The course was the same one they have used in previous years with only one major hill right followed by the downhill run out into the home straight. It was another chilly affair on the sprint course as many of the athletes has buffs stretch around their necks. The first corner out of the stadium saw many precarious times during the race with a couple casualties to skis and poles getting tangled up. The fields were staggeringly weak and it showed with the lack of spectators in the grandstand. At the end of the day, it was a first World Cup victory for Slovenian Vesna Fabjan while the Russia men headlined the story on the men’s side.
The quarter finals proved the lack of quality in the field as the heats were strung out by the top of the big climb. The inexperienced Russians usually had the pack strung out before the top of the hill. The final saw he best on the day fight it out, but by far the strongest skier on the day who deservedly took the victory.
Fabjan led all her heats from gun to tape and made it look rather easy. I must say that it was writing on the wall. Fabjan specializes in the freestyle sprints and has start to show up on the results list over the past year-and-a-half. With a fellow country-woman in Majdic to push you in training, I expect the young Slovenian to continue to roll out results like this in years to come. Definitely a dangerous sprint relay duo for the future to challenge the likes of the Scandinavian countries.
1. Vesna Fabjan
2. Majda Genuin
3. Justyna Kowalczyk
The lack of depth in the field was clearly illustrated in the quarters in the second heat. No disrespect to Tim Tsharnke, but he was able to ski back into the heat after he fell out of the gates and qualify second to go through to the semis.
The first semi saw Morilov take the win with an impressive ski from Wenzl to out-duel the Italians for second place. Petukhov and Zorzi pushed the pace in the second semi which meant that both the lucky losers were drawn from the same heat in the form of Kriukov and Devjatiarov.
With four Russians in the final, it seemed almost inevitable that a Russian victory was imminent. The final was dominated by the Russians which ensured a sweep of the podium. It appeared that Zorzi had a medal in the bag, but his old-man strength couldn’t stave off the late charging Kruikov. The Russians took all three podium places to the delight of the crowd. Ironically, the 1-2-3 spots just so happened to be in the same position they qualified in, which is a rarity for sprinting.
1. Nikolay Morilov
2. Alexey Petukhov
3. Nikita Kruikov
Canada Watch: Canada had two qualifiers today: Crooks and McMurtry. Unfortunately, Crooks got tangled with von Allmen in his final and hit the ground about 10 seconds into his heat and was never able to recover. McMurtry had the similar fate as he was in fourth place coming into the big hill. He kicked it in a turbo to try to break the Russian wall and seemed to trip over himself; subsequently taking out Bolotov in the process.
Rybinsk Pursuits Preview
Today will see the second of three races in Rybinsk and just when you thought the start lists couldn’t get any smaller they go and do the impossible…25 women and 29 men to start. That’s right folk, all you have to do tomorrow it simply finish the race and you’ll record World Cup points, it’s as simple as that! The bookmakers have Kowalczyk the favorite at 1.25, but on the men’s side it’s Shiriaev (3.00) then Sommerfeldt (3.25) and Dolidovich (9.00). We’ll see the return of early World Cup leader Irina Khazova. Only two Canadians in McMurtry and Nishikawa in tommorow’s race and it looks like a good time to improve on their World Cup bests of 16th and 26th which were incidently recorded in the same race in Vancouver last year. Prediction time:
1. Irina Khazova
2. Justyna Kowalczyk
3. Yulia Tchkaleva
1. Ilia Chernousov
2. Rene Sommerfeldt
3. Sergey Shiriaev
Til Next Time.