Saturday, November 27, 2010


I've gone on record on this blog and in the world-renowned Fasterskier podcasts as being emphatically in favor of pursuit-style races, and Sunday's freestyle pursuits at Kuusamo only reinforce my support. (Pursuit-start races will occur at least four more times during this World Cup season: three times during the Tour de Ski and once during the Finale in Falun.)

The Kuusamo pursuits are going to cover some of the same brutal trails as today's 5/10k races: a descent right out of the stadium, a long half-kilometer climb followed by a steep descent to the halfway point of the 5k lap, a series of small/medium/large climbs over the next 2000 meters, and then the hard climb back to the stadium. It's a great course for pursuits, where some racers will cluster naturally, according to start intervals, while others have to ski alone. Marit Bjørgen should be able to ski alone for the entirety of her race, but some jockeying should occur behind her as Majdic (starting 26 seconds behind), Kowalczyk (+35s), and Kalla (+43s) chase. My picks:

1. Bjørgen
2. Kowalczyk
3. Kalla
Randall: top 20

On the men's side, we should see even more place-swapping, since sprinters Joensson and Poltaranin are the first two starters. Cologna, starting 10 seconds behind Joensson, should have no problem catching them. Behind, Harvey has been told by his coaches to ski with Legkov and perhaps Rickardsson all the way through the race, catching the sprinters and positioning himself for a podium spot - which would be a brilliant result. Starting in 13th place at +49s, Freeman should be able to move up quite a few spots past sprinters and/or classic specialists. A top 10 is almost certain (on the assumption that Poltaranin, Joensson, Roenning, maybe Filbrich, and Eriksson won't maintain their positions), and a top 5 is possible. Whatever the results, it'll be a great race.

1. Cologna
2. Legkov
3. Harvey
Freeman: top 7; Kershaw: top 15


Kieran said...

Spoiler Alert -
You win some sort of prize for picking the women perfectly! I must admit I didn't see Kowalczyk breaking Kalla by the 25 seconds she did in the last 2k ish, thought Charlotte was a more gutsy skater.
On to the men, where we see whether you can go 6 for 6!