Special thanks to Linda Ramsdell for providing translation services!
The Tour de Ski is over, the champions crowned, and the athletes are resting in preparation for the continuation of the World Cup season and the World Championships. Here are a few odds and ends from the conclusion of the Tour – information translated form Scandinavian coverage of the events.
Overall winner Virpi Kuitunen (FIN) was thrilled with her victory. She described the Final Climb course as “awful,” adding that uphill skiing is very hard for her. She has struggled with back problems and was glad to hold off teammate Saarinen for the victory. When asked how the team would celebrate, she said they had a sauna at their hotel and a “bikini party” might be in the plans.
The interviewer later asked Norweigan Petter Northug, the second place finisher in the men’s event, if he would be attending said bikini party. He said hopefully, after he attended to his obligations on the podium. The image of Northug in a bikini is an interesting one…
Northug continues to be the center of controversy. He has clashed with third-place finisher Axel Tecihmann in the past, and commented that he used this as extra motivation to catch the German on the Final Climb. Northug has become known for his less than sportsman-like quotes and cocky attitude. leading many, including Teichmann to comment that the young Norweigan star needs to learn some respect.
Norweigan Therese Johaug, who won the final stage, told an interviewer that she drank quite a bit of “coffee and cola” before the start and flew up the hill. Even after one of the most grueling ski races imaginable, she still appeared jittery and hyped up…
On a somewhat more somber note, allegations regarding Virpi Kuitunen’s involvement in doping before the 2001 World Championships have arisen. When asked by a reporter, Kuitunen responded that “she has served her punishment” and has no desire to discuss the past, going as far as covering her ears when the reporter continued to push the issue. Kuitunen served a two-year suspension after being caught, along with a number of other top Finnish skiers, using plasma expanders prior to, and during the Lahti World Championships. The new information primarily contains details of the doping procedures used, and given the Kuitunen served a suspension for those infractions, no additional penalty would be warranted.
Norweigan Marit Bjoergen, who turned what had a disastrous final day of the Tour, slipping from podium contention to tenth, will try to regain her form with an altitude training camp. Despite strong performances early in the Tour, Marit claimed she did not have an extra gear available when she looked for it.
From an interview with Norweigan Broadcasting:
Marit Bjørgen hopes altitude training can rescue the season and the year’s high point: World Championships
She looks forward to getting to Seiser Alm a month after a downward turn in the Tour with a disappointing 10th place and a body that didn’t function.
-Clearly it was very disappointing, that I can tell you, said Marit Bjørgen to NRK.
Bjørgen couldn’t get it going on Sunday and fell to 10th place after having contested the podium throughout the Tour de Ski. In a month, the team travels to Seiser Alm, at 1900 meters, for training camp.
-It has worked very well for me before, both before Val di Fiemme and Obersdorf, so I’m going to follow the same program.
Will not alter anything
Bjørgen will also not change her training plan going into the World Championships, despite the disappointment in the Tour de Ski. Even coach Egil Kristiansen was disappointed in Val di Fiemme.
-The podium slipped; I’m not completely satisfied with that, said Kristiansen.
But Kristiansen agrees that the altitude can do wonders for Bjørgen’s form going into the World Cup in February.
-It is very clear, I believe that is the medicine for Marit. Then she can relax before the World Cup, that’s the thing, concludes Kritiansen.