XCFeedsCross Country Ski Racing Changed Today

Avatar Johnny KlisterFebruary 20, 2010

pAnyone watching the 30k pursuit saw a different cross country ski race than had been raced on the World Cup ever.  Team tactics have never significantly affected a world cup distance event after the first two or three kilometers.  That changed when Johan Olsson found himself in front of the pursuit field after getting his equipment on faster than the next racer.  He capitalized on his strong position and fast skis.  No one expected him to stay away. But Olsson grew his gap to 24 seconds with the help of his teammates Marcus Helner and Anders Soedergren who policed the front of the pack and psychologically took a break from the business of racing the event themselves.  While Olsson skied the best race of his life, the pressure mounted on the chase group.  When Alexander Legkov finally broke the Swedish Half Nelson, the chase group had been churned into a frenzy.  Only Toby Angerer,  Petter Northug and Marcus Hellner were able to match Legkov’s pace and a pole mishap soaked up Northug’s famous sprint.  Two things that happened in the last two kilometers were particularly impressive. 1. Marcus Hellner took off with the same efficacy of a sprint final.  2. Johan Olsson didn’t crumble when Legkov and Angerer caught him.  When the Swedes took Gold and Bronze and Angerer took Silver, mass start skiing changed, at least for the day in Vancouver.  Will it be replicated outside of sloppy conditions or Olympic fields?  Unknown.  What is known is that tomorrow, the Norwegian tabloids will brow beat the Norwegian team with twice the voracity (and half the stupidity) of the Fasterskier comment section, and you can bet that future mass start races will have more team tactics or at least attempts imitating what the Swedes did today./p

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