Less than a week after the conclusion of the pre-Olympic World Cups in Whistler, Canada, the World Cup continues in Otepaa, Estonia. Skiers will race a 10/15km classic individual start. US sprinter Kikkan Randall will be the lone North American starter. In Kikkan’s only other World Cup distance start this season, she finished a career-best 23rd.
The field looks to be stronger than in Whistler, with 51 women competing, including a full contingent of Norweigans and Finns. 65 men are scheduled to start, with the notable absence of the Italian team. The Italians traveled to Canada in full force. In fact, a casual scan of the start list reveals only a couple of racers who participated in Whistler. On the men’s side the Frecnh appear to be the only team to be racing again this weekend.
Justyna Kowalczyk (POL), seemingly always ready to race, will start in Estonia after a strong performance in Whistler, including the victory in the pursuit competition. Whistler sprint winner Alena Prochazkova (SLK) will also race, as well as the Swedes, and of course Randall.
Racing continues on Sunday with an individual classic sprint. The full contingent of US World Cup sprinters will take part – Andy Newell, Torin Koos, Chris Cook, and Kikkan Randall. No Canadians are entered in the distance classic event. Start lists for the sprint have not been released yet.
Top American distance skier Kris Freeman has returned home to train and prepare for World Championships. He is scheduled to race the 50km class Craftsbury Marathon in Craftsbury, Vermont next weekend.
US World Cup coach Justin Wadsworth reports that conditions in Otepaa are good, with much more snow than in past years. Waxing could be a challenge on Sunday with temperatures predicted at close to 32 F with a good chance of snow or sleet. Wadsworth notes that all athletes are healthy and feeling strong.