Sunday, March 13, 2011


Last Saturday, I was amazed by Therese Johaug's breakaway in the 30km at Holmenkollen. I just could not believe that her audacious move would stick, but of course it did, and paid off in her first-ever elite win - a World Championships, to boot.

Yesterday, watching the 5k+5k pursuit at Lahti, I was almost equally amazed to see Johaug pull away from the pack, dragging Justyna Kowalczyk with her. Even with 2k left, the eventual sprint seemed like a foregone conclusion: JK by a ski length. After all, the Pole is the defending sprint World Cup champion, while the Norwegian never even tries the sprints, and the Pole is a full five inches taller than the Norwegian. All that seemed to mean that Kowalczyk would have a decided advantage if the sprint came down to a ski throw at the line (a topic which NCP covered in depth two and a half years ago).

But I forgot about the wild card - the way Kowalczyk has still failed to master relatively elementary techniques like conserving speed through a downhill corner or throwing her ski at the right time. Check this hot mess out: JK started her throw 10 or 15 meters from the line, just far enough away to squander her height advantage:

Here was the result. JK had to actually start to pull her thrown leg back under her to avoid falling before the line, allowing the much shorter Johaug to stick her left foot out and take the win.