The snow fell furiously during the men’s 20k pursuit at World Junior Championships—as hard as Scott Patterson said he had ever seen it snow during a race.
But there was another force of nature here today that was stronger than the weather: a tall, stocky 19-year-old Russian named Petr Sedov.
At the end of the classic leg of the 20k pursuit here, Sedov had already dropped the entire field except for one: his teammate, Evgeni Belov. And after 10k of Sedov’s smooth, deliberate skating, nobody else was even close. By the finish, the Russian had 40 seconds on his nearest challenger, Petrica Hogiu of Romania. Finn Haagen Krogh (NOR) was another three seconds behind, in third.
Scott Patterson again led the way for the American juniors with a 20th place finish, followed by David Norris and Erik Bjornsen in 43rd and 49th, respectively. Eric Packer was 56th, hindered by cramps.
After winning all the races in last year’s championships, it was a little surprising when Sedov only managed second place to Norway’s Paal Golberg in Wednesday’s individual 10k classic. But Russian Assistant Coach Natalia Timofeeva told FasterSkier that Sedov had suffered from vertigo that day on the course’s final climb, leaving him unable to race to his full potential.
Sedov trains with his father, Nikolai, who also coached former World Junior Champion Irina Khazova, Timofeeva said. After the last race in Hinterzarten on Sunday, Petr heads home to Russia before traveling to Whistler to compete in the Winter Olympics.
For a junior, Sedov is certainly big, and perhaps a bit more physically mature than some of his competitors. But he has already proven that he can compete at the elite level, with a 10th place in a World Cup in Finland last March.
“Many of those guys are big,” said Norwegian U-23 Head Coach Micke Palsson, referring to the juniors here. “[Sedov] is really good.”
Behind Sedov, a messy race was unfolding. With heavy snow falling all morning and only tapering off by the conclusion of the race, athletes had to contend with very soft course conditions. Some the men ended up skating on the classic trail, which was substantially firmer.
By the end of the classic leg, Patterson had moved up to fifteenth, after beginning with bib 54 in the mass start. He almost maintained that in the skate leg, losing just five positions to fall to twentieth after losing a photo finish at the line to Britain’s Andrew Musgrave.
Between the weather and the same brutal course as yesterday (which the men had to ski six times)—Patterson said it was one of the hardest races he’d ever skied.
“It wasn’t really counting how many laps you do,” he said. “It was counting how many times you had to go up that hill.”
David Norris, who raised eyebrows with a 4th place finish in the U.S. Nationals 30k classic, struggled to 43rd today. He clearly didn’t have the same pop that he displayed in Anchorage, and though he was sick recently, Norris said today that he had no excuses.
“I raced hard the last two races…and racing hard should be faster than what it has been,” he said.
Canadian starters included Zach Holland in 33rd, Patrick Stewart-Jones in 52nd, Joey Burton in 68th, and Steffan Lloyd in 70th.
Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for FasterSkier, who also covers city government for the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. You can follow him on twitter @nat_herz.