Nordic Skiing/Biathlon Thread

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I very much doubt it. She has been ok in fits and bursts at the World Cup (top 10 ski time in the Hochfilzen sprint, for example) but her shooting is even worse than it was before, because she's been unable to practice for most of the summer because she couldn't lie prone in shooting position or twist her back. She had to withdraw from Annecy telling the coaches that under no conditions would she want to start, because the pain was too great. Perhaps they should have started her off in the IBU Cup, to keep too many prying eyes off her as she nurses her way back to health, but now I think it does nobody any good to relegate her to that during the Olympic build-up. It also seems that while her initial recovery was faster than anticipated, and she could get on to the skis and start training much sooner than expected, they (both her and the DSV) appear to have timetabled everything from that and have projected expectations that were perhaps a bit too optimistic.

It's especially sad when you look back to the press conference from the women's relay in Sochi last year when she was asked about the course and she was very excited and positive about the Olympics, saying she loved the course as it had a lot of steep and difficult climbs and technical descents, and it was very suited to her. Still, she will still only be the same age at Pyeongchang that Kaisa Mäkäräinen was when she won her first World Cup race, so there's plenty of time for her - but if she isn't able to recover fully from this injury, I fear she may always be a "what could have been?"-athlete.

The injury to Marie Dorin-Habert and her race against time to be healthy for the Olympics is also another interesting story. She looked so strong in the pre-season events and with several big names electing to miss events I really thought she could have competed for the World Cup overall, and certainly finally get that career win she's owed. Initially it seemed like it was just an ankle sprain, but it seems like it's far more and unfortunately I now fear that she may not even be in Sochi, let alone competing on the level she should be.
 
Libertine Seguros said:
Right now,
Snipped to save precious electrons from a cruel death....
I think the Germans are going through a generational change in XC. The younger men are further along than the younger women, but the talent is there. The thing with biathlon is that you really need to be a good skier. You can learn to shoot in a few years, but skiing, no way. So some of those who feels more succes on the skiing part, might gravitate more to XC.

As the argument about the audience, I think television people have a tendency to think the audience are idiots, and need to make things understandable for the idiots. This seems to be a general problem, and not just related to sports.:( I suspect it has something to do with how polling is conducted and drawing too many simplistic "truths" out of the limited data available.

On the mass starts, Olsson showed the way. I see a lot of guys thinking they can do the same if they have a good day.

The courses consist of several smaller loops so that the spectators can see the skiers more often. It could also have other benefits I don't know about like cost of TV production or something.

For long races you could watch the ski classics series, they don't have any loops at all.

As for the Sprints, they mean less this year. In the Kuusamo and Falun tours, the winner of the sprint only gets 30 points instead of 60. And in the Tour de Ski there is only one sprint yelding 60 points this year instead of 2 sprints giving 120 points last year. So the sprint in these events have halved in importance.

As for more generally, I don't think you can assume all the sprints could have been distance races, more likely there would be no/fewer races instead due to the physical demands of a distance race. But I think the sprints are going to be tougher in the future since fis don't seem to want a seperate group of specialist sprinters, they want to cater more to the allrounders.

Biathlon is very good in the presentation bit, but I think they also are a more nimble organization. Also with FIS there might be differing priorities based on the personalities involved. Some might have no interest in XC and be totally focused on alpine etc, so fiscaly it might be difficult.

Then again the presentation of XC is miles ahead of anything the UCI or aso have, so it's not like it's bad, it's just not as good as biathlon.;)
 
My point in referring to Preuss and Hinz's only picking up a rifle a few years into their development was more to point out the loss of talented skiers from XC to biathlon in Germany. You talk of strong skiers gravitating towards XC but it doesn't seem to be happening - just see the tug of love over Gössner, who could certainly have been competitive in XC but who prefers to do biathlon, much like Lars Berger before her.

I understand the reason for the shorter loops - better for the fans, and probably requires fewer cameras and can give the audience a better view of what's going on. But the same could be said of short circuit races instead of tough point to point races in cycling. There are positives and negatives to the move.

Maybe the FIS should have a separate bunch of specialist sprinters, then the REAL skiers can skip the sprints and get on with their job. Thankfully the depth of competition and longer distance races among the men mean it's not that huge a problem much of the time, but among the women, with short races proliferating, it would seem there's little reason for any aspiring skier to want to be a traditional skier like Steira when they could be a powerhouse like Randall, and that makes me sad.

Edit: there are 11 sprint events this season. The only World Cup event that does not have a sprint is Lillehammer, which has already passed. That's just disgusting and a total waste of a good winter season. Have the one in Stockholm, it's a change of pace. Have the one at the Olympics. Have the one at Kuusamo as a prologue type early season event. But for the love of god, how many of these do we have to endure? Awful. Just awful.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Besides reducing the number of sprints they should also make sure that the sprint really is a sprint. "Sprints" that last about 4 minutes are way too long and it the pure sprinters are out of it before the last fight begins and we get almost the same results as we would get with 10k, Marit wins and Justyna comes in second. I'd like to see 1k all flat to see who's the fastest.
 
Libertine Seguros said:
My point in referring to Preuss and Hinz's only picking up a rifle a few years into their development was more to point out the loss of talented skiers from XC to biathlon in Germany. You talk of strong skiers gravitating towards XC but it doesn't seem to be happening - just see the tug of love over Gössner, who could certainly have been competitive in XC but who prefers to do biathlon, much like Lars Berger before her.

I understand the reason for the shorter loops - better for the fans, and probably requires fewer cameras and can give the audience a better view of what's going on. But the same could be said of short circuit races instead of tough point to point races in cycling. There are positives and negatives to the move.

Maybe the FIS should have a separate bunch of specialist sprinters, then the REAL skiers can skip the sprints and get on with their job. Thankfully the depth of competition and longer distance races among the men mean it's not that huge a problem much of the time, but among the women, with short races proliferating, it would seem there's little reason for any aspiring skier to want to be a traditional skier like Steira when they could be a powerhouse like Randall, and that makes me sad.

Edit: there are 11 sprint events this season. The only World Cup event that does not have a sprint is Lillehammer, which has already passed. That's just disgusting and a total waste of a good winter season. Have the one in Stockholm, it's a change of pace. Have the one at the Olympics. Have the one at Kuusamo as a prologue type early season event. But for the love of god, how many of these do we have to endure? Awful. Just awful.

I take a more long term view of skier developement. Gøssner and Berger are examples of that not happening, but who knows what some 16 year old German talent decides to do when he/she can't get the shooting right?

I think most of the sprinters are developing into stronger distance skiers. Randall as an example has become quite competitive in the distance races. But as an early stage in development focusing on sprinting while you build up your stamina is a good path to development.

There are a few specialist sprinters on the mens side, while the women have very few specialists.
 
ToreBear said:
I take a more long term view of skier developement. Gøssner and Berger are examples of that not happening, but who knows what some 16 year old German talent decides to do when he/she can't get the shooting right?
But then the problem comes that the strongest athletes are still choosing biathlon, and those that go to XC would become effectively failed biathletes. Obviously Gössner, when she didn't make the 2009-10 biathlon team, spent a year in XC, and could more than reasonably have stayed there if it hadn't been for the mass retirements on the German team at the time. If Beck, Hauswald and Wilhelm hadn't all retired together, she may have been in XC for another couple of years, and then been successful enough not to want to drop it to return to biathlon. That situation is unlikely to arise at present because the German team does not have that established core of athletes at the pinnacle of the sport at present; Henkel will be gone next year, and beyond her (and Evi), there is a big generational gap though, thanks to Neuner's retirement and there being few of her age and slightly older who got extended runs in the team early on in the heydays of the prior generation.
I think most of the sprinters are developing into stronger distance skiers. Randall as an example has become quite competitive in the distance races. But as an early stage in development focusing on sprinting while you build up your stamina is a good path to development.

There are a few specialist sprinters on the mens side, while the women have very few specialists.
But because there are few specialists on the women's side, the sprint results skew the World Cup far more. The women's "distance races" aren't long enough, and if sprinters are competing for the win, that's all the evidence of that you could need. The amount of races a powerhouse like Randall can't be competitive in are small in comparison to the amount of races a more classic skier like Steira can't be competitive in, which is the wrong state of affairs. Muscle-bound sprint specialists are the outliers, not the traditional distance athletes.
 
Libertine Seguros said:
But then the problem comes that the strongest athletes are still choosing biathlon, and those that go to XC would become effectively failed biathletes. Obviously Gössner, when she didn't make the 2009-10 biathlon team, spent a year in XC, and could more than reasonably have stayed there if it hadn't been for the mass retirements on the German team at the time. If Beck, Hauswald and Wilhelm hadn't all retired together, she may have been in XC for another couple of years, and then been successful enough not to want to drop it to return to biathlon. That situation is unlikely to arise at present because the German team does not have that established core of athletes at the pinnacle of the sport at present; Henkel will be gone next year, and beyond her (and Evi), there is a big generational gap though, thanks to Neuner's retirement and there being few of her age and slightly older who got extended runs in the team early on in the heydays of the prior generation.

But because there are few specialists on the women's side, the sprint results skew the World Cup far more. The women's "distance races" aren't long enough, and if sprinters are competing for the win, that's all the evidence of that you could need. The amount of races a powerhouse like Randall can't be competitive in are small in comparison to the amount of races a more classic skier like Steira can't be competitive in, which is the wrong state of affairs. Muscle-bound sprint specialists are the outliers, not the traditional distance athletes.
I'm thinking more of those who are poor shooters. As long as they are good skiers they are good enough for XC. IMHO biathlon is not who is the physically strongest, it's who is physically strongest and can shoot straight 10 seconds after stopping at the shooting range.


I'm not so sure about muscles being a detriment on long distance. It depends a lot on the technique you employ. Take Vibeke Skofterud, she won Vasaloppet over 90k and she has plenty of muscles. Johaug has become more muscular due to working on improving her technique. That is worth it over longer distances. The most important thing is the right muscles of course.

As for Steira, she is competitive in both techniques, but is not very explosive. She does have her own specialty in being good at altitude and snowy conditions, so Sochi looks perfect for her.
 
ToreBear said:
I'm thinking more of those who are poor shooters. As long as they are good skiers they are good enough for XC. IMHO biathlon is not who is the physically strongest, it's who is physically strongest and can shoot straight 10 seconds after stopping at the shooting range.
Of course, and the strongest skiers among biathletes can certainly be competitive in the XC ranks, as we know from Berger, Gössner, Mäkäräinen et al. A pity we've not had the chance to see Neuner or Domracheva there, and Fourcade has only had the one go, in the pre-season race a couple of seasons ago. But we were talking cross-purposes, because I was talking about the tendency for German young competitors to pick up the rifle because of the sport's position in the country, naming talented skiers who picked up the rifle and became biathletes some way into their development such as Preuss and Hinz as examples. Biathlon has much more draw to the Germans, so much so that even athletes who could be competitive at the elite level of XC and are unreliable at best with the rifle (early career Neuner, 2011-vintage Gössner) are only interested in XC as a fall-back option if biathlon doesn't work. And as at present the German team is in transition, there's less chance of the biathlon not working (as in the past a stronger German team meant fewer opportunities), so the XC pickings are slim.

I'm not so sure about muscles being a detriment on long distance. It depends a lot on the technique you employ. Take Vibeke Skofterud, she won Vasaloppet over 90k and she has plenty of muscles. Johaug has become more muscular due to working on improving her technique. That is worth it over longer distances. The most important thing is the right muscles of course.

As for Steira, she is competitive in both techniques, but is not very explosive. She does have her own specialty in being good at altitude and snowy conditions, so Sochi looks perfect for her.
I wasn't really thinking about comparing skate and classic, more comparing somebody who is at their best in the longest races vs. somebody who is at their best in the shortest. Imo a World Cup where a Randall can finish higher than Steira is badly balanced, at least Randall until the last 12 months or so as she's become more all-round.
 
Libertine Seguros said:
Of course, and the strongest skiers among biathletes can certainly be competitive in the XC ranks, as we know from Berger, Gössner, Mäkäräinen et al. A pity we've not had the chance to see Neuner or Domracheva there, and Fourcade has only had the one go, in the pre-season race a couple of seasons ago. But we were talking cross-purposes, because I was talking about the tendency for German young competitors to pick up the rifle because of the sport's position in the country, naming talented skiers who picked up the rifle and became biathletes some way into their development such as Preuss and Hinz as examples. Biathlon has much more draw to the Germans, so much so that even athletes who could be competitive at the elite level of XC and are unreliable at best with the rifle (early career Neuner, 2011-vintage Gössner) are only interested in XC as a fall-back option if biathlon doesn't work. And as at present the German team is in transition, there's less chance of the biathlon not working (as in the past a stronger German team meant fewer opportunities), so the XC pickings are slim.


I wasn't really thinking about comparing skate and classic, more comparing somebody who is at their best in the longest races vs. somebody who is at their best in the shortest. Imo a World Cup where a Randall can finish higher than Steira is badly balanced, at least Randall until the last 12 months or so as she's become more all-round.
Fourcade would have to be in the shape of his life to keep up in XC. He is good, but if you compare him to Berger or Bjørndalen in their prime, he doesnt have the same ski speed. One might argue that it is because he rides tactically better for his shooting. About Neuner and Domracheva, I can only agree. They were generally more than 5% faster than the median biathlete in skiing in the previous seasons, so should be interesting to see Domracheva give it a try.
 
Sep 25, 2009
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^^^
discussing 'pure' xc skiers vs the biathlon skiers is certainly valid and fun, but sorry folks for stating the obvious, it is pointless in the real world...

there are many multisports, particularly in the endurance sports category, where the most victorious individuals while being at least equal in their raw talent, will have no chance if forced to compete against the very best in the particular discipline...

the reasons are obvious and are common sense. the competitive demands of a multisport training routines impose certain impediments that make a multiathlete slower...

take the sport of triathlon for instance - the long version like the ironman - against the very best in the marathon.

the best ironman triathletes run a marathon habitually in the 2:30 plus/minus in competition which is likely to translate into a 2:20-2:25 without the swim and the bike. but their upper body and the excessive musculature of their lower bodies will NEVER produce a 2:10 typical of a the efficient world class north african.

same with any proven champion xc skier like northug, kowalchik etc vs. domracheva, neuner, fourrcade, gössner, shipulin etc

a champion bi-athlete, while perhaps equal in endurance talent has to train differently, such as fewer hours just skate skiing focusing on different courses where stop and go fineness is so different from the demands of pure xc skiing.

there is ALWAYS a compromise a, a sacrifice, a multiathlete has to make...this confuses the issue somewhat for me.

this is the reason i never had much passion for seriously following multisports, while i do enjoy watching them occasionally...
 
You are right you big snake you.;)

Anyway the Norwegian Tour de Ski squad was announced today.

Kvinner
Marit Bjørgen
Ingvild Flugstad Østberg
Therese Johaug
Astrid Jacobsen
Heidi Weng
Vibeke Skofterud
Kristin Størmer Steira

My favorite is the same as last year, Heidi Weng. Last year on the final climb she said she was so nervous about the final climb because everyone talked so much about it. So she took it slowly, then found out too late that it wasn't that hard at all, and had more gas in the tank at the finish line.:D

It will also be interesting to see how Skofterud is progressing. So far she has not had a good start.

With Justyna being totally out of it in freestyle, it looks set for the first Norwegian Tour de ski victory ever.

But Kalla, seems to have found herself lately, so she also might be in for another win. Then of course there are the Americans and Finns who might show something.

Menn
Martin Johnsrud Sundby
Pål Golberg
Finn Hågen Krogh
Sjur Røthe
Chris Jespersen
Petter Northug
Tord Asle Gjerdalen
Niklas Dyrhaug
Didrik Tønseth

I'm really interested in how Jespersen performs, he usually loses his form in January. If he has finally found out how to keep his form, he might get a ticket to Sochi.

Dyrhaug, has had a lot of bad luck, so it will be interesting to see how his form is progressing.

With Tønseth the question is if his back holds up.

Northug should start slowly then begin to get into form at the end of the race, instead of loosing it at the end like last year and the year before IIRC.

I'm not sure who the favorites are for the men, I know it's not Cologna, since he is injured.
 
Sep 25, 2009
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what an enjoyable sprint it was !

cologna's little bro impressed me the most with his 2 perfectly timed solo breakaways...too bad he did not have much left in the final against the sprint grandmaster like kriukov who seems in a class of his own. an additional point for nikita - he's a rare russian who has personality.

i sure would prefer a real classic sprint to a double-polling slug fest, oh well, but i'll take what i can :D btw, i'm sure if it was a true classic sprint with steeper hills and less wetness, i have no doubt that poltoranin would win.
 
python said:
a champion bi-athlete, while perhaps equal in endurance talent has to train differently, such as fewer hours just skate skiing focusing on different courses where stop and go fineness is so different from the demands of pure xc skiing.

there is ALWAYS a compromise a, a sacrifice, a multiathlete has to make...this confuses the issue somewhat for me.

this is the reason i never had much passion for seriously following multisports, while i do enjoy watching them occasionally...
But yet several athletes from biathlon are competitive in xc, Lars Berger is world champion in both individual and relay, Gössner was only seconds from a xc medal last year (while she wasn't even close to her peak) and Bjørndalen has won a world cup event in XC.
 
Very unique type of sprint. Normally i don't like classic sprints that can be done by arms only. This one was actually pretty good, though. 4 minutes + of pure effort. Very hard sprint. My old Kindergarten mate Wenzl came in 11th. Should be enough to qualify for Sotchi.
 
Sep 25, 2009
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as an avid xc ski fan longing for the action i agree with bavarianrider and jsem...cancelling one of the truly selective stages in terms of the overall competition for a sprint is a bummer.

yet, if i was a competitor (or his coach) who risked the tds as a preparation platform for sotchi's distance races , i'd be happy as any sprint, however intense in the individual 3-4 minute duration (even if sustained to a final), is NOT going to tax/overexert compared to a true all out distance race.

lego and his swiss coach are rejoicing as i write...they know - the last day mt uphill itt will be enough of a challenge where alex will likely get the overall regardless...plus he can claim that his choice of taking part in the tds, unlike virtually all main competitors, was right in terms of having enough time to recover before the olympics.
 
Can they not counter by replacing the later planned sprint with a proper race instead?

I mean, now we have: prologue, sprint, sprint, distance race, short race, hillclimb.

It's a bit like ASO took over. "Give the sprinters loads of fun! Backload! Put the only mountain at the end!"
 

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