Nations Cup Ranking: 14th (971 pts)
Men: 11th (648 pts)
Women: 12th (323 pts)
2010/2011 A Team
What you may have missed last season:
After a three-year retirement, Estonian legend Kristina Smigun-Vaehi came back for the Olympics and had an incredibly strong year. Despite starting few World Cups, she was competitive in every one she started, knocking down four top-10 finishes. In the 15 k at the Vancouver Games, she finished second and earned her third career medal, tying her with Andrus Veerpalu as the most decorated Estonian Olympian in history.
Also, according to her Vancouver Olympic website bio, a lab testing one of her urine samples in 2001 didn’t know she was female. Whoops…
What You Should Know For This Season
The Estonian big guns – Andrus Veerpalu, Jaak Mae – are both aging, which has taken a toll on their ability to be competitive for a full season, and even each race. The 38-year-old Mae had his lowest World Cup point total in the last eleven years; Veerpalu is 39. There was even some suspicion raised in a recent podcast about how they are able to ski as well as they have, for as long as they have.
In addition, rumors are swirling about the head coach of the Estonian National Ski Team, Mati Alaver, leaving Estonia to work for their biggest rivals: Russia.
With the retirement of Smigun-Vaehi, the women’s team is thin – Kaija Udras is a quality talent, but nowhere near Smigun-Vaehi’s level.
The Estonians are very invested in their sprinting, even when losing to their countrymen, as Veerpalu demonstrates in this throw down with his teammate Mae.
The Estonians also seem to have some sort of law which requires parents to give their children awesome names. Triin Ojaste? Kaspar Kokk? Algo Karp? Announcer Kjell-Erik Kristiansen has his work cut out for him at the Otepaa World Cup.
Who You Should Watch
Timo Simonlatser. This 24 year old sprinter skied well last season, cracking the heats at the Olympics. Due to the advanced age and declining sprint ability of the Estonian old guard, he should be given a chance to succeed on the World Cup.