2009-2010 Nations Cup Ranking: 8th (2264 pts)
2010-2011 Nations Cup Ranking: 9th (2339 pts)
Men: 16th (101 pts)
Women: 5th (2238 pts)
2011/2012 World Cup Team (Best Estimate)
What You May Have Missed Last Season
Justyna Kowalczyk was unbelievably good last season; that’s not a surprise. She cleaned up on the circuit, winning the Crystal Globe for the third consecutive season, as well as the Tour de Ski. Kowalczyk skipped just five World Cup races all season, and never finished out of the points – the closest she came was 28th in a skate sprint in Drammen, Norway.
But the real story of the season is the fact that despite all her accolades, Kowalczyk was not the best female World Cup skier. After exchanging verbal jabs for much of the off-season about asthma (which FasterSkier did some interesting work on), the outspoken Pole was thoroughly dominated by Norwegian superstar Marit Bjoergen whenever the two raced head to head. The Pole won just three of those face-offs, and lost to Bjoergen all four times they raced against each other at World Championships, leaving little doubt as to who was the superior skier.
She probably doesn’t care all that much, but Kowalczyk didn’t make any friends stateside after her little stunt during the skate sprint in Davos, Switzerland, where she cut off Kikkan Randall quite blatantly, and then was promptly disqualified, finishing 6th.
What You Need To Know for This Season
The World Cup is coming to Szklarska Poreba, Poland, February 17 and 18, and all eyes will be on Kowalczyk as she races a sprint and a 10 k in her home country for the first time. The two World Cup races will be held Friday and Saturday, so that Kowalczyk can contend FIS World Uphill Trophy event on Sunday. The unique 3 k uphill followed by 3 k downhill event has not exactly been geared towards the superstar Pole – Kowalczyk isn’t exactly known for her descending ability.
Kowalczyk is a workhorse – she took a grand total of 25 days off following the end of the 2010-2011 season, visiting Kamchatka, before getting back into training. She also put in a massive amount of travel during the off season, with training stops in Estonia, New Zealand, and Spain.
Between all that travel, she also had time to appear in a promotional spot for automaker Mercedes-Benz, which unfortunately was not televised in North America.
Kowalczyk has already started waging war against Bjoergen this season, say she’s more afraid of getting sick than the Norwegian skier.
And the battle between the two should be intense – Kowalczyk won the Crystal Globe last season during the Tour de Ski, which Bjoergen opted out of. In a year with no major Championships, the Norwegian will contest the Tour de Ski,and is gunning for the victory in what should be a thrilling competition.
Who You Should Watch
Ewelina Marsuisz is coming up fast. She finished fifth in the 10 k pursuit at World Junior Championships this season, and 17th in the 5 k. While she lacks notable World Cup results, she was part of Poland’s eight place finish in the 4×5 k relay at World Championships. With the World Cup in Poland, she will benefit from the home crowd experience.