With Swedish, Norwegian and Italian National Championships underway, and the Olympics just around the corner, a paltry field will take to the line tomorrow for the World Cup freestyle sprint in Rybinsk, Russia.
Just 34 women and 43 men are scheduled to start. Just skiing the qualifier will gain World Cup points for all but four of the women.
16 of the men are Russian, and exactly half the women’s field is racing on home soil.
Justyna Kowalczyk (POL), the overall World Cup leader, who starts just about every race, should add to her lead, and move closer to defending her title. She will be challenged by Slovenian sprinters Vesna Fabjan and Katja Visnar, as well as Steffie Boehler (GER) and Magda Genuin (ITA).
The favorite in the men’s race is Alxei Pethukov (RUS). Italians Renato Passini and Christian Zorzi and Josef Wenzl (GER) should contend.
Wenzl needs to finish in the top-8 to gain an Olympic berth.
Canada is well represented with Sean Crooks, Graham Nishikawa, Phil Widmer, and Brent McMurtry.