Nordic Skiing/Biathlon Thread

Page 237 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.
Can we get Ustigov to put some glitter on his face and pull the same stupid faces when he comes back? That would be hillarious.
Unfortunately he’s not a little kid stuck in an adult body. Also who knows when and if he’ll be back this season. He did some district races couple weeks ago and won them easily. The next races for him will be the Russian Cup next week. If he does well enough there he’ll be selected for the World Cup in Lahti and likely Falun. If he doesn’t qualify for those World Cup’s I don’t see how he’ll make it to Oberstdorf. The Russian men are strong and have depth that only the Norwegians can match. It won’t be easy for him.
 
Spitsov got his first world cup win, well deserved!
Strong team performance by the French, really bad by Cologna, beaten by Pellegrino on the climb. Pellegrino was impressive, but he's also one of the lighter sprinters without a lot of muscle mass on his frame.
Another top 10 for the Germans is also nice.
 
I apologize for focusing on Diggins so much, but did anyone notice how she was cheering loudly for Manificat and the French when they came by? When the Russians skied by, nothing. I don’t think it was because the French were underdogs. Maybe because Bjornsen married a Frenchie a year or two ago...
 
Spitsov got his first world cup win, well deserved!
Strong team performance by the French, really bad by Cologna, beaten by Pellegrino on the climb. Pellegrino was impressive, but he's also one of the lighter sprinters without a lot of muscle mass on his frame.
Another top 10 for the Germans is also nice.
Pellegrino could be a pretty good distance skier. He’s improved his technique and his endurance is much better. Pity the Italian coaches didn’t encourage/train him to ski more distance races.
 
Reactions: KZD
Pellegrino could be a pretty good distance skier. He’s improved his technique and his endurance is much better. Pity the Italian coaches didn’t encourage/train him to ski more distance races.
No idea what the Italians are doing, but overall the Italian skiing federation is a mess. I mainly know stuff about the Alpine Skiing side, but it's hard to imagine that it's better in XC skiing. Most of the good coaches work for other athletes/nations because it's all about politics and sucking it up to a few old farts who are just good at bashing athletes.
 
Unfortunately he’s not a little kid stuck in an adult body. Also who knows when and if he’ll be back this season. He did some district races couple weeks ago and won them easily. The next races for him will be the Russian Cup next week. If he does well enough there he’ll be selected for the World Cup in Lahti and likely Falun. If he doesn’t qualify for those World Cup’s I don’t see how he’ll make it to Oberstdorf. The Russian men are strong and have depth that only the Norwegians can match. It won’t be easy for him.

This is what I'd make of Russian men team in Oberstdorf:

Sprint classical: Retyvikh, Terentiev, Ustiugov (if he's ready), Maltsev/Bolshunov
30 kilometre skiathlon: Bolshunov, Spitsov, Belov, Yakimushkin
Team sprint freestyle: Bolshunov and Retyvikh
15 kilometre freestyle individual: Bolshunov, Spitsov, Yakimushkin and Ustiugov
4 × 10 kilometre relay: Chervotkin/Semikov, Belov, Spitsov/Melnichenko, Bolshunov
50 kilometre classical mass start (this one is the easiest selection): Bolshunov, Semikov, Chervotkin, Belov
 
This is what I'd make of Russian men team in Oberstdorf:

Sprint classical: Retyvikh, Terentiev, Ustiugov (if he's ready), Maltsev/Bolshunov
30 kilometre skiathlon: Bolshunov, Spitsov, Belov, Yakimushkin
Team sprint freestyle: Bolshunov and Retyvikh
15 kilometre freestyle individual: Bolshunov, Spitsov, Yakimushkin and Ustiugov
4 × 10 kilometre relay: Chervotkin/Semikov, Belov, Spitsov/Melnichenko, Bolshunov
50 kilometre classical mass start (this one is the easiest selection): Bolshunov, Semikov, Chervotkin, Belov
Not sure Maltsev will be taken for the sprint, if it was skate, maybe, but he’s a better skate skier. They have Ardashev, who did well to get to the semis in Oberstdorf last season as a 21 year old, and he dominated the 15km classic at the U23 worlds in Oberwiesenthal a month or so later.

Only one guy is clear for the sprints, and that’s Retivykh, because he is basically the only pure sprinter on that team. If the Russians are smart they will not have Bolshunov in every race. Sprint and or the sprint relay is not something he’s got a super good opportunity in, especially if Klæbo is in good form. It will also depend on how the others are skiing. The course is difficult enough to have a team made up of distance skiers that have a decent finish. In Korea Bolshunov and Spitsov finished 2nd, and there Spitsov fell asleep when Sundby increased the pace on his last lap. Also, if Ustiugov is in good form he would be a good candidate for the team sprint and the relay, and the 15km skate.
 
The mass start truly is a boring format for the final climb and makes it more dificult to make recoveries. Nice wins for Andersson and Spitsov nonetheless (glad that Diggins didn't won the stage either although she came close).

Overall the Tour was pretty boring with the boring 10/15km mass start and pursuits races rather than proper long distance racing and with Bolshunov and the Russian army dominating, not their fault of course but I actually think Bolshunov won have 'easily' won even with the Norwegians and it would have given him another meaning to his win.

With the covid surge around Europe, who know what will happen in the rest of the season but I just hope that we are going to have World Championships.
 
Jan 7, 2019
157
7
1,845
I think lack of Norwegians really highlighted how scarce top skiing is on the men's side. Bolshunov in a class of his own, a long way behind other Russians challenged by mainly old Manificat and Cologna. I think sprinters like Pellegrino and Svensson challenging top 10 positions in distance races is more of a reflection of lack of competition than anything else. On the other hand in women's competition I think Johaug's domination wasn't really missed and the field generally more diverse.

I think the big amount of mass-starts is FIS' attempt to keep the gaps close on a long tour. It's harder to open gaps in mass-starts than interval starts. Still despite that Bolshunov won by several minutes overall, which again shows the state of competition.
 
Last edited:
This is what I'd make of Russian men team in Oberstdorf:

Sprint classical: Retyvikh, Terentiev, Ustiugov (if he's ready), Maltsev/Bolshunov
30 kilometre skiathlon: Bolshunov, Spitsov, Belov, Yakimushkin
Team sprint freestyle: Bolshunov and Retyvikh
15 kilometre freestyle individual: Bolshunov, Spitsov, Yakimushkin and Ustiugov
4 × 10 kilometre relay: Chervotkin/Semikov, Belov, Spitsov/Melnichenko, Bolshunov
50 kilometre classical mass start (this one is the easiest selection): Bolshunov, Semikov, Chervotkin, Belov
I think the layout of the tracks will be a key factor for deciding on the team as well. Sadly Oberstdorf hasnt uploaded any tracks yet, at least I cant find it. The problem in Oberstorf are the loops with the long flat section. These kill any mass start races and pretty much guarantee that the 50km and the skiathlon end up in a last km sprint that favors fast guys who are strong in the flat. The only thing that can prevent this, is if they actually go up Burgstall all the way. Saddly, in the last World Cups they didnt use Burgstall or obly a section of it. So I am very sceptical about their choice of loops. Even with Burgstall the tracks suck, but when they dont even use Burgstall, it getspretty ridicilous. Just remember that Mario Kart race afwe years back.
 
Reactions: DenisMenchov
I think lack of Norwegians really highlighted how scarce top skiing is on the men's side. Bolshunov in a class of his own, a long way behind other Russians challenged by mainly old Manificat and Cologna. I think sprinters like Pellegrino and Svensson challenging top 10 positions in distance races is more of a reflection of lack of competition than anything else. On the other hand in women's competition I think Johaug's domination wasn't really missed and the field generally more diverse.

I think the big amount of mass-starts is FIS' attempt to keep the gaps close on a long tour. It's harder to open gaps in mass-starts than interval starts. Still despite that Bolshunov won by several minutes overall, which again shows the state of competition.
Well, in fairness the problem is that men's XC has been very much a battle of Norway vs. Russia, largely with Norway winning, for a long time now, as successive nations see their stars grow old and retire one by one - the Angerer/Filbrich generation for Germany, Bauer for the Czech Republic, Harvey and Kershaw for Canada, di Centa for Italy. And now we're at the stage where Cologna will go shortly, and possibly Halfvarsson too, the last remaining of that generation for Sweden. On the women's side, the Russians have not had as much success with only one or two top skiers at a time, even before the likes of Tchekaleva got stricken from the record. The vice-like grip of the Norwegians has meant there hasn't really been any major prominence for one rival nation in particular, the Swedes were turning into that, but of course their most established source of results was Stina Nilsson who's switched over to biathlon. As a result there was no fixed natural replacement as dominators when the Norwegians chose to be absent - Diggins was one of the logical choices but you had the young Swedes, Nepryaeva (Stupak is just coming back from a baby break so her form level wouldn't have been all that evident) and Pärmäkoski who could also stake a claim to that position. Obviously Diggins has been the strongest overall, but Brennan has come from nowhere of late to throw her hat in the ring as well. Pretty much everybody else is too biased in one direction or the other (Stadlober etc. too distance-biased, Lampič, Van der Graaff etc. too sprint-biased) because none of them are going to be dominant enough to win outright from specialising only in one or the other like Johaug.
 
Stina Nilson has her first IBU CUP race on thursday. I am really interested how she will do. Not all great XC skiers turned out to be top biathlon skaters. I hope she does fine, though. Would be a huge plus for the sport if she could develop into a real biathlon force.
 
So Stina Nilsson just finished her first international Biathlon race.
She finished 99th!!!
She shot 4 mistakes and only had the 54th best skating time. That is absolutely insane to be honest. She lost 1 minute on the last loop alone. Mindblowing.
Sad to say, but she seems to be done and her switch was a huge misatke. I can`t see her returning to CX skiing as well with that kind op performance, obviously.
 
Last edited:
So Stina Nilsson just finished her first international Biathlon race.
She finished 99th!!!
She shot 4 mistakes and only had the 5th best skating time. That is absolutely insane to be honest. She lost 1 minute on the last loop alone. Mindblowing.
Sad to say, but she seems to be done and her switch was a huge misatke. I can`t see her returning to CX skiing as well with that kind op performance, obviously.
Actually worse. It was 5 mistakes and the 54th best course time. Now, it's just one race, so let's give her a bit of time, after all we've seen a lot of weird results in first week of the season races at the World Cup level that have since normalised somewhat so we can probably do the same at this level, but it's really not a promising start. Difficult to know how many data points ahead of her we can take, as few are established World Cup names. Hildebrand is past her prime, Tatiana Akimova has only done a couple of international races since a baby break and Kinnunen hasn't raced internationally in about four or five years as she changes her citizenship, so there's only a few people like Nicole Gontier and Elisabeth Högberg we can use as reasonable comparative points where we have enough data to reasonably compare at the World Cup level. It looks bad, but let's see, the IBU Cup isn't televised and there might be an explanation, like if she fell or had an issue with the bindings or something.
 
Actually worse. It was 5 mistakes and the 54th best course time. Now, it's just one race, so let's give her a bit of time, after all we've seen a lot of weird results in first week of the season races at the World Cup level that have since normalised somewhat so we can probably do the same at this level, but it's really not a promising start. Difficult to know how many data points ahead of her we can take, as few are established World Cup names. Hildebrand is past her prime, Tatiana Akimova has only done a couple of international races since a baby break and Kinnunen hasn't raced internationally in about four or five years as she changes her citizenship, so there's only a few people like Nicole Gontier and Elisabeth Högberg we can use as reasonable comparative points where we have enough data to reasonably compare at the World Cup level. It looks bad, but let's see, the IBU Cup isn't televised and there might be an explanation, like if she fell or had an issue with the bindings or something.
Sorry, that was obviulsy a typo. Somehow the last digits got lost
 
Jan 7, 2019
157
7
1,845
So Stina Nilsson just finished her first international Biathlon race.
She finished 99th!!!
She shot 4 mistakes and only had the 54th best skating time. That is absolutely insane to be honest. She lost 1 minute on the last loop alone. Mindblowing.
Sad to say, but she seems to be done and her switch was a huge misatke. I can`t see her returning to CX skiing as well with that kind op performance, obviously.
Maybe Stina Nilsson is still suffering from the after-effects of her injury last winter? I remember a year ago she had to cancel her season altogether. Since then we haven't got an idea of her level as an XC skier, but certainly something is off. It may well be that that injury has effectively ended her career as a top athlete.
 
Stina went from being the best sprinter in the world and one of the top overall skiers to finishing 99th in a B league biathlon event. It’s one thing for a novice to miss targets in their first international race, but you’d expect her to easily be among the top 10 in ski time in such a field. 54th is embarrassing. Maybe she hasn’t trained enough or simply not smart enough? Sweden has some of the most relaxed Corona rules in place so it can’t be because of restrictions. I don’t see how she’ll all of a sudden leapfrog that many people AND then leapfrog just as many if they take her to the WC.
 
Denise Herrmann won her first IBU Cup race back in 2016 missing 3+3, because she put over a minute into everyone on the course. That's a huge difference. Sachenbacher-Stehle didn't had such a dream start into competitive biathlon, but her course times were also top level, when she started in IBU Cup races.
 
Denise's first race was a bit of an anomaly with insane wind conditions though, so it's worth noting that although some IBU Cup veterans on 9/10 are up there, Katharina Innerhofer was also on the podium with 4 misses and 19-year-old Karoline Erdal was in the flowers with 3 misses. In her second race she was 3rd with 3 misses, but only 2 seconds ahead of Iana Bondar who also missed 3, because she lost a lot of time in the range with her slow shooting drills as she adapted (the winner was a teenage Markéta Davidová, also at her first IBU Cup meet, for the record). So while her tenure on the IBU Cup was short-lived and she did outski everybody, her winning with 4/10 is only half the story.
 
It just tells you how generally weak the ski speed is at both the ibu cup and World Cup. Herrmann was never really close to the podium in any distance race on the xc World Cup and only had three sprint World Cup podiums, all in one season, 2013/2014. And since she got on the WC biathlon circuit she’s consistently been one of the fastest on the tracks.
 
You seem fixated on this interpretation that the speed in biathlon is super low, you've gone to this as a default argument several times. Denise Herrmann has some days when she's peerless, but she has other days when she really isn't all that exciting a skier. Did you watch the Mixed Relay last week, when Svetlana Mironova skied around her like she was a mobile chicane on the final lap of her leg and then put 10 seconds into her in under 2km? Her career average course time rank is 4,45, and this season she is a clear step slower than she has been the last two seasons (the Mass Start two days ago was her first fastest course time all season). She also dramatically improved her skiing performance after her first year in biathlon, presumably after putting the majority of her focus onto learning to shoot in the first season. Is she a more competitive skier among biathletes than she would be among cross-country skiers? Of course she is. The top skiers in XC have no reason to do biathlon, but in countries that don't have the budget supremacy of Norway, Sweden and Russia, if you aren't the very top tier, you can win on a good day in biathlon, you can top out at about 7th in XC. And that is borne out by the difference in the number of flags at the business end of biathlon compared to XC where, outside of the major championships, the relays - probably the most popular discipline in biathlon - are all but dead because all the talent is concentrated into 2-3 countries and the others don't see the value in trying to compete with that. But the belief that any reasonably good cross-country skier could demolish the biathlon ranks with 7/10 is outmoded. Denise herself has a career total of 79% - nearly an average 8/10 - and she isn't destroying the field. She's 11th in the Cup standings this year, has been 12th, 8th and 3rd in her 3 full seasons, and has 7 individual wins in 88 starts. She scores a top 10 in just over a third of her races, but she misses the top 40 10% of the time. She has set the best course time in around 30% of those races, so if you compare to her XC days, it compares fairly well to the amount of the time she spent between 6th and 15th in World Cup events. She was also especially good in the Team Sprint, which is probably the most comparable to biathlon in terms of its physical demands, in that it is several short stints of racing with brief respites in the middle. Until this season, her ski performances as a biathlete were actually improving year on year, how much of that is influenced by retirements of strong skiers of yesteryear like Kuzmina and Domracheva is open to interpretation, but like with Clare Egan last year, the further we get from her active XC days, the less accurate they are as a comparison point for her current ability as a skier. If you remember, you were comparing Clare Egan's mediocre NCAA skiing records with her 2019-20 IBU World Cup skiing record to say that it was evidence of the low quality of skiing in biathlon - and yet, Clare had already been skiing at a very mediocre level in biathlon for three years at that point, and made a sudden and enormous improvement in her ski speed that season, such that her NCAA records ceased to be a viable data point for suggesting where her level as an XC skier would be in 2019-20.

It's not the Forsberg days anymore when a strong skier could miss 3 and still win easy, and while there aren't any of the biathletes that could legit challenge the best of the best in XC anymore (would that we could have seen Neuner or Domracheva at their peaks in the XC field). Miriam Gössner is a great example to point to here, because she perfectly fits the mould needed to test the "top XC skiers would win everything with 7/10" hypothesis that we've seen. Her career hit rate is 69%, and she has the best XC performances of a biathlete in recent memory, scoring 4th in the World Championships in Val di Fiemme, missing a medal by half a second. She scored 9 consecutive best course times in 2012-13, was in top 3 ski times in all but 4 races (one of which was 4th fastest) and only won 3 races all season to finish 9th in the World Cup. The depth of the women's field in biathlon (as biathletes, not as skiers, as we've seen a lot of the strongest skiers retire in recent seasons) is significantly better than that in cross-country right now where sure, the top names are going to crush the best biathletes, but once you get past the top 10-15 there's a huge and significant drop-off and you aren't going to convince me that, say, Markéta Davidová can't do any better than the Czechs in the women's XC World Cup right now. There are some decidedly mediocre skiers out there who could get a lower end top 20 in XC World Cups even when the Norwegians were competing, and remember that biathletes don't train classic and carry extra weight when skiing. Plus, don't discount the motivational factor that hitting targets and knowing you're in with a shout of winning a race can give you, compared to if you're just an anonymous face in a large pack being dropped by Therese Johaug and never seen by the camera again every distance race. The "shooting-biased" World Cup contenders are a step up in competitiveness skiing-wise than they were previously now, not such that they would be top XC competitors (remember, they're not trying to be), but such that the difference in pace between the likes of Eckhoff and Herrmann and that of the likes of Öberg and Wierer is markedly less than it was when Uschi Disl was competing.
 
Last edited:

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS