Friday, January 15, 2010

Oh Otepääääääää

I'm overdue to assess my picks for the Tour de Ski, but no matter: I'm plunging forward as clumsily as a Kenyan skier to make my picks for the World Cups in Otepää, which are being run, traditionally, as interval-start races in the classic technique. To prep for the races, you oughta read the rambling account by Bengt Erik Bengtsson (an FIS official) of how the FIS decided, way back in 1999, to stage races in an out-of-the-way country town in an out-of-the-way (and then newly-independent) nation. Basically it's because the Russians were too poor do to it, and the Estonians were just crazy enough to think they could.

And so they have, twenty-four times now. This year, quite a few top-tier racers are skipping Otepää (Northug, Legkov, Vylegzhanin), but then again some big names are returning after missing the Tour de Ski, including Bjørgen and Kalla for the women and Veerpalu and Södergren for the men. (And two Chinese racers are starting in each race!)

Beyond the boring old start lists, my picks are shaped by two considerations:
  • The Estonians are going to go nuts, either performance-enhancedly or not, on home snow.
  • The Norwegians (who have won 11 of the 24 races at Otepää, and taken 12 other podium spots) have to do very well to qualify for the Olympic team.
And but so:

men's 15km classic
1. Bauer
2. Veerpalu (koff koff)
3. Hjelmeset

women's 10km classic
1. Šmigun-Vähi
2. Kalla
3 Bjørgen


Anonymous said...

Maiken Caspersen Falla and Celine Brun Lie will not be participating in Otepaa due to disease.

Ingri Aunet Tyldum will step in to one of the open spots. The other one will remain vacant.

Mountainmums said...

Kalla better then Bjoergen in classic ?? Kalla has shown she can beat Bjoergen in a Free Technique race, but her classic isn't yet up to par. I wouldn't bet on her for the podium.