A nice interval start competition in Nove Mesto gave us new excitement for the overall fight.
Axel Teichmann is definitely back again after a small mistake in the sprint in the streets of Prague. In tomorrow’s sprint course in the forest outside of Nove Mesto I think he will make it to the finals and on Saturday there are 45 bonus seconds to fight for in the 20 km mass start event. But with only one minute to separate the ten best, everything is still open in the overall fight. Rotchev, Cologna, Rønning and Nordthug are all able to win 60 bonus seconds in tomorrow’s sprint.
Thinking of the World Ski Championships in Liberec, it is also interesting to register that the old men such as Jaak Mae and Andrus Veerpalu have started moving again, 4th and 9th today. I am not surprised if they will be among the medal candidates for the 15k in Liberec. Lukas Bauer is performing well but thinking about the overall fight, we should be happy that he is not so outstanding as last year.
Kuitunen skied amazingly well again, winning by 37 seconds. She might look unbeatable in the moment, but we know she has an unstable back, and who has forgotten Kalla’s attack on Alpe Cermis last year. It looks like the Final Climb this year will be a fight between the Finns, Bjørgen and Follis.
But no one can afford to do as Sami Jauhojärvi today who obviously missed the kick wax.
Lack of snow forced the organizers to use a 3.3 km instead of the old 5 km, as planned. The many laps made it a little bit confusing to follow the race on TV, and I guess a longer loop would have given Teichmann a few seconds more: in fact, Rotchev should pay Teichmann a New Year’s beer tonight after being lucky to ski 4 laps on his back skis. ‘
On this last day of the year let me wish Cross-Country friends all over the world a Happy New Year. Special thanks to all the volunteers all over the world on every level who keep our sport going. Without your work, would we have no heroes, no Tour de Ski and no World Ski Championships.
I look forward to the first fights in Val di Fiemme and to all the exciting competitions coming up in 2009.