Masters World Cup 2004: Day 2
The weather warmed up for today's skate races at World Masters in
Lillehammer, Norway. Yesterdays's temperatures just before start were close
to -20 Celsius (below zero F), so today's (Monday's) 30 degrees felt balmy.
The format for the World Masters competitions is a bit unique. For each
distance, the participants must choose which technique to race in. For
example, in the men's youngest age groups, about 50% of the age group skiers
raced the 30km in classical technique yesterday, while the other half raced
in skating technique today. In this way, you never really know who your
competitors will be until you go to the startline. Each race is in a
mass-start format, and each age group starts 10 minutes apart.
In today's middle distance skate races (15 or 30km, depending on age group),
Sun Valley's Jon Engen captured the day's only US gold medal in the M4
class,with a winning time of 1.19.15. John outsprinted his main competitor
with 50 meters to go.
Other medal winners were Murray Banks in the M6 class in third place with a
time of 1.24.06, Muffy Ritz – third in the F4 class with a time of 45.39.2
(15 km), Ingrid Butts – second in the F3 class with a time of 44.51.7, Susan
Holway – second on the F5 class (52.24.4), Ann Mize – second in the F6 class
with a time of 52.35.0 and Tom Gibbons – second in the M11 class with a time
of 1.23.41 (15 km).
In the fastest age group of the day, the M3 class, John Aalberg ended up in
5th place with the time of 1.16.57, followed by David Maclean in 9th place
and Milan Biac in 15th place.
Norwigian skiers dominated yesterday's classic races, but it was a different
story in today's skate races.
Russian skiers showed “bear strength” and captured more than half of the
gold's while Norway only colected one (gold). It's like a mirror image of
the Norwegian World Cup skiers results – very good in classic and solid but
not great in skating.
Well, it's probably good (for the competition) that Thomas Alsgaard and
Bjorn Daehlie (still) don't look at themselves as master skiers.
It of course also reflects the fact that most of Norway's citizen and
mass-start races are still held in the classic style.
Maybe some of the US race organizers of mass-start events should consider
alternating between skating and classic from year to year? It might help US
skiers maintain or improve their classic skills.
Tomorrow's races are the shortest of the week (10 km), with both techniques
held on the same day.