Peoples Republic of China
2009-2010 Nations Cup Ranking: 22nd (20 pts)
2010-2011 Nations Cup Ranking: 21st (43 pts)
Men: 19th (27 pts)
Women: 19th (16 pts)
2011/2012 World Cup Team (Best Estimate)
What You May Have Missed Last Season
Qinghai Sun skied his way into a top position at one of the most hotly contested events of the season – the first sprint race of the season, and the first stage in the brand new ‘Ruuka Triple’ stage World Cup.
The Kuusamo mini-tour isn’t exactly Rybinsk – with 125 skiers it represented the deepest field on the World Cup, and Sun classic-strode his way to 6th in the qualifier, and was good enough to finish 13th on the day.
The rest of the mini-tour didn’t go so well, as he finished 66th in the overall standings, but the Vancouver Olympian proved once again that he does have world-class speed in classic sprints.
On the women’s side, Dandan Man and Song Bo teamed up to finish 16th in the crash-filled Dusseldorf team-sprint to collect their 16 total points for the year.
The Chinese also competed in the Asian Winter Games, held in Almaty, Kazaksthan. The event was not classified as an FIS race, but did feature some top Kazak and Japanese skiers in addition to the Chinese. While the fields were certainly not deep (the average starting numbers were around 8 skiers) young Dandan Man had the best outing, finishing 4th in the sprint, just .1 of a second behind Kazakh World Cup sprint regular Oxana Jatskaya.
The Chinese also have their own Tour – the Tour de China, which has a good turnout, and an awesome sprint stage in Bejing’s ‘Birds Nest’ stadium. Some surprising internationals who competed last year include former Swedish sprint heavy weights Bjorn Lind and Thobias Fredriksson. As well, young Norwegian sprinter Mari Eide, took part, and then traveled back to Europe to finish 10th in the Liberec, Czech Republic World Cup, and 6th at the Under-23 World Championships.
What You Need to Know For This Season
Similar to last season, if the Chinese can show up to more FIS-level events period, they’ll do much better. They participated in just the first three World Cup weekends, and recorded less than a dozen FIS-level race starts – hardly enough to get an accurate idea of the level of skiing they bring to the table, or experience.
The entire program is still very young – just five years into the existence of the Chinese National Cross Country Ski Team, they have a decent male classic sprinter in Sun, and solid distance skier in Xu Wenlong, who won the 50 k in the Tour de China. Count China in the group of hard-charging Nations looking to upset the established order in the sport; just not right away.
And while you may not have an idea of what skiing is like in China – if this guy is any indication, it’s cold.
Who To Watch
Xu Wenlong and Qinghai Sun have the best chance to make an impact, but only if they get the start spots. Again, the Chinese suffer from a lack of true competition with the rest of the world, they did not attend World Junior or U-23 Championships, so it’s difficult to truly assess up and coming Chinese talent.