Another windy day in Oberhof, Germany, for the IBU World Cup 7.5-kilometer women’s sprint race caused some of the big names to make huge errors on the range and created room for new faces on the podium.
This week's workout comes from U.S. Paralympics coach Eileen Carey, who shares a fun head-to-head speed session that works on both technique and tactics. "This type of workout is important for our program because we often have training sessions with athletes with a wide range of experience levels and/or with different impairments competing against one another," she says.
In no-snow Oberhof, there were a lot of "ski stopper" rocks on the trails - and U.S. biathlete Tim Burke hit one at the worst possible time, right as he was accelerating towards a top-5 finish on the last few climbs of the race. He regrouped for ninth place overall, behind race winner Martin Fourcade of France.
21-year-old Macx Davies had his first World Cup start on Friday - and promptly placed 42nd, qualifying for Saturday's pursuit. It perfectly illustrated Biathlon Canada's strategy for the weekend, resting their current Olympic team while giving some experience to the athletes it is grooming for the next Olympics.
Tim Burke would rather just forget about placing 61st in Friday's sprint; Annelies Cook was embarrassed to get lapped in the pursuit (to be fair, she had her work cut out for her starting last). Leif Nordgren called his results in the 40's "nothing special" and Lowell Bailey didn't even race because he had a cold. For the U.S., Susan Dunklee's finishes of 32nd and 25th were the bright spots.
Both Darya Domracheva of Belarus and Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway - last year's runners-up in the World Cup overalls standings - finally picked up their first wins of the new biathlon season, suggesting that maybe the favorites will be in shape in time for the Olympics after all. Susan Dunklee (USA) placed 32nd and Macx Davies (CAN) 42nd to lead the North Americans.
Another American landed in the top 10 for the first time this season, this time with 30-year-old Andy Newell as the lone U.S. Ski Team member in the heats Sunday at the second stage of the Tour de Ski in Oberhof, Germany. "I know my fitness and speed is at a world cup top 10 level I jut need to make smart decisions out there," he says.
Jessie Diggins doesn't remember much from Saturday's 3 k prologue, but some familiar faces and loud cheers carried her to fifth. Both she and U.S. teammate Sophie Caldwell, whose family was among the supportive spectators, tied their respective World Cup career bests in the first stage of the Tour de Ski.
Justyna Kowalczyk's out and Marit Bjørgen's on top. That was the biggest news of the day coming out of the Tour de Ski's prologue opener in Oberhof, Germany, on a rainy afternoon that was slow for everybody. The Americans weren't complaining, with fast skis that helped Jessie Diggins and Sophie Caldwell tie career bests in fifth and ninth, respectively.
A staple on the World Cup and the U.S. relay team, biathlete Leif Nordgren feels "more set" for the Olympics than last time around, when he was still a junior but trying the qualification process anyway. He told us about a good summer of training, changes in shooting, and navigating ski testing, boredom, and mashed-potato snow in the Oberhof ski tunnel.
Miriam Gossner - at just 22 years old already an Olympic silver medalist in cross country skiing, from the relay in Vancouver - skied so fast that not even two penalties in the 7.5 k sprint could keep her from the top spot on the podium. Sara Studebaker (USA) had a season-best performance, shooting clean to finish 29th.