Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cross-Country at Callaghan - Finally!


A to the WESOME. You know a finish is good when it causes my two daughters - ages five and three - to jump around as if it's the best goddamn Strawberry Shortcake song ever. I cannot wait for the nordic combined team event next week.

In other news...
The two biathlon races contested so far at Callaghan Valley have both had weather-related drama, namely too-warm temperatures for Saturday's women's sprint and then a crazy mix of sun and sticky new snow in Sunday's men's sprint. As Nat Herz at reported, the men's podium was pretty much determined by the weather: "The medalists in the race—France’s Vincent Jay, Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen, and Croatia’s Jakov Fak—all were among the first ten starters, the winners of what U.S. Head Coach Per Nilsson called a 'lottery.'

The same could happen tomorrow as the cross-country racing starts with the women's and men's interval-start skate races. If weather hits - and between the giant fields and the length of the races, this seems like a good bet - the races will have podiums as bizarre as the infamous men's 15k skate at Sapporo three years ago. Pretending that the weather won't matter or that the best racers will handle it, here are my picks, based on the just-posted start lists, which put most of the Red Group racers at the end of the first third of the fields.

Women's 10km Freestyle
1 Kalla
2 Kowalczyk
3 Bjorgen
best North American: Compton

Men's 15km Freestyle
1 Bauer
2 Northug
3 Hellner
best North American: Freeman


Kuan said...

You gotta wonder what the rationale is for the start order. Looks like they went B-A-C-D

Christopher Tassava said...

I think that's exactly what's happening - send the good skiers who aren't favorites out early to clear the tracks, then send the favorites out to win the thing, and then let the rest loose in the churned up crap.

Colin R said...

Your 15k podium gives Piller the Killer no respect. I know he prefers a tougher course than Whistler, but I still think he's a podium favorite in any individual start race.

My prediction:
1) Bauer
2) Cologna
3) Piller Cottrer

But really, it's a total crapshoot, with at least 20 guys trying to peak for the games with a shot of a top 3.

30 minutes to go!

Colin R said...

*individual start skate race, I mean.

Luke S said...

Well done on those podium predictions Colin. Too bad Freeman blew right up.

uhaul said...

I can't help but notice that a lot of press and attention is focused on Kris Freeman in America. I have always noticed that whenever an individual on the Canadian team has an excellent performance they direct praise to their teammates. When athletes do not perform to their expectations they direct attention to those that did shine. Perhaps the Canadian team is deeper and a poor performance is less noticeable. My question is whether Americans feel it is the singular pressure of success in distance races that has caused Freeman to buckle in the past?