HomeTag Estonia

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After spending last summer training in the U.S. with the Craftsbury Outdoor Center’s U23/collegiate summer training group, this year Johanna Talihärm decided to go home to Estonia. The FIS Cross-County World Cup swings by Otepää periodically (as does the Continental Cup circuit and biathlon’s IBU Cup series), but Talihärm is originally from Tallinn, Estonia’s capital and a World Heritage Site. That’s the atmosphere she moved back to for the summer — which she said had both pros...

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Mati Alaver is a legend in Estonia. Alaver, 58, is credited with building his country’s cross-country ski program from scratch following Estonia’s independence in 1991. Over the last two decades, its athletes have won more than 15 major medals at World Championships and Olympic Games—not bad for a country with a population of 1.3 million. Alaver is known not just as a knowledgeable and successful coach, but also as a pitchman who found the sponsor...

For the last two weeks or so, I’ve been holding down the fort here in Craftsbury as my teammates travel and race all over God’s white acre. In the short span between January 19th and February 2nd, the CGRP has been represented at races in Italy, Germany, Estonia, Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Russia, Norway, and the western United States…AND at the Craftsbury Marathon, of course. While [...]

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Devon Kershaw had it in his head. He wanted redemption. The Canadian National Team veteran hadn’t been entirely pleased with his season so far despite finishing fourth in the Tour de Ski two weeks ago. After several top 10 performances this season, Kershaw took a big hit on Saturday, finishing 40th in the World Cup classic sprint after his pole shattered in his hand and he struggled to find a replacement. With one chance to leave...

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Justyna Kowalczyk didn’t have to say a word. Marit Bjørgen knew it was on. Kowalczyk, the three-time defending Tour de Ski champion from Poland, had spent the better part of the last two weeks recovering from her most recent Tour victory. Bjørgen, the Tour de Ski runner-up, had done the same, skipping last weekend’s races in Milan, Italy, to prepare for Otepää, Estonia. While the two rivals didn’t face off until the final of Saturday’s...

The International Ski Federation (FIS) Doping Panel came to a final decision on Monday in Andrus Veerpalu’s case. The Estonian champion’s positive drug test from this winter, which came just before World Championships in Oslo and his abrupt retirement, still stands. His two-year ban from competition was extended to three; the end of the sentence in 2014 falls precisely on the closing ceremonies in Sochi. In February, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found Veerpalu to...

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Before flying to Estonia last January, I didn’t know much about that nation’s cross-country skiers aside from their names—and their medal records. Jaak Mae, Andrus Veerpalu, and Kristina Smigun-Vaehi—between the three of them, seven Olympic and 10 World Championship medals. Not a bad record for a country with a population of 1.3 million, or the same as the state of Maine. But while Scandinavian stars like Petter Northug and Marit Björgen blend a certain appeal,...

Stand on the side of a trail at an international cross-country ski race, and it’s easy enough to tell athletes apart as they pass by–you can just look at their spandex. But closing your eyes doesn’t make things much more difficult, thanks to the unique words of encouragement used by coaches of different nationalities. Using some auditory evidence from January’s World Junior and U-23 Championships, held in Otepaa, Estonia, FasterSkier digs into the phenomenon of...

Citing an anonymous source, Postimees, Estonia’s largest newspaper is reporting that Andrus Veerpalu, the recently-retired Olympic and world champion medalist, has tested positive for doping. In an article posted earlier this week, Postimees said that an A-sample taken from Veerpalu in January had failed an anti-doping control, but that the opening of his B-sample, which is used for confirmation, has not yet occurred. The details of the report are sketchy, though. No sources are named,...

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Estonia needed a lift. Just prior to the start of the 2011 World Ski Championships, Andrus Veerpalu, one of the country’s most decorated athletes, had announced his retirement. He was hampered by illness and a knee injury, and unwilling to make the trip to Oslo if he couldn’t contend for gold. Estonia’s national team coach, Mati Alaver—a near-mythic figure in the country—may be leaving to work for Russia at the end of the season. And...

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A mix of impressive strength, clever tactics and luck took a Canadian man all the way to the finals of Saturday’s U-23 World Championships classic sprint. It just wasn’t the one everyone expected. Instead of the lanky 6’6” frame of Len Valjas gunning for a medal in Otepaa, Estonia, it was the perfectly average one of Jesse Cockney, who showed in a strong outing that what he lacks in height, he makes up with ski...

The question may not have been burning on Thursday, but at the very least, it was smoldering: Would any of the junior men attempt to double-pole Friday’s classic sprint? At last weekend’s World Cup races on the same course in Otepaa, Estonia, Norway’s Eirik Brandsdal double-poled through his qualifier and all three heats to edge out his teammate, Ola Vigen Hattestad, for the win. Only a handful of others tried the maneuver in the preliminary,...

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For U.S. ski fans, this year’s World Junior and U-23 Championships, which begin Wednesday in Estonia, have the potential to be pretty sweet. On paper, the American squad is as good as any from the last five years, and deeper, too. No fewer than five of its athletes will go on to compete at the World Ski Championships in Oslo later this winter. With Estonia experiencing one of its best winters in years, and two...