Lahti, Finland – Alexander Legkov (RUS) won his second career World Cup, beating Italian Pietro Piller Cottrer by 7.5 seconds. Christian Hoffman (AUT) was third.
The 25-year old Legkov was first at every checkpoint en route to the victory.
“I’m really happy about today’s success,” said Legkov. “It was a great race and I gave my all. Liberec was not so good for me but now I am back and would like to fight for other podiums in Falun.”
Piller Cottrer is gunning for the overall World Cup distance title. He currently holds a 53 point lead on Dario Cologna (SUI).
“It was a great race and a nice fight between me and Alexander. I had good skis and I like the course. I was here in Lahti for the first time in 1995 – a long time ago – but it there always a nice audience here that cheers for everybody!
“I will next race the 50 km in Trondheim if my coaches agree, and then I’m looking forward to the World Cup final. My goal is the distance World Cup.”
Hoffman, with only three World Cup starts prior to today, showed strong form. He had been focused on the 50k in Liberec, but finished 25th.
“I’m in good shape,” said Hoffman. “In Liberec it did not work out in the 50km ,but today it was perfect. I’m satisfied with my first podium in this season and hope that I can be as good in Falun. I will skip Trondheim as I am not so good in the classical technique.”
The US was led by Garrott Kuzzy in 62nd, +2:20. The performance was Kuzzy’s second-best World Cup distance result as measured by FIS points.
Leif Zimmerman and Chris Cook finished 71st and 72nd respectively, with just 2 seconds separating the pair. Colin Rodgers rounded out the US racers in 87th.
The Canadian team struggled with top skiers Ivan Babikov and Devon Kershaw in 37th and 42nd. George Grey was 46th, Alex Harvey 50th, and Dave Nighbor 82nd.
Men’s 15km Freestyle – Complete Results
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Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.
March 9, 2009 at 7:49 am
I think it’s high time the US journalists took a more realistic look at our results on the international circuit. I understand positive thinking, happy talk and all that sort of thing. But when it gets so misleading to the general public that it promotes complacency, it’s probably doing more harm than good for the program.
In the article above we note that Kuzzy has scored his second-best FIS points while finishing 62nd, leading our team. We had three other placings; 71st, 72nd and 87th out of 92 racers. Meanwhile, the Canadians, who placed four in the top 50, “struggled.” Would that we had four in the top 50! Or that we “struggled.”
To best measure the strength of the US Team it’s helpful to look at the relay results at the recently held World Championships in the Czech Republic. All the countries value this event very highly because it takes the effort of four good skiers to do well. In the men’s 4×10 Relay, the US finished 13th, or last of the teams that completed the course. Australia and Great Britain started, but did not finish. In the women’s 4×5, the US finished in 14th, beating out Estonia, who finished last.
There are two good things to talk about regarding these relay results. We entered two teams, something that did not happen at the last FIS. Next, the skiers and the coaches got a good glimpse of the depth of other countries’ teams and one hopes they will take measures to close the gaps.
March 9, 2009 at 8:46 am
Obviously both teams struggle with day in and day out consistency. However it’s also obvious that both teams continue to improve. Picking on the journalist who put together this report based on their choice of wording seems a little tedious at this point. As far as relay results go, so far it’s clear that both Canada and the U.S. have yet to prioritize these events as much as maximizing individual results when the opportunity exists. You can take fault with this approach if you want, but we’ve been down this road before and beaten this horse over and over. Relay results simply aren’t the priority right now. You say, “To best measure the strength of the US Team it’s helpful to look at the relay results…..” If the US Team doesn’t care about the relays, how is that helpful to measure the strength of the team by looking at the relays? That makes no sense at all.
March 9, 2009 at 5:11 pm
I would disagree with the first commenter that the article is “unrealistic.” The Canadian results were disappointing because Kershaw and Babikov both routinely ski in the top 30, and are very capable of consistent top-10 results. Babikov won a World Cup this year (Final Climb of the Tour de Ski) and Kershaw finished on the podium. I’m sure neither athlete is satisfied with their results.
In terms of the American skiers, there is nothing wrong with recognizing a strong personal race. With Kris Freeman on the shelf, the US does not have any male distance skiers who can compete at the highest level. That is no secret, and I know the coaches and athletes are not satisfied with results in the 60’s. That said, Garrot Kuzzy deserves to be recognized for posting a strong race based on his current ability. That is realistic reporting. My goal is to try to put results in context. For Aino Kaisa Saarinen, finishing 17th would be a disappointment, for Liz Stephen, it is a great result.
If you look at past World Cup coverage you will see top 30 results by some of the US World Cup athletes portrayed in a more negative light. A 25th for Andy Newell is not a success as he is gunning for the podium in every race. Again, realistic reporting.
I also agree with Mike that using a relay as a measure of success is flawed. It does not take into account that the US has had some incredible results in the sprints of late and in individual distance races, including Kikkan Randall’s medal at Worlds, qualifying three men for the heats this weekend in Lahti, despite a stacked field, and Kris Freeman’s 4th place in Liberec. The relay does not capture any of this.
The relay is an exciting event, but only of many. I doubt the Slovenian program looks at itself as failing because they are not able to field a competitive relay team – I would guess they are quite happy having the overall World Cup leader for women, and another athlete who skis in the top 10 in sprint races.
The US team is currently stronger than any since 2002, and if you look at medal potential, it may be one of the best ever. There are currently four athletes on the team who could be on the podium in a World Cup race. That is impressive and exciting.
The US coaches and athletes I have spoken to have never sugarcoated the lack of top distance skiers, and are working very hard to change this. The results of Morgan Arritola and Liz Stephen are a good sign, and the women potentially have a solid relay team if someone steps it up in the fourth spot.
Looking at a single race (the relay at World Championships) is not a good way to measure the strength of a program, and certainly does not provide enough information to draw any meaningful conclusions.
It is also a disservice to the US program to suggest that athletes and coaches needed the poor relay placings in Liberec to see the depth of other teams, and motivate them to close the gap. Any casual ski fan is aware of the gap and the lack of depth at the World Cup level, and while methodology is certainly always open for discussion, there is certainly no lack of effort on the part of the US Ski Team.