I’ve got the sprint heat times in hand again, thanks to Jan at WorldOfXC.com, so let’s look at how things played out. Starting with the men:
I’ve omitted a handful of times from this graph that were unusually slow, which typically happens due to a crash, broken pole or some other mishap.
As usual with the men, we saw the field skiing fairly hard in qualification and then backing off a bit and being a slightly more tactical in the subsequent heats. Northug put in relatively fast times in both the quarters and semis, in addition to having one of the top qualifying times. After some very fast qualifying times, Jönsson and Jylhae both lucked into a rather slow quarterfinal heat. One of the big stories of the day was of course Alex Harvey’s second place finish. His day was interesting for how consistently he skied through all four rounds.
A quick look at the semifinals shows that they were pretty well mixed, so there wasn’t much of advantage on that score on this particular day.
As usual with the women, the qualification round was slower than most of the rest of the heats, although the speeds remained mostly constant once they reached the semis and finals. Maiken Falla laid down some fast times all day long, only getting edged out at the very end by Randall. Ida Ingemarsdotter had an excellent sprint race, despite finishing last in the final.
Randall also stumbled into some luck by having a somewhat slower quarterfinal than all of the other finalists. Here’s a look at the semifinals for the women:
Interesting split here. Generally, semifinal 1 was slightly faster, and so it had both the lucky losers. But the eventual winner, Randall, came from semifinal 2. Obviously this is no slight on Randall, but this just reinforces how capricious sprint racing can be; a lot can turn on the particular athletes you have to face on the way to the final.