Monday, March 16, 2009

Predictions: Recap and Stockholm

This weekend's climactic 50k race in Trondheim saw an unheralded skier of Finnish extraction rise to the top of a competitive field. Yeah, Jauhojarvi won the race itself, but this son of Finland managed to eke out another win in the ultra-competitive test of knowledge about World Cup ski racing, a.k.a. the Nordic Commentary Project "World Cup Prediction Challenge." In the interest of transparency, the results of the Challenge are online as a public Google Spreadsheet.

Did I say "transparency"? I meant, "Tassava supremacy." You see, in the first round of the Challenge, predicting the winners in Lahti, I defeated my co-blogger by a comfy margin: 91 to 117. I had a narrower advantage over visitor Laura Gardner's 97, but a healthy edge over visitor (and racing blogger) ADS's 106. If you're scoring at home, this means Colin was fourth out of four.

In the second round of the Challenge, predicting the winners in Trondheim, I defeated my co-blogger by a thinner margin of 71 to 82, largely on the strength of correctly choosing all of the women in the sprint top five. (I did put three of them in the wrong finishing spot, though.) This helped me earn a scant 6 points, while Colin earned 12 by missing badly on Astrid Jacobsen. We scored almost identically in the men's sprint and the 50k, but I found another six points in the 30k, taking advantage of Colin's brave crazy pick of Kalla. With Laura Gardner pulling a DNS on this round, it was left to ADS to take the third spot on the podium, scoring 99.

And so it all comes down to the Grand Final: classic sprints in Stockholm on Wednesday, and then, in Falun, a freestyle prologue on Friday, a pursuit on Saturday, and a freestyle handicap/hunter-start race on Sunday for all the marbles.

On to Stockholm! (Sometime soon, the FIS will publish start lists here.)

Classic racing in Stockholm? If only there were some decent Swedish sprinters this year. Sadly, they've all been chewed up and spat out by the Big Red Machine from the west. Except for the women, who have been stomped flat by the Big Shriek Machine from Slovenia. I don't see many Swedish sprinters capable of stealing much glory on Wednesday. Maybe the king should threaten a few with some sort of horrible punishment, like living in Finland for the summer or admitting that Switzerland is the best neutral nation in Europe.

men's classic sprint
1 Hattestad (snore)
2 Dahl
3 Northug (the man couldn't even lift his arms after Saturday's 50)
4 Lassila
5 Joensson

alternates: 6 Onda, 7 R. Pasini

women's classic sprint
1 Majdic (snore)
2 Kowalczyk (who has to do well to vie for the overall)
3 Olsson
4 Prochazkova
5 Saarinen

alternates: 6 Follis, 7 Kuitunen


A classic sprint? Didn't we just do this? We did, and I picked 3 out of 5 exactly. If it wasn't for Astrid "busted tendons" Jacobsen letting me down I'd be able to talk some trash about this. Sadly, I have to go with what worked and repick Majdic/Prochazkova 1-2. Olsson's at home, and Kowalczyk never misses the top five anymore, so there goes two more. Picking the exact top five from the last classic sprint would be totally lame (take note, Chris) so let's go with Lina home-field Andersson in fifth this time around.

1 Majdic
2 Prochazkova
3 Olsson
4 Kowalczyk
5 Andersson

6 Saarinen
7 Matveeva
8 Kuitenen

1 Hattestad
2 Dahl
3 Northug
4 Kruikov
5 Joensson


6 Pettersen
7 Modin
8 Svartedal

Is Emil Joensson back on form yet, or is Sweden going to get shut out at home? Chris seems to think so, but I'm not sold yet. Did you notice 2 Swedes and 4 Norwegians made the semis in Trondheim? That counts as a loss for Norway in a classic sprint. I can't pick the Norwegian sweep again, but man, it still seems like a likely outcome. I do, however, believe that Northug can recover from a 50k in 3 days enough to classic sprint his way to an overall World Cup win, he's 23 and the basically the antichrist, so bet against him at your peril. I sure won't. Hard to go against the #1 qualifier/#3 finisher from Trondheim, Dahl and the sprint king Hattestad, so let's pencil them in for the podium. The last two -- well, it's a classic sprint, so anything can happen, but Kruikov has been somewhat consistent as of late, and I'm a sucker for the fastest Swede getting it done at home. Done and done.


Colin R said...

Oh wow. We agreed exactly on 4 out of 5 men and 2 out of 5 women (4 out of 5 if you discount finish order). Guess my hopes are with Kruikov and Lina Andersson, if she even starts!

ADS said...

1. Petra Majdic
2. Justyna Kowalcyzk
3. Anna Olsson
4. Aino Kaisa Saarinen
5. Alena Prochazkova

6. Brun-Lie
7. Follis

1. Ola Vigen Hattestad
2. John Kristian Dahl
3. Emil Jonnson
4. Petter Northug
5. Børre Næss

7. Renato Pasini

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the picks, ADS. As for my picks: I just couldn't pick two Swedes, men or women, to finish in the top five. Even with the home-snow advantage, I can't see Andersson or Lind somehow rallying to do well. At Falun, however...