Friday, November 26, 2010

"Ruka Triple" Pt. II

Friday's sprint races were as usual pretty interesting. The venue is picture-perfect (though a bit cold, judging by the full-head buffs that pretty much everyone wore), and the tracks are simple and brutal, with the last steep uphill leading into a nasty left-hand corner that seemed to affect at least a couple skiers in every heat. The surprises for me were, first, Charlotte Kalla being a factor in a classic final (even with Saarinen absent and Kowalczyk disqualified, this is notable); second, the presence in the finals of Madoka Natsumi; and third, the 13th-place finish of the Chinese skier Qinghai Sun (fluke or challenge?).

Given all that, I'm looking forward to seeing how the 5/10k classic technique races go off on Saturday - even though I don't think we'll see many surprises on the podium. (For what it's worth, neither do the guys at

1. Bjørgen (dominant so far)
2. Kowalcyzk (seeking redemption for the second straight weekend after her DSQ today)
3. Kalla (I'm thinking she'll want to position herself for Sunday's freestyle race)
Randall: top 20

1. Cologna (on form and raring to go)
2. Jauhojärvi (in good shape and eager to fly the Finnish colors)
3. Johnsrud Sundby (who's on form and who won here in 2008 over 15k)
Harvey, Kershaw, and Freeman: top 20; Newell: top 30