Al Dargie reports on the opening Cross Country World Cup race in Gaellivare, Sweden
This weekend saw the first Cross Country world cup in the far north of Sweden. The races this early in the season are always long dark days with only a few hours of daylight. Last weekend saw 3 major races across Scandinavia with different national teams racing at each so it is always hard to judge who is showing what form. This is the first time that the worlds best have had shake down to see where everyoneâ€™s performance is at.
This first race of the season was a freestyle time trial, where skiers race against the clock using a skating technique. The temperature was -1 with a relatively high humidity and snow falling in the later stages of the race, this meant the later skiers were at a very slight disadvantage.
At the top end of the field Martin Sundby of Norway won his second ever individual world cup in a time of 30 min 37 sec followed by Alexey Poltoranin of Kazakhstan just 8 seconds off the win to secure the 3rd podium of his world cup career. The last podium position was secured by Marcus Hellner of Sweden 11 seconds of the winner, Marcus is a regular at the top end of the field and came 4th in last seasons overall world cup standings.
Some of the worlds best skiers had surprising results with last years overall world cup winner Dario Cologna coming home in 19th and Devon Kershaw who came 2nd last season only managing a finish position of 43rd. Petter Northug of Norway came home in 7th having won last weekends Norwegian opening race looking a little out of breath!
Great Britain were represented Andrew Musgrave and Andrew Young, who had both raced well at the Norweigians opening races last weekend in Beitostoelen with Musgrave finishing an impressive 12th and Young a respectable 47th place. Andrew Musgrave in his preferred discipline had a fantastic race to come home in 27th place securing world cup distance points for the first time and finishing 3.8% off the winners time. As the season progresses I think we will be seeing more world cup points for Andrew Musgrave who continues to grow as Britainâ€™s best Cross country skier.
Andrew Young came home in a strong 66th position his best placing in a distance world cup and 7.5% off the race winners time, this shows he is continuing roughly along his performance pathway which tracks performance to the age of an athlete as the athlete develops through the years. We will have a a piece on performance pathways in cross country skiing in the near future to explain them better.
All in all a good weekend for the British team with a mixed bag at the top end of the field as we would expect at the start of a new season.
Â© Al Dargie 2012