Many consider the men’s combined start races in particular to be very predictable. It’s hard to break away from the main crowd. The top places are decided among the huge group in the last kilometer or only on the final straight.
However, the mass start races of the World Cup skied in Canmore, Canada, were a celebration of proper endurance sports. The pace was maintained and differences arose already on the way. On Friday, in the men’s 15 km free race, Norway’s superstar Simen Hegstad Krüger got out in good time.
For the second place, there was an exciting battle between skiers from five different countries. It is telling that there were only two Norwegian men in the top ten.
The women’s 20 km traditional co-start race, which was skied on Sunday, was great excitement from start to finish. Finland Kerttu Niskanen the front held speed and the group thinned lap by lap.
Neck and Frida Karlsson fought a duel for several kilometers for the victory. In the end, Karlsson was more advanced in the final straight. The difference between the Finn and the third-placed Norway To Heidi Weng was 6.5 seconds.
Sports expert Aino-Kaisa Saarinen was impressed by how many different tactics were used to win the games.
– The track was incredibly good. If you think about the Oberhof race that came during the day, then you’re about to fall asleep. It felt like I couldn’t bear to watch this goddamn season. The track has to be heavy enough to allow you to ski under the feet of others.
Even though the joint start races were hard endurance races, Kerttu Niskanen still missed the intermediate start race. The Finn felt that he would have clearly won if the race format had been an intermediate start.
Niskase has a place for revenge, when three weeks from now at the Lahti World Cup, the traditional 20 kilometers will be skied as an intermediate start race. Saarinen believes that Niskanen gave a clear message with his comment.
– Yes, it sounded like a promise. It was a very believable promise, Saarinen sees.
Estonian Kristjan Ilves nothing is a new acquaintance at the top, but considering the performance level of the early season, we can talk about a surprise. The 27-year-old combined athlete was twice second and once fourth at the Otepää World Cup in Estonia.
The second places are Ilves’ first podium places on home soil. The Estonian, chasing his first victory, brings much-needed color to a sport dominated by Norway, Austria and Germany.
The cross-country skiing world cup also saw positive surprises, when a former combined athlete, Mika Myllylän named after Austria Mika Vermeulen got on the podium for the first time in his career. He was third in the 15 km free mass start race.
The 21-year-old from Italy was responsible for the real sensation Elijah Barp, who was in the sprints of the World Cup for the first time in both the final and semi-finals. He was a handsome fifth in the final results.
What the hell?
Two years ago, he finished fourth in the free sprint at the Olympics Joni Mäki has gotten back to good shape after his difficulties in the early season. On Saturday, he was ninth in the Canmore free sprint qualifying and was skiing in the third heat for a strong position in the semi-finals.
Mäki, who was the best on the final descent from the last descent, hammered hard and seemed to be among the top two. However, in the very last moments, Mäki started to push Sweden to his right To Edvin Anger towards.
The Swede swept past the Finn, leaving him third in his heat. Mäki’s time was not enough to continue.
Mäki’s actions aroused wonder. I wondered if it was just about running out of strength. However, the athlete stated in an interview with Viaplay that he was careless. Mäki was tied for first place in the heat, but he wanted to tactic for second place.
– I thought that I would take second place and go to the second semi-final with the idea that there would be better chances of going to the final from that round.
In the end, the first semi-final was at a slow pace. Sweden’s Anger, who went on from that semi-final, was finally third in the sprint to Norway Johannes Höfslot Kläbon and By Erik Valnes after.
Aino-Kaisa Saarinen considers Mäki to be a very good skier tactically. The Finn’s actions totally surprised the expert.
Mäki is both a World Cup and Olympic medalist.
– How can it be that something like that happens to him? He was in a really good mood. He had the keys in hand, but he already started thinking about the tactics of the next round.
– It was confusing that the focus shifted completely elsewhere. We have never seen anything like that from Jon, Saarinen sneers.
Remi Lindholm has flashed his fitness from time to time this season. From the beginning of the season, he was tenth in the free intermediate start race in Östersund.
One of Lindholm’s strong areas is the joint start races. For example, at the beginning of the season in Ruka, he was 12th.
Now Lindholm’s energy was left behind. He was 41st in both Canmore start races. Lindholm is far from his best.
The cross-country skiers’ North American tour continues in Canmore on Tuesday with the traditional sprints. Johanna Matintalo skied even the best distance race of his career in the 20 km race in Canmore.
The Finn has been second in traditional sprints twice, so he is a name to consider on Sunday. Saarinen also raises the sprint as an interesting Finnish factor Lauri Vuorinenwho has been in strong shape throughout the season.
– At the end you have to be really fast. However, Johanna is Kristine Ståvas of Skistad I meet a tall woman who gets straight a good thrust. If the normal distance goes, why not a sprint as well.
On the other hand, on the weekend there will be a race in Minneapolis, USA. There is a sprint and an intermediate start race in free skiing. The competition program is as if made to be a great favorite of the home audience, the United States Jessie Diggins for.
– Diggins’ success in the United States would rain down on the whole of cross-country skiing. I hope that the US market could be better opened this season.