With only a few weeks left of racing across the nordic sports at each competitive level, the season is beginning to show distinct signs of drawing to a close. Most notably, Kikkan Randall (USA) won her one and only shot at [...]
In The Thick of Things Halfway Through, U.S. Men Preview – or Not – Sochi Relay Course with 10th Place
In fourth place just seconds from the front after two legs of Sunday’s 4 x 7.5 k relay, the U.S. men went on to place tenth after losing out on a photo finish with Slovakia. They appreciated the chance to preview the Olympic courses, but with dangerous crashes and complaints about the difficulty of the trails, they expect to see a different Sochi when they come back in a year’s time for the Games.
Take a multi-time World Champion, a speed demon who has improved enough on the range to win World Cups – and then add a junior racer and an Olympic gold medalist skier who recently turned biathlete. It’s not the usual formula, but it got Germany a win over Ukraine and Norway in the women’s biathlon relay in Sochi today.
Dmitry Malyshko stunned the field on the third leg of the men’s biathlon relay when he shot perfectly and skied his way from tenth place to first. With a strong anchor leg by Evgeniy Ustyugov, Russia took a big win in the competition – but journalists complained that the men weren’t doing enough for their fans.
Annelies Cook finished 18th and Susan Dunklee 25th in the World Cup sprint in Sochi, Russia today. With only three women and no team for tomorrow’s relay, the sprint and individual races were the only chances the U.S. women had to race on the Olympic course before next year; here’s what they thought.
“It’s beautiful and it’s very strange,” U.S. biathlete Annelies Cook said of the new Olympic venue in Sochi, which sits just next to the cross country trails on the slopes of a steep mountain chain. From racing to the athlete village, from unusual rules about rifles to pleasant surprises with washing machines, biathletes are learning what life will be like at next year’s Games.
Susan Dunklee placed seventh in today’s World Cup test race at the brand-new Olympic venue, while Annelies Cook skied to 14th, the best result of her career – which all bodes well for next year’s Games. But the even better news for the U.S. is that both were clean through three stages and ranked fourth and fifth, showing the promise for even better results to come. Darya Domracheva dominated the trails for a big win.
While Martin Fourcade of France joked that now he has his gold medal from Sochi, Tim Burke finished the day with important insight, too: namely, that he can ski among the fastest times on the trails that will hold Olympic competition next winter. With only one missed shot in the 20 k race, the American made the top five for the second competition in a row.
The classic races of World Championships took place in Val di Fiemme: interval start, relay, marathon. Biathletes competed in Oslo, Americans held their own in Slavic Cup action, and Swedes (and everyone else) gave it their all in the Vasaloppet. Summaries of the action, along with links to reporting and results.
Martin Fourcade seemed to have everything under control, Tim Burke seemed to be out of the picture after two penalties – how much can change in the final lap of a biathlon race. Ondrej Moravec of the Czech Republic held off Fourcade in the 15 k mass start to earn his first win, while an audacious charge past several top racers left Burke just off the podium.
With Tarjei Bø, who edged Martin Fourcade by 0.1 seconds in the sprint, still lacking fitness after a late start to the season, Fourcade skied away with the win in Oslo today. But he couldn’t have been more happy than the third-place finisher: this year’s double gold medalist at World Junior Championships, Alexandr Loginov moved up from fifth in the sprint after earning his first World Cup starts.
In the gustiest race of the year, not even four penalties could keep Tora Berger from winning her tenth race of the season – the rest of the field had many more. Darya Domracheva of Belarus, arguably her biggest rival, racked up nine, but still managed to place fifth. Instead, it was Marie Dorin Habert of France who limited her damage to two penalties and claimed runner-up honors.
Miriam Gössner of Germany got lots of attention when the biathlete finished fourth in Tuesday’s 10 k skate, just half a second from the podium – but she wasn’t alone in making the jump between sports. Friends Kaisa Makarainen of Finland and Selina Gasparin of Switzerland also acquitted themselves well, and offered light-hearted insight on the difference between the sports.
Weekly Race Roundup: Golden Americans, Historic Bronze for Harvey and NoCo, Another Birkie in the Books
Marit Bjørgen of Norway and Nikita Kriukov of Russia both have two gold medals to their names so far this Championships, and Dario Cologna finally got the title he’s been search for; but Americans made a splash too, in every discipline, with Sarah Hendrickson winning jumping, Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins the team sprint, and the nordic combined team bronze in the team event. Alex Harvey also made history when he took bronze in the classic sprint, the first individual World Champs medal for Canada.