This weekend sees the last chance for many athletes to qualify to represent their country at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Some big names won’t be there as they will be resting up after the Tour de Ski. However, most of the athletes that skipped the Tour return to racing as they sharpen their form for Vancouver. The conditions will be rather cold and lots of the skiers will be making note to cover up those bare patches of sking. According the webcam the track conditions look immaculate. Both fields are fairly weak with a shocking TWO seeded racers (Bauer and Nousiainen)in the men’s field while the women’s field sees a slighty more respectable 12 seeded skiers hit the start line. With the small fields, it’ll be a great opportunity for new skiers to the scene to grab some valuable World Cup points.
In aniticipation of Otepää, it was a bad week for the Fredriksson brothers as they were denied to travel with the Swedish team to race in Estonia. The veteran brothers had yet to qualify for the Olympics yet and this was their last chance. It’s a sad story considering how they received the news as Sweden’s head coach Jocke Abrahamsson text messaged Mathias telling him he won’t be traveling with the team. I find that extremely unprofessional on behalf of Abrahamsson especially considering the contributions of the Fredriksson’s for the Swedish team. And I’m not the only one who believes that the matter should have been handled differently. Abrahamsson says the reason is to give some World Cup experience to some young skiers. There’s a time and place for everything, and this wasn’t the weekend to bring in fresh blood. I agree with Kjell Erik Christiansen when he says that it was a bad decision to give the youngsters some experience in place of two veterans of more than 15 years trying to punch their ticket to their swan song Olympics as professional skiers. The youngsters who were chosen over the brothers won’t even be going to the Olympics so it seems like a moot decision.
Everything else seems a go, so without further adieu…predictions:
1. Marit Bjørgen
2. Justyna Kowalczyk
3. Kristina Smigun-Vaehi
1. Lukas Bauer
2. Johan Olsson
3. Anders Södergren