Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How Bad Are the German and Italian Men?

Pretty bad.

Through nine individual events in this World Championships season, the Italian and German distance-racing men are really stinking it up. I dunno what the nordic-skiing communities in either country are saying about this, but I'd wager it isn't good: Worlds are only two months away.

In the head-to-head matchup of dismal distance teams, the German men have a slight advantage. Thanks to a sixth-place finish in the 10km classic race in Kuusamo, Filbrich ranks 21st in the WC overall. The young Tscharnke is in 23rd, just a few points behind. After that, though, it's a long way down to Teichmann in 46th (on the strength of a 5th in that Kuusamo classic event) and even further to Goring and Angerer in 57th and 58th - so far from the Red Group, they're only faintly pink. And none of the German sprinters - er, the German sprinter, Wenzl - have scored meaningful points.

So far, the best Italian men's finish is Scola's second in the Dusseldorf skate sprint. Ranked 12th in the overall, Scola also finished fourth in the Davos skate sprint, to go along with two twenty-something finishes earlier in the season. The only other Italian man in the top 30 of the World Cup overall is another sprinter, Renato Pasini, in 25th; his best is a fifth in the Kuusamo classic sprint. The once-vaunted Italian distance skiers are nowhere to be seen: di Centa is 39th, on just three point-scoring races (two 15ths and a 22nd), Hofer is in 49th, Piller-Cottrer is in 67th, Checchi is in 68th, and Clara is in 85th.

Counterpose these dismal accomplishments first to the respective teams' female racers: Germany has two women in the overall top 20 (Fessel in 5th and Zeller in 20th) while Italy has two in the top 10 (Follis, 3rd; Longa, 6th), one more in 30th (Genuin), and some promising skiing from Rupil, ranked only 44th but holding a 9th in the La Clusaz skate race.

Counterpose the men's results next to their early-season results last year. By the Christmas break in 2009, Teichmann had a 7th place in the Kuusamo classic race, di Centa had finished 4th and Filbrich 5th in the classic mass-start at Rogla, and Angerer had garnered a shock 2nd in the classic sprint at the same venue. Even Piller-Cottrer had an 11th, a 10th, and a 9th to his name.

What to make of all this? At the very least, it bodes poorly for good German or Italian results at Oslo, either individually or in the relay. In the latter discipline, the Germans' and Italians' weakness means that the track is clearer for Sweden and Russia, for Norway (not an untroubled men's squad), and even for outliers like Finland, Switzerland (winners of the La Clusaz relay) and the Czech Republic (with their bronze at Vancouver).


Kieran said...

Stoked that Timmy T is doing well, but a little bit surprised at his lack of sprint ability. He qualified for lots of them last year on the World Cup.
Also, I really think Axel's goatee is slowing him down. Needs a bit of a trim.
Honestly think the Italian mens distance team should just shut up shop. The only good news is that they aren't letting Christian Zorzi attempt World Cup events, and sticking him in marathon cups instead, although by the time World Champs rolls around, that may change...

Anonymous said...

Not as bad as the American men, I'll tell you that much.