Thursday, November 25, 2010

Kuusamo "Ruka Triple"

This weekend, the fabled Ruka ski center near Kuusamo, Finland, will host a new(ish) event on the World Cup circuit: a "mini-tour" comprising a classic sprint on Friday, a classic 5/10k individual start on Saturday, and a freestyle 10/15k pursuit on Sunday, all linked in such a way that finishes in one event determine starts in the next, and the first racers over the line on Sunday will win the whole event.

Shorter than the Tour de Ski at midseason and closely akin to the World Cup finale that Falun has hosted the last few years, the "Ruka Triple" will be an interesting test. Members of the U.S. team like their chances, and I'd think that the Canadians would be equally excited about the short-medium-long race format, both because they have, in Kershaw and Harvey, some good all-rounders and because they stunk last weekend at Gallivare and need to redeem themselves.

While the overall event will probably be won by an all-rounder - I pick Bjørgen and Cologna (in Northug's absence) - Friday's classic sprint races, as the first sprints of the season, will be prime opportunities for the sprint stars to see if they're on form for the World Championships, where the sprint will be staged in the other technique. My picks for the sprints, to be held on the typically tough uphill-finish Ruka course:

1. Bjørgen
2. Majdic
3. Kowalczyk
Randall: top 10; Crawford: top 30

1. Joensson
2. Newell
3. Hattestad
Kershaw & Freeman: top 30


Anonymous said...

Not a lot of confidence in Freeman, huh?

Christopher Tassava said...

I don't think Freeman has ever qualified for a WC sprint, so a top 30 would be very good - and set him up for the 10k classic and 15k skate...