Nordic Skiing/Biathlon Thread

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Mäki just is not ready, this is what could be expected. Lindholm did better than I thought.

Seemed to me Ustjugov was not too unhappy just following. Instead, I got the impression he wanted to test himself against Kläbo in the sprint, and did not do badly either. As to why, who knows. Perhaps he lacks top end form too as bulls22 suggested.

Edit: Karlsson appears to have closed the gap to johaug or more - on the first day of racing. But judging by Ruka and today, when races are back-to-back, her advantage relative to others tends to diminish a bit. I was expecting her to drop the others in the relay.
 
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Well, Russia was a lot closer to Norway than one could expect after yesterdsays race. So that is at least a promising sign.
Pellegrino sking well today is also a very pleasant suprise. I think no one expected the Italians to be the best nation after the big two. So maybe there is more to come.
Maybe the Italians both want to do the Tour, so they opted for a slower season start? They should be better now that they are part of the Cramer training group...
 
Stepanova is a junior world champion over 5km freestyle which is exactly what this anchor leg was for her, but outsmarting Fossesholm like that in Norway is a statement of intent, I thought they'd struggle to stay with the depth of Norway I and Sweden I on the skate legs with Stupak and Nepryaeva both used in classic. Sorina hadn't looked at her best so far this season so I thought Johaug and Andersson would probably tail her off by a few seconds leaving Stepanova in no-man's land, but they kept everything together and that was a great finish she had on her.
 
As Mayo mentioned, the course just isn’t tough enough. There’s a lot of flat and places where you can catch up some time by staying calm and letting the skis run. I am surprised with the Russian women winning, particularly as none of them have had a great start to the season, but I am not shocked. When it’s head to head they are all up to it. As Libertine said, this is Stepanova’s sort of race, lots of gliding, it’s only 5km and she’s a dogged competitor. You saw that last season at World Juniors and yesterday as well, where she skied the same as Johaug and Karlsson in the last kilometer or so, passing a number of high quality skiers to finish 17th. The key for the Russians is to not over train her and have her do to many races prior to the Olympics. Also the high altitude is a question mark, as it will be for all the skiers, if we’re to be honest.
 
Stephanova's style also looks great, lots of gliding.
Maybe Norway shoul have swapped Heidi Weng's and Fossesholm's position. The former has a better sprint while Fossesholm's classic skiing looks really smooth
I´d prefer Norways set up in the opposite way of today. Fossesholm first, Johaug on the second leg and Tiril Weng on the last leg. I don't think Fossesholm is a good choice as a finisher, but she might do some damage on a first leg. I expect that Russia, Norway and Sweden will experiment a bit before the Olympics and maybe keep some cards close to their chests. There are still some unanswered questions in the Norwegian team, such as: Østbergs comeback attempt as well as there are some who might be on the verge of a breakthrough.
 
I´d prefer Norways set up in the opposite way of today. Fossesholm first, Johaug on the second leg and Tiril Weng on the last leg. I don't think Fossesholm is a good choice as a finisher, but she might do some damage on a first leg. I expect that Russia, Norway and Sweden will experiment a bit before the Olympics and maybe keep some cards close to their chests. There are still some unanswered questions in the Norwegian team, such as: Østbergs comeback attempt as well as there are some who might be on the verge of a breakthrough.
Fossesholm is definitely better in skate, if not much better in skate. If you want to make changes to the lineup, put Johaug on the second classic leg and hope that she can break up the field. Keep one of the Weng twins in the scramble leg or Falla if she’s in good form. Fossesholm in third, and Heidi Weng as the anchor leg.

The Russians pretty much have their olympic quartet, just depends if they’ll make changes in the order. Stupak is their best skier at altitude, and putting her on one the classic legs is likely a must, even though she can sprint very well at the end of a distance race. Nepryaeva is also a bit better in classic than skate so keeping her as a classic leg skier wouldn’t be a mistake. Sorina may end up being the unknown quantity come February. She’s a decent sprinter but she needs to have a high pace from at least the halfway point in the last leg to give them a good chance. Stepanova, without a whole lot of experience, is tough to say what she can do at a major championship and at altitude and a tougher course.

Swedes have to irreplaceable skiers, Andersson and Karlsson, putting them in the middle legs is absolutely the right move. Question is will they put a sprinter on the first or last leg or two very good sprinters at both legs? Not having Svahn or Sundling is a huge loss, IMO. Will Kalla really be able to improve her form to medal winning potential in two months? Doesn’t look like it at the moment. If you put someone like Dahlqvist or Hägström in the relay it’s a high risk, high reward sort of deal, if they can keep with the leaders and show their sprint abilities it could be very good for the Swedes. Again, altitude will be a big factor. Neither of those two ski particularly well at higher altitude.

I was surprised to see the Carl fade that badly on the last leg for the Germans. She did start fast to try and catch the leaders, then paid the price. The Finish women shouldn’t be overlooked for the Olympics, especially with Pärmäkoski in that lineup, and with Niskanen in better form.
 
Emma Ribom won the junior Vasaloppet, so she makes a lot of sense on leg 1 in that respect in that she ought to be a bit better at distance in classic than most sprinters will be. If she doesn't regress significantly to the mean and the pace of the last two weekends is legit, however, would they consider as a wildcard drafting in Elvira Öberg? We've seen biathletes and even in the USA's case Nordic Combined skiers drafted in before, not so much for a while, but with the women's legs only being 5k, might it be a gamble worth taking? The only problem there is that it would give you two skate legs without a capable sprint finish, as Elvira isn't much of a finisher even in the biathlon field, and Ebba Andersson is one of the worst sprinters in the entire field. I don't see any other relevant such entrants, maybe the French or the Czechs may consider drafting in Braisaz or Davidová but they aren't going to be realistic medal contenders and with the extensive biathlon program they would be unlikely to transfer over anyway, especially in Davidová's case with the Czech medal hopes being so heavily reliant on her. Germany would probably be best served with Hennig on leg 2 rather than 1, having her on a Classic leg makes sense, but while she did a fair amount of damage on leg 1, they were then in damage limitation mode for the ensuing three legs.
 
Emma Ribom won the junior Vasaloppet, so she makes a lot of sense on leg 1 in that respect in that she ought to be a bit better at distance in classic than most sprinters will be. If she doesn't regress significantly to the mean and the pace of the last two weekends is legit, however, would they consider as a wildcard drafting in Elvira Öberg? We've seen biathletes and even in the USA's case Nordic Combined skiers drafted in before, not so much for a while, but with the women's legs only being 5k, might it be a gamble worth taking? The only problem there is that it would give you two skate legs without a capable sprint finish, as Elvira isn't much of a finisher even in the biathlon field, and Ebba Andersson is one of the worst sprinters in the entire field. I don't see any other relevant such entrants, maybe the French or the Czechs may consider drafting in Braisaz or Davidová but they aren't going to be realistic medal contenders and with the extensive biathlon program they would be unlikely to transfer over anyway, especially in Davidová's case with the Czech medal hopes being so heavily reliant on her. Germany would probably be best served with Hennig on leg 2 rather than 1, having her on a Classic leg makes sense, but while she did a fair amount of damage on leg 1, they were then in damage limitation mode for the ensuing three legs.
If Sweden goes for a Biathlon wildcard they should probably convince Stina Nilsson to come back for one more relay.
 
In fairness to Kühn though, he's always been pretty quick, but his poor shooting and the well established core of the German team with Schempp, Peiffer, Lesser, Doll usually left him in the less desirable start pots. He's a very good skier, but essentially for most of his career he's been a poor man's Benedikt Doll, less able to get it together than Doll and more of a liability in the relays and four shoot races. Last year he was really bad, his shooting was no better than usual but his skiing was far below his normal level. That meant he started the season on the IBU Cup and he's therefore likely to have been peaking at season's start to get himself back into the World Cup. The Germans operate a strict policy of your position in the World Cup determining priority for picking start pots, so his good races last week meant he got to pick his own start time rather than deal with what was left over, plus judging by Nawrath's killer last lap too there's a chance the Germans just got the ski prep right, they do tend to go well at Hochfilzen.

A good comparable for Kühn I guess would be Julian Eberhard, who also had his first win at a fairly advanced age due to historically having poor shooting.
 
In fairness to Kühn though, he's always been pretty quick, but his poor shooting and the well established core of the German team with Schempp, Peiffer, Lesser, Doll usually left him in the less desirable start pots. He's a very good skier, but essentially for most of his career he's been a poor man's Benedikt Doll, less able to get it together than Doll and more of a liability in the relays and four shoot races. Last year he was really bad, his shooting was no better than usual but his skiing was far below his normal level. That meant he started the season on the IBU Cup and he's therefore likely to have been peaking at season's start to get himself back into the World Cup. The Germans operate a strict policy of your position in the World Cup determining priority for picking start pots, so his good races last week meant he got to pick his own start time rather than deal with what was left over, plus judging by Nawrath's killer last lap too there's a chance the Germans just got the ski prep right, they do tend to go well at Hochfilzen.

A good comparable for Kühn I guess would be Julian Eberhard, who also had his first win at a fairly advanced age due to historically having poor shooting.
Tbf to Kühn, he was held back on skiing last year due to recovery from an injury in the first part of that season. Never reached his best skiing level I think. Good to see him back to his fast self this winter, although its indeed quite a big improvement.
 
I am starting to think that a Frenchman (Jacquelin or Fillon Maillet) will win the biathlon World Cup this season, they were really dominant today, Samuelsson is still a bit too inconsistent with his shooting and the main Norwegians, especially Johannes Boe continue strangely far from their best

As for the cross-country world cup does anyone know why Bolshunov didn't start today? He is now around 150 points behind Klæbo that won again in dominant fashion. The good news for Russia is that Ustiugov was amazing today, getting second ahead of Jouve and Valnes so he might also contest for the World Cup overall. In the women, Dahlqvist continues her dominance in the sprint, this time breaking the Swiss hearts.
 
I am starting to think that a Frenchman (Jacquelin or Fillon Maillet) will win the biathlon World Cup this season, they were really dominant today, Samuelsson is still a bit too inconsistent with his shooting and the main Norwegians, especially Johannes Boe continue strangely far from their best

As for the cross-country world cup does anyone know why Bolshunov didn't start today? He is now around 150 points behind Klæbo that won again in dominant fashion. The good news for Russia is that Ustiugov was amazing today, getting second ahead of Jouve and Valnes so he might also contest for the World Cup overall. In the women, Dahlqvist continues her dominance in the sprint, this time breaking the Swiss hearts.
Bolshunov caught a cold and didn’t want to risk anything today. He’ll likely miss tomorrow’s race as well.

Ustiugov skied well and he’s form is rising, but he’s still way behind where he was at his peak a few years ago. He doesn’t look as snappy as he needs to be. His skis also weren’t that impressive. The Norwegians rarely have less than optimal skis.
 
Klæbo now getting a podium in an individual distance skate race, at altitude. I’ve seen it all now. Thanks to Ustiugov for saving us from a 1-6 Norwegian sweep. I can only hope that the Norwegians are peaking too early, and/or the Russians and the rest of the ‘contenders’ are not there yet.
 
Well total Norwegian domination again. Ustiogov the only bright spark for the rest.
Well, let`s see what happens now and who will actually do the TDS now.
Besides the altitude we had pretty Norwegian conditions today, but freaking Klaebo being so good in a skating race at altitude is a surprise. Krüger has always been the specialist for skating races at altitude (mainly Switzerland and Toblach) among the Norge mafia, so him beimg clearly the best is no surprise.

I say Ustiugov has earned his start in both the Sprint and the Skiathlon at the Olympics, maybe also Relay and 50km skating.
For the team sprint I'd rest both him and Bolshunov in favour of the 2 specialists (Terentev and Retivykh)
 
Besides the altitude we had pretty Norwegian conditions today, but freaking Klaebo being so good in a skating race at altitude is a surprise. Krüger has always been the specialist for skating races at altitude (mainly Switzerland and Toblach) among the Norge mafia, so him beimg clearly the best is no surprise.

I say Ustiugov has earned his start in both the Sprint and the Skiathlon at the Olympics, maybe also Relay and 50km skating.
For the team sprint I'd rest both him and Bolshunov in favour of the 2 specialists (Terentev and Retivykh)

Well, with current results, I don't Retivykh will make it to the Olympics. Plus the hard course, I think they'll need to put in either Bolshunov or Ustiugov or have those two as a team. Bolshunov, I think, whether he's in form or not, would be well advised not to do the individual sprint. He's got no shot in winning that race. He would need to focus on the skiathlon and 15km classic. Ustiugov will certainly race the sprint if he's healthy, but the skiathlon, that's a tough call. They have to prioritize and not have two or three people doing every race. Maybe because of the limit of having 8 men and 8 women, the Russians will prioritize distance races, so taking only one pure sprinter like Terentjev. Of course the naming of the teams will come a month or a bit less before the Olympics start, and in that month a lot of things can change. That's the beauty of nailing your form for the major championships and TDS. I read that Ustiugov said that if may not race the TDS, and if he does, he won't do all the stages. That's smart, IMO.
 
Well, with current results, I don't Retivykh will make it to the Olympics. Plus the hard course, I think they'll need to put in either Bolshunov or Ustiugov or have those two as a team. Bolshunov, I think, whether he's in form or not, would be well advised not to do the individual sprint. He's got no shot in winning that race. He would need to focus on the skiathlon and 15km classic. Ustiugov will certainly race the sprint if he's healthy, but the skiathlon, that's a tough call. They have to prioritize and not have two or three people doing every race. Maybe because of the limit of having 8 men and 8 women, the Russians will prioritize distance races, so taking only one pure sprinter like Terentjev. Of course the naming of the teams will come a month or a bit less before the Olympics start, and in that month a lot of things can change. That's the beauty of nailing your form for the major championships and TDS. I read that Ustiugov said that if may not race the TDS, and if he does, he won't do all the stages. That's smart, IMO.
From the Russians guys like Maltsev and Spitsov who'll only race 1 or 2 races at the Olympics are the only ones who should race the whole Tour.
 

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