Nordic Skiing/Biathlon Thread

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According to Finnish media, the Russians have been sparing their best high-fluor glide waxes for Oberstdorf. In the skiathlon yesterday, they used the 4th best glide wax. That's why they have had issues with the skis in Lahti.

Moreover, Mäki did nothing wrong according to the rule book but the athletics stadium in Lahti doesn't really work for modern skiing.
Wrong. When you are in the finishing straight you are supposed to stay in your lane unless overtaking someone. Bolshunov was trying to overtake Mäki, Mäki knew that and he moved over to block Bolshunov.
 
I woun´t deny that every nation might push the limits to gain an advantage. The Norwegians are competitive and combative and they are not better or worse than any of the other nations in this regard. The few Norwegians that witnessed the incident yesterday says it was Bolshunov himself who made a mistake in the downhill and if anything he was the one who cut of Hollund. Now that is word against word. But I find that much more probable than any of the Norwegians sacrificing their own chances in a race of minor importance for the Norwegians for anything else than the internal struggle of getting a place on the World Champs team. It would actually have been more believable if any of them internally took out a stronger team-mate. The only outspoken tactics against Bolshunov from the Norwegian team is to use the numbers to have one break away and let Bolshunov chase him down. They didn't even do much of that yesterday since they all seemed most focused on their internal fight.
They did that. First it was Holund then it was Røthe. 5 against 1 and it took a crash for them to beat Bolshunov, plus superior skis. Things will change in Oberstdorf. Bolshunov will have recovered from the TDS by then and hopefully they won’t botch the wax and skis.
 
Bolshunov shouldn't have acted the way he did but let's focusing in the skiing aspect. As was already mentioned they didn't had goid skis especially in skating but there are some worrying signs. Spitsov is far from his Tour de Ski shape and others are not much better. Furthermore, Ustiugov is not in good shape as well and unless he improves soon, he will be out of the World Championships.

Iversen is looking quite dangerous for the skiathlon in the World Championships and Fosseholm could scare Johaug in the World Championships like Karlsson did two years ago.
 
Oct 18, 2016
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Wrong. When you are in the finishing straight you are supposed to stay in your lane unless overtaking someone. Bolshunov was trying to overtake Mäki, Mäki knew that and he moved over to block Bolshunov.
The experts at NRK, YLE and FIS all agree that Mäki was ahead and had a right to choose whichever corridor he wanted for the finishing straight. I agree with you that what Mäki did was unsportsmanlike, but it was within the rules. FWIW, Mäki didn't even get a verbal warning.
 
They did that. First it was Holund then it was Røthe. 5 against 1 and it took a crash for them to beat Bolshunov, plus superior skis. Things will change in Oberstdorf. Bolshunov will have recovered from the TDS by then and hopefully they won’t botch the wax and skis.
Yes, Holund and Røthe tried to break away, but it looked more like a test than full on team strategy to get a win. In the final parts of the race it was every man for himself and no team tactics. Today Maki shouldn't have chosen the lane that Bolshunov clearly was heading into, but he had every right to do so and broke no rules. Bolshunovs reaction is just crazy. Luckily no-one got injured by his actions. It is ok to get emotional, but not violent.
 
The experts at NRK, YLE and FIS all agree that Mäki was ahead and had a right to choose whichever corridor he wanted for the finishing straight. I agree with you that what Mäki did was unsportsmanlike, but it was within the rules. FWIW, Mäki didn't even get a verbal warning.
Well of course the ‘experts’ on NRK and especially YLE would say that. I don’t really take the FIS jury very seriously. It was evident after they first relegated Lampič in the Val Müstair sprint and then when she was reinstated they still gave her a yellow for what? She never touched the Swiss.
 
To me it doesn't look like Maki doesn't do anything illegal. He takes his lane and sure it was the same lane Bolshunov was going into but that was Makis right, not Bolshunov. Maki is into that lane well before the lane markings.

Bolshunov should get a ban imo. The swipe was worth the DQ but then the intentional barge into him after is ban worthy imo.
 
No ban it looks like. Just the DQ from the race. The big question in terms of the world’s, if Bolshunov gets provoked by a no name Finn, how will he deal with predictable Klæbo antics and gamesmanship? Should have tried to ski away instead of playing cat and mouse. Considering that Ustiugov just came back to racing and his form may not be optimal to contend for medals, they’ll need to put Bolshunov on the final leg, unless they think they can ski away from the Norwegians earlier, which I can’t see happening at the moment.
 
Norwegians will win with Klaebo back unless the likes of Belov and Spitsov were holding things back. Not sure who takes the other leg for them, or who takes the Norwegian legs (I'll assume Klaebo and Roethe are in but Holund, Kruger, Golberg and Iversen are all challengers) so unless the Russians are on a good day with good skis, I think Bolshunov will be 30 seconds off Klaebo when they start.
 
Bolshunov trying to hit another athlete with his pole and then attacking him on the skis... Not that we haven't seen slightly violent behavior before from some of the Norwegians or Russians, but this is just in the absurd realm. Too bad it does not look like he will receive a ban.

This is one of many reasons why I prefer biathlon to XC skiing. In biathlon you do not see this kind of aggressive behavior and hostility towards opponents. XC skiers seem almost primitive in comparison (and to be fair it is a more simple sport, so perhaps that is not so strange).

Wasn't there talk about Bolshunov considering the switch to biathlon?
 
Bolshunov trying to hit another athlete with his pole and then attacking him on the skis... Not that we haven't seen slightly violent behavior before from some of the Norwegians or Russians, but this is just in the absurd realm. Too bad it does not look like he will receive a ban.

This is one of many reasons why I prefer biathlon to XC skiing. In biathlon you do not see this kind of aggressive behavior and hostility towards opponents. XC skiers seem almost primitive in comparison (and to be fair it is a more simple sport, so perhaps that is not so strange).

Wasn't there talk about Bolshunov considering the switch to biathlon?
Oh yes you do.
View: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YjiMyVyjLu8


View: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CvCCO9TzFdc
 
Not sure who takes the other leg for them, or who takes the Norwegian legs (I'll assume Klaebo and Roethe are in but Holund, Kruger, Golberg and Iversen are all challengers) so unless the Russians are on a good day with good skis, I think Bolshunov will be 30 seconds off Klaebo when they start.
Things may change but put Klæbo on the last leg and you have the most likely Norwegian team. The coach was very clear before the start that this was a test before the world championships and he would have put Iversen on the last leg if the goal was just to have the best possible result today.
 
Oct 18, 2016
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According to Finnish media (if the translate does not fool me), there is a criminal report of offence filed against Bolshunov to the police for assault. Sounds like private citizens with nothing to do with ski federation etc. Maki's hand apparently not fractured, but still swollen.
Yeah, according to some Finnish media Mäki's hand got hurt by the tip of the pole when Bolshunov hit him, not by the tackle after the finish line. Mäki himself doesn't know what happened, it all happened too fast.

The police report is irrelevant, done by some random citizen. The police will most likely conclude that it was (at most) minor assault, but unless Mäki wants to press charges, which he isn't going to do, nothing will happen. If it for some weird reason were assault, which it isn't going to be as Mäki wasn't really injured, then the prosecutor can press charges without Mäki.
 
Things may change but put Klæbo on the last leg and you have the most likely Norwegian team. The coach was very clear before the start that this was a test before the world championships and he would have put Iversen on the last leg if the goal was just to have the best possible result today.
Most likely, although if Golberg or Iversen show a lack of form in the skiathlon or Roethe in the individual freestyle and someone else looks excellent, could see it change. They have the depth to change it if needed.

I'd imagine Russian legs are sorted bar maybe leg 1 who could be anyone. I'd assume Belov, Spitsov as guaranteed like Bolshunov
 
Mathias Fredriksson’s analysis/take:

I sort of agree on Fredriksson, what Maki did on going to the outer lane was not nice and some might also say unethical, but this is not the first or last time when athlete takes all advantages allowed by the rules. Everyone does it. So the question is not about Maki's manouver, the question is why does the rules allow it.

In any case, Bolshunov's reaction was not cool whatever Maki's manouver was, such act of violence should never be tolerable.
 
Mäki clearly and blatantly obstructed Bolshunov. The course design gave him the opportunity to do so, because he could sweep around that final corner forcing Bolshunov to go the long way round (which he did) and then make a beeline for the right-hand lane as long as Bolshunov couldn't accelerate so hard around the outside of the final corner that he passed Mäki (which would be nigh on impossible), and to make it into his 'chosen' lane (which would in most cases be the most disadvantageous, as the distance is longest) before the lanes are marked means having to swing very wide quite dramatically which exaggerates the swing from one side to the other and makes it more of a cutting-off move (this is also one of the reasons I'm against marked 'lanes' in sprints in cycling, as it will just move the problem back to the lane entries rather than the line, and if somebody is fighting to find a space, they have less time to get to the lane they're after and will therefore have to either accept a minor position behind another sprinter or veer wildly to find an unoccupied lane). So while he has plausible deniability, it's clearly a move which is designed with obstruction in mind. At the same time, he did succeed in making it to the right hand lane before the markers, which means the move is not illegal (ironically, if he did it less dramatically and more safely, it would have been obstruction!).

As a thought, if I recall correctly the Biathlon World Cup spent a few years in Lahti in the mid 2000s, and because of the needs of biathlon, the athletes had to come clockwise through the stadium, so the range was opposite the crowd. As a result, the athletes would arrive in the stadium on the side the XC finish is, and travel in the opposite direction to the XC, with the finish at the opposite end of the athletics stadium (so at the start of the 100m, not the finish, in athletics configuration). This is probably hard to achieve without a temporary bridge either into or out of the stadium in XC, because obviously the biathletes will stop for a while in the stadium to shoot rather than looping back on themselves immediately, but that 180º corner and short run to the line seems to be proving increasingly problematic in Lahti in recent years. At least no sprint competitions were scheduled there this year, I recall some demolition derbies going on in icy conditions a couple of years ago.
 
Jan 24, 2021
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Mäki clearly and blatantly obstructed Bolshunov. The course design gave him the opportunity to do so, because he could sweep around that final corner forcing Bolshunov to go the long way round (which he did) and then make a beeline for the right-hand lane as long as Bolshunov couldn't accelerate so hard around the outside of the final corner that he passed Mäki (which would be nigh on impossible), and to make it into his 'chosen' lane (which would in most cases be the most disadvantageous, as the distance is longest) before the lanes are marked means having to swing very wide quite dramatically which exaggerates the swing from one side to the other and makes it more of a cutting-off move (this is also one of the reasons I'm against marked 'lanes' in sprints in cycling, as it will just move the problem back to the lane entries rather than the line, and if somebody is fighting to find a space, they have less time to get to the lane they're after and will therefore have to either accept a minor position behind another sprinter or veer wildly to find an unoccupied lane). So while he has plausible deniability, it's clearly a move which is designed with obstruction in mind. At the same time, he did succeed in making it to the right hand lane before the markers, which means the move is not illegal (ironically, if he did it less dramatically and more safely, it would have been obstruction!).

As a thought, if I recall correctly the Biathlon World Cup spent a few years in Lahti in the mid 2000s, and because of the needs of biathlon, the athletes had to come clockwise through the stadium, so the range was opposite the crowd. As a result, the athletes would arrive in the stadium on the side the XC finish is, and travel in the opposite direction to the XC, with the finish at the opposite end of the athletics stadium (so at the start of the 100m, not the finish, in athletics configuration). This is probably hard to achieve without a temporary bridge either into or out of the stadium in XC, because obviously the biathletes will stop for a while in the stadium to shoot rather than looping back on themselves immediately, but that 180º corner and short run to the line seems to be proving increasingly problematic in Lahti in recent years. At least no sprint competitions were scheduled there this year, I recall some demolition derbies going on in icy conditions a couple of years ago.
This.
Clear and obvious obstruction.
Unfortunately not illegal enough to disqualify as he was ahead and thus by rule had the right to "choose" corridor first.
Maybe rules need to be changed.
This "corridor" rule was of course meant to remedy obstruction by changing lanes, which it does I suppose, but when corridors are so short as they are in Lahti, what happens directly prior means more...
Dated/bad course design..

Police complaint is a joke.
From what I have seen Bolshunov will not get suspended either.
Also good.
He shouldn't have hit out of course, and the tackle was especially unneccecary/borderline nasty, but they got DQed and lost their prize money.
More than enough penalty in my book.
 
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Most likely, although if Golberg or Iversen show a lack of form in the skiathlon or Roethe in the individual freestyle and someone else looks excellent, could see it change. They have the depth to change it if needed.

I'd imagine Russian legs are sorted bar maybe leg 1 who could be anyone. I'd assume Belov, Spitsov as guaranteed like Bolshunov
Perhaps Krüger will be snubbed again, as he was 2 years ago, didn’t get to race the skiathlon or the relay. Iversen and Klæbo were taken for the skiathlon. And instead of Sundby (who took the second leg in Seefeld) it’ll likely be Golberg, which means Iversen for leg 1, Golberg 2, Røthe 3 and Klæbo 4. Maybe Iversen and Golberg swap places, maybe Holund is figured in, or Krüger, but I think that’s the most likely quarter at the moment, even with over a month to go before the relay.

The Russians have the same problem. Bolshunov like Klæbo is a shoe in, but after that who knows. On a pure talent level, I’d put Belov, Bolshunov, Spitsov and Ustiugov as the anchor. If fit and with optimal glide, they are more than capable of beating whatever team the Norwegians come up with.
 
Bolshunov’s reaction was not acceptable. I would have been ok with it if Mäki did that to him before the finish line, to warrant that, but it seemed everything was clean and normal head to head racing. The maneuver should have been penalized, no doubt. The fact that he didn’t even get a verbal warning is worrisome.
 
Thing is, though, there was no reason not to do it for Joni. Finland I weren't expected to be up there and nobody had given him a prayer against Bolshunov. Russia II were far enough behind that the podium was assured. Mäki doesn't have a yellow card against his name. So at worst they get relegated and he gets a card. And if they get relegated, well, they get the 3rd that everybody and their mothers expected them to get from the moment Ustiugov was dropped anyway. I can understand why Bolshunov was angry, but he just cannot respond like that. However, if you're Joni Mäki, if you can get in that right hand lane before the start of the lane markers, why the hell wouldn't you do it? If he sticks to an inside lane and takes Bolshunov to a clean and noble sprint duel, he will lose the vast majority of the time. If he goes to an outside lane and can't make the block within the rules, he gets relegated but only to the same position as if he'd sprinted and lost. And if he goes to an outside lane and makes the block within the rules, Bolshunov has to go the long way round the hairpin, then slow down, THEN accelerate in the sprint.

In a longer run from the 180º corner to the line, Bolshunov can choose to go deeper into the corner to set up for the line with a straighter line and make it hard for Mäki to know which side he's coming from. But on the Lahti configuration, Bolshunov's only hope is to try to swing around the outside, which means Mäki knows which side he's going to be on and can make that cut-off move. Similar to how Pidhrushna used the slight chicane of the Ruhpolding course to her advantage a few years ago, waiting for Dahlmeier to commit to the inside line before easing into the same lane to cut the German off - which Dahlmeier was angered by at the time, but after seeing a replay the Germans all agreed Pidhrushna had simply outsmarted them and the course design meant they thought the Ukrainian had closed the door on them when she hadn't.
 
Jan 7, 2019
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It's perhaps a bit early to distribute the relay legs (apart from Kläbo taking leg 4). Both Norway and Russia have easily at least 6 skiers, who can fit well into the relay team on their day. It will be a tough choice for both nations. And will be most likely decided based on the results at the world championships. For example you can't justify leaving out someone, who wins/podiums in skiathlon or 15 km. And we still have to wait and see, what Falun individual races bring. However, it does look like it's curtains for Ustiugov for this season. On this form he can't make it even into Russia's world cup team, let alone WCH team, where the national quota is smaller anyway.

Norway is in the same way spoilt for choice in men's biathlon, where they have 6 skiers, who can regularly compete for top 10 positions. Looks like Christiansen/Bjöntegaard may not get any races in WCH at all, unless one of the top 4 men in the world cup flops completely in sprint and pursuit, which of course can't be ruled out.

In women's competition it looks a bit more straightforward for the relay. TU.Weng, Johaug, Fossesholm, H.Weng for Norway with perhaps leg 1 being open here. Kalla, Karlsson, Andersson, Svahn for Sweden, with again perhaps leg 1 being open. I thought Kalla was completely out of it due to covid, but seems like she is firmly back in contention now.
 

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