcast, you aren't subjected to the incessant pounding of the drum about how good it is for the sport (any such sport, as it permeates biathlon and ski jumping coverage too) to have the USA winning, and the supposedly impartial neutral commentators shouting "come on, Jess!!!" at every opportunity.

If Jess Diggins wins the Tour de Ski, the triumphalism will be unbearable, and the commentary from here until eternity, which is already throwing analysis and play by play action out of the window in favour of ongoing little-engine-that-could narratives about the great benevolent American team (she's "the ultimate fighter", don't you know), will focus entirely on it to the exclusion of what little discussion we still get of other teams (in the biathlon, a full month into the season they're still completely ignorant of the Russians having coronavirus in their camp at the test races so have been honing in on Sochi as the reason for underperformances even though the women haven't really underperformed, and the men that have have by and large been recovering from having Covid in October-November). I mean, realistically Diggins had to come into the Tour as one of the favourites anyway, as one of the strongest all-rounders on the scene with the Norwegians absent.
 
This is the crucial kicker. Although I agree her histrionics seem a bit staged, which is a characteristic I find unappealing (see also Northug, Koukalová) Jess herself has little to do with the anti-Diggins sentiment. Not watching the International broadcast, you aren't subjected to the incessant pounding of the drum about how good it is for the sport (any such sport, as it permeates biathlon and ski jumping coverage too) to have the USA winning, and the supposedly impartial neutral commentators shouting "come on, Jess!!!" at every opportunity.

If Jess Diggins wins the Tour de Ski, the triumphalism will be unbearable, and the commentary from here until eternity, which is already throwing analysis and play by play action out of the window in favour of ongoing little-engine-that-could narratives about the great benevolent American team (she's "the ultimate fighter", don't you know), will focus entirely on it to the exclusion of what little discussion we still get of other teams (in the biathlon, a full month into the season they're still completely ignorant of the Russians having coronavirus in their camp at the test races so have been honing in on Sochi as the reason for underperformances even though the women haven't really underperformed, and the men that have have by and large been recovering from having Covid in October-November). I mean, realistically Diggins had to come into the Tour as one of the favourites anyway, as one of the strongest all-rounders on the scene with the Norwegians absent.
I didn’t expect her to do as well in the classic mass start. She’s not a great classic skier, her technique is arguably the worst among the top 10 contenders. The last couple of seasons Dixon and Winterton have made excuses for her anytime she didn’t have a great race saying ‘the American skis are slipping...’ when it’s actually her technique. Your skis are fine, you just need to ski more upright when going up steeper hills, but they never mention that, they just like to make excuses for her. I too don’t like her antics and she’s also another one of these Americans that likes to mix sports and politics, without being informed.

As far as Dixon and Winterton are concerned, yes, they keep blabbing about Sochi when one, the cases are already disproven and closed, and the Russian xc and biathlon teams didn’t really have a great Olympics, only five medals in cross country and three of those came in the 50. Vylegzhanin was 4th in the skiathlon (debatable bronze for Sundby that went into Vylegzhanin’s lane), Chernousov was 5th in that race, Legkov was 11th. Ustiugov was 5th in the sprint, Petukhov was 9th, Gafarov fell in the semis, Kriukov didn’t make the semis. The 15km was their worst race, only Bessmertnykh managing a good result, finishing 7th. In comparison, a very young and inexperienced team went to 2018 and won 8 medals. Had Bolshunov changed his skis before that final lap he likely would have won the that race and then you have a much better performance by their team, 3 more medals with the same amount of golds. And what Dixon and Winterton never mention or at least ask, why didn’t skiers like Retyvikh and Ustiugov get to race in Korea?
 
This year the conditions in Val di Fiemme will probably be different than usual.
In the last 10 days there was lots of snowfall in the Trentino region, even at low altitude (a decent amount of snow even in Trento), so we probably won't see the usual really fast conditions on icy, artificial snow.
The lap in Toblach is harder than it seems in an individual start, only the first descent is fast, on all the other descents you still have to put in some work.
 
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Toblach remains Ruski territory (Kramer's training group is always training her) and Diggins is always at her best on this course.
The Germans did surprisingly well, 4 of them in the top 15 (ahead of Cologna, all the Swedish and all the Italian competitors. is really good for them and a bit of a surprise for me.
On the women's side Karlsson once against started too fast. Stadlober was fun to watch, she started really slow and got caught by Andersson really fast, but then she stayed with her until the end.
 
Rather small gaps as usual in Toblach. The American women are suprisingly strong and they Keeper Göttingen strenger. I Geuss the German men must have had super skies. Spitsov is finally back at his top Level. Bulshunov seems like he is not even going all out.
 
no sign of improvement for Nepryaeva though - on the contrary. Before the race there were reports in Russian media that an increase of muscle mass this winter may have led to problems on high altitude, but now it looks more like a general lack of shape
 
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While in the men's side there aren't really significant surprises (old-guard Manificat and Cologna are the biggest threat for Russians), I have to say there has been some upheavel among women. Skiers like Brennan and Sorina have become regular podium contenders this season. Not sure if that's the covid-19 effect or not, which has disrupted the season. But certainly some surprises, even leaving aside the fact that not all countries are competing.

USA 1-2 in the standings, while keep in mind that for example Sadie Bjornsen isn't even competing.
 
Disappointed by Karlsson but the Americans are looking very strong. At least she still have two classic distance races plus the final climb to try to recover.

Choosing the Russian team for the Worlds is going to be a nightmare, they have even more depth than the Norwegians at this point.

Bolshunov is probably going to win the Tour with a record margin and yet he looks so elegant while doing it, best skier that I have ever seen.
 
Disappointed by Karlsson but the Americans are looking very strong. At least she still have two classic distance races plus the final climb to try to recover.
at the moment it seems to be unsure if whe will even continue the Tour de Ski.

She had an accident while doing pull-ups on the door of the hotel room, and has a sore neck now...

 
I expect Bolshunov to ski off alone again. Alter that it’s anyone’s guess what will happen.

I do think that the Americans will lose at least some time today. I expect Andersson, Stupak, Parmakoski, and Sorina to bunch up and hopefully work together to bridge the gap, if not catch the two up front. It sounds like Karlsson is doing better today so she may well catch the chasing pack and help with the pursuit. I’d like to see the gaps close before the final climb.
 
This is all working rather well for Norway, really. The Russians are dominating the mens' competitions to such an extent that it will make people want to see the Norwegians back (or so the narrative will go) to break up Bolshunov's reign of terror, while the women's competitions, although much more open, are also becoming a bit repetitious thanks to the boring race calendar meaning little true variety, and the Swedes racing like they're Movistar a couple of years ago, with their best athletes taking it in turn to have good and bad spells to prevent getting in the way of the American runaway train.
 
The German men had a very good day and one or two were ok today as well. The French, apart from Manificat, Parisse and maaaaybe Lapalus can only skate ski, Gaillard is too old. The Swedes don’t have a genuine contender now, Halfvarsson has not impressed these last two seasons, Poromaa is only 20 and it’s his first season on the WC. Svensson is a sprinter, and the others are simply not competitive. Cologna can still do a good result and I think he can peak for the worlds and fight for the medals. The Finns, I hardly noticed them. The Czech men can only sprint, the Poles are like the Finns, just worse. No Canadians. No Slovakians. The Slovenians have a couple sprinters that once in a while pop a too 30 or even a top 15-20 in the sprints, but nothing in terms of distance. And of course no Norwegians. It’s hardly a surprise that the Russian men are dominating.
 
The German men had a very good day and one or two were ok today as well. The French, apart from Manificat, Parisse and maaaaybe Lapalus can only skate ski, Gaillard is too old. The Swedes don’t have a genuine contender now, Halfvarsson has not impressed these last two seasons, Poromaa is only 20 and it’s his first season on the WC. Svensson is a sprinter, and the others are simply not competitive. Cologna can still do a good result and I think he can peak for the worlds and fight for the medals. The Finns, I hardly noticed them. The Czech men can only sprint, the Poles are like the Finns, just worse. No Canadians. No Slovakians. The Slovenians have a couple sprinters that once in a while pop a too 30 or even a top 15-20 in the sprints, but nothing in terms of distance. And of course no Norwegians. It’s hardly a surprise that the Russian men are dominating.
And don't get me started on Italy, De Fabiani has really regressed over the years and when Pellegrino is actually one of your best distance skiers you're in trouble.
 
And don't get me started on Italy, De Fabiani has really regressed over the years and when Pellegrino is actually one of your best distance skiers you're in trouble.
I don’t understand what’s going on with him. The tour and mini tour should suit him quite well, his best results have come in 15km races and he has improved his sprinting over the last 2-3 seasons. He should be up there with the French, IMO. Pellegrino has had a nice tour. Of course the sprint but the distance races, in particular the 15km pursuit in Switzerland was good for him. There’s Davide Graz, he’s 20, has had good junior results and already last year made it into the top 30 of a sprint or two. I think he could be a good skier for Italy in the future. Hasn’t been spectacular so far at the tour but not bad, 35th yesterday and 25th in the Val Müstair sprint. Finished in 26th in the Davos 15km. He’s a better skate skier, but then again so are many of the Italians and Central Europeans in general.
 
Yeah, nobody seems to understand what's going on with De Fabiani, the guy wasn't that far behind Ustigov in the u20 ranks. His skating has improved and so has his sprint, but overall he has been going backwards.
I have to say that Pellegrino's technique looks pretty good, he looked smooth in the classic mass start in Val Münstair.
Graz looks like an interesting prospect, he could become the skating specialist that Italy has been lacking in the relays since Roland Clara retired.
Also, FIS and the organizers (?) did it once again, in the Men's race they shortened the lap/the whole race because a few cameras weren't working. I mean, you could just show us what's going on behind Bolshunov and the chasing group for a few minutes, but no...
 
I can't see past Linn Svahn and Bolshunov tomorrow.

I think Stupak needs to make a move tomorrow and work with the Swedes (all 3 of them) she needs every second she can get in the next two classics races against the Americans.
 
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Sweden as an entire team has been underperforming in TdS anyway, due to not having any altitude adaptation beforehand. If you want, you can add this lack of preparation to the category of "Covid-19 interruptions" we are having this season.

I think Sweden should be much better prepared for the next world cup races in Nordic countries, not to mention the world championships. Of course, pending on what happens with the covid-stuff anyway.
 

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