The metaphors are rife when describing the rough and tumble nature of the urban environment. Most often we think of pine forest, alps, and Hansel and Gretel valleys as the backdrop for the World Cup. To foster interest and in-fill a dense schedule of racing, city-sprints are nothing new when it comes to populating the World Cup calendar. Places like Dresden provide a contextual backdrop to a Europe steeped in history. The city is often a reminder of darker times, as it’s historic architecture was destroyed in World War II.
The city, since rebuilt to historical specs, is the place to be post Tour de Ski.
As a sprint specific weekend immediately following the Tour, the field is absent one notable name from Norway: Johannes Høsflot Klæbo. He placed third overall in the Tour and took the weekend to recover.
The World Cup show goes on. And perhaps one of the most stable and finest skate ski technicians out there took center stage. France’s Lucas Chanavat earned his third podium of the season and his second career World Cup victory with a win on Saturday in Dresden. Chanavat won the two-lap 1.3-kilometer qualifier in 2:14.72.
In a tight qualifier in which the top-10 were separated by 1.75 seconds, three Americans qualified for the heats: Logan Hanneman in 21st (+3.65), nineteen-year-old junior skier JC Schoonmaker (in his debut World Cup) 24th (+3.80), and Kevin Bolger in 28th (+4.00).
Bolger finished 25th for the day after placing fifth in the second quarterfinal. Schoonmaker was 30th overall and in the points, as he slotted into sixth in that same quarterfinal heat. Hanneman ended up 29th overall, after skiing to sixth in the first quarterfinal.
For Canada, Bob Thompson placed 34th, Graham Ritchie 46th, Antoine Cyr 51st, and Pierre Grall-Johnson 66th.
Post-race comments from Marine Dusser, Head Coach at University of Alaska Anchorage
Stats aside, this was a tricky course for a basic two-lap oval sprint race. Crashes and slides were plentiful. Staying on your feet, an obvious must, was problematic for some. Most notable was a clash during the fourth quarter, where France’s Richard Jouve clipped the back of Italy’s Federico Pellegrino’s skis. It occurred on the lap corner where skiers seemed to be magnetically attracted to the tightest line up against the v-boards.
Not a bad tactic. But the high risk move didn’t always pay off. Pellegrino went down, as did Jouve, in a gnarly tumble. Pellegrino took a moment on course to disparage Jouve. Both skate sprint savants, Pellegrino placed an uncharacteristic 27th and Jouve 22nd.
The scene was a reminder that those who fired from the start, got out front, and remained there, set themselves up for success. With no true kicker hills on course, coupled with the high speed tracks, remaining in the front and out of trouble proved to be the recipe for success.
Chanavat played those tactics to perfection. He won his quarterfinal, semi-final (in a photo-finish with Norway’s Sindre Bjørnestad Skar), and the final by skiing boss-like out front in 2:14.81.
The only mishap in the final was for Håvard Solås Taugbøl of Norway, who snapped a pole early on the first lap. Skiing the remainder of the lap with a single pole, he ultimately placed sixth, only 1.86 seconds back.
“I felt good today, especially in the final stretch,” Chanavat told FIS after the race. “I saw the crazy falls because Richard Jouve is usually fighting there (in the 180° turn) during the final and he was unlucky today again but he will be back stronger soon. I was hoping for a World Cup victory this year but I was not expecting it to happen so fast.”
Skar took second place (+0.61), Sweden’s Johan Haeggström third (0.96). Pål Trøan Aune of Norway placed fourth (+1.04), and Jay Renaud of France fifth.
Racing continues tomorrow with a team sprint.