I’ll start off this post by saying that I didn’t watch the races so I won’t try to sugar-coat anything. Whatever I write here could have probably been decifered by yourself off the results sheet or on another website alredy. First off, the start lists were depressing, it’s as simple as that. There should be some sort of default cut-off for the World Cup…”if you don’t get “x” many registrants for a race, the race won’t go through.” Today, a whopping 23 females cross the finish line while only 21 men did! It’s embarrassing to see such miniscule numbers for a race of this calibre. I understand that it’s an Olympic year and all, but comeon! 54 finishers on the day, that’s just pathetic. It almost seems like a waste or organizers, officials, and volunteers time. Anyway, enough about my ranting, let’s look at the race.
It was the same old story with Justyna Kowalczyk winning yet another race this season. The nickname “Energizer Bunny” was coined to Therese Johaug for her relentless pace, but I think Kowalczyk should adopt the Energizer Bunny ideal or something close to it as “[she] keeps going, and going, and going…” This year, to date the World Cup calendar has had 21 races. Kowaczyk has entered 20 of those and recorded points every time she hits the starting wand. She wants to win everything, and if any women wanted to do that, she’s the one to make it a reality.
Kowalczyk won handily over Sachenbacher-Stehle who had a great race after having a sub-par start to the season. It appears as though the training camp after the Tour de Ski has worked. Hoepfully, she can continue to improve on her form going into the Olympics. In third, was the 29 year old Russian veteran Olga “Woodchuck” Schuchkina who’s previous World Cup best was a 16th in the pursuit in Vernon back in the 2005-2006 season.
Khazova’s return to the cicuit saw her turn in a fifth place. It was a decent result for her as it was her first race since before Christmas.
1. Justyna Kowalczyk
2. Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle
3. Olga Schuchkina
Notes: The Russian Olympic team was named and was interesting to see many “unknown” names on the list including Zavalova, Tchoutchkin, Turysheva, and Chuikov. Surprisingly, veteran of the team Alena Sidko was left off the list.
It was another dominating day for the Russian men who swept the podium again. There was a sprint finish between the top seven Today’s winner was relatively new-comer Artem Zhmurko. He showed up well last week in Otepää taking ninth place and continued his impressive form today. It was still not enough to be named to the Russian Olympic squad. Second place went to Ilia Chernousov who is having a good season and third went to Sergey Shiriaev.
1. Artem Zhmurko
2. Ilia Chernousov
3. Sergey Shiriaev
Notes: The men’s Russian Olympic side had a few surprises including junior Petr Sedov who has yet to feature in a World Cup race this year. The triple World Junior gold medallist has enormous potential and should be very interesting to see how he matches up against the world’s best. In his only World Cup start in Lahti last season, he ended up a very impressive 10th overall. The team looks to be a serious threat for medals in every discipline, partticularly in the team relays.
Til Next Time.