Monday, January 11, 2010

Final Climb Recap

It's already been five days since the Tour de Ski ended, but boy, that was a good race, huh? This year's tour was the first time that first place in the men's race changed on the final day - and more or less on the climb, too. (In 2008, Kalla passed Kuitunen to take the win, and of course last year Saarinen took the lead from but then gave the lead back to Kuitunen.)

Okay, maybe the drama wasn't so good if you were Norwegian and/or rooting for Northug, in which case you might write a column in a Norwegian paper outlining all the ways in which Petter got screwed out of his win - too many pursuit stages that favor late starters, too few interval starts, and too few bonus seconds. You might also suggest that the winner of the Tour wasn't tired enough at the top of the Alpe Cermis.

That may or may not be so, but Lukáš - which I believe is Czech for "Pettersmasher" - did have enough energy to find a use for the hole in the tip of his fancy-schmancy Fischer "hole skis" - holding the staff of the Czech flag that he stopped to obtain from a spectator.

In other related news, 2010 was the first year that a German didn't stand on the men's podium (Angerer, first, 2007; Sommerfeldt, second, 2008; Teichmann, third, 2009 - you can see the progression to Sommerfeldt in sixth this year) and a Finn didn't stand on the women's podium (Kuitunen, first, 2007 and 2009, and second, 2008; Saarinen, second, 2009). Over the four editions, eleven different countries have been represented on the podia. Not bad for the sport.

This year, a North American cracked the general classification top 10, as well: Ivan Babikov, on the strength of two great stages at the end of the Tour, wound up ninth, 3:32 behind Bauer, one of the few men who can outskate Babs. The previous N.A. best was Kershaw's 21st in 2009, and Kershaw did better than that this year by finishing 16th. Next year, maybe Kris Freeman can try the Tour in a season without either Olympic Games or World Championships.


Colin R said...

Hahaha, oh yeah, it's unfair to Northug that there were so many pursuit stages, cuz he's such a bad sprint finisher and all.

Still though, it was kind of lame how the first 4 stages basically went out the window and everything consolidated on stage 5. But it was ON after that!

Jan said...

The first 4 stages might not seem that important, but remember that Bauer did very well in the two first races. Others lost more in the two first and thus lost the possibility to get into the lead group at stage 5.