Thursday, March 3, 2011

Men's Relay

Today's women's relay was probably the least interesting race of the World Championships. I didn't even bother to make a prediction, since the result was as much a foregone conclusion as any result could be. So long as Bjørgen raced, Norway would win - and they did. From the results of previous races at Worlds - and, really, from the results of the World Cup races since Christmas - it was obvious that Finland and Sweden were the next strongest teams, with Italy comparable on a good day. Italy didn't figure today, being two fast skiers short of a relay team and leaving the silver and bronze medals to Sweden and Finland.

Friday's men's relay should be much more interesting. Clearly, Norway (Johnsrud Sundby, Roenning, Gjerdalen, Northug) and Sweden (Rickardsson, Olsson, Soedergren, Hellner) will - at least on paper - vie for the win. Russia (Vylegzhanin, Volzhentsev, Legkov, Chernousov), Switzerland (Livers, Cologna, Fischer, and Perl), and possibly Finland (Nousiainen, Jauhojaervi, Lallukka, Heikkinen) might get into the medals fight as well. Just as Germany and Italy have underperformed over the whole season to date, we've seen nothing from either country's racers to suggest that either of those teams will finish anywhere near the medals. The French are having a mediocre Worlds, and the Czechs seem to be off their Tour de Ski peak. Thus, my picks:

1. Norway
2. Sweden
3. Russia