Race report – FIS Race – Sprint Skate – Gala, Norway

 

After the success of Britain’s top pairing in the opening World Cup of the season the British duo of Andrew Musgrave and Andrew Young are racing this weekend in Gala Norway. Although not a World or Scandinavian Cup there are still a lot of top named Norwegian athletes who have many World Cup starts between them.

For those new to Sprint racing in Nordic skiing, when we say a sprint it can be anything from just over 1km to almost 3km, the race in Gala this weekend was 1.8Km long so not really very short and sprint like to most of us! They can be in either Classic or Skate Technique and start with a time trial qualification. From the qualification round the top 30 go through to knock out stages and race head to head in groups of 6 skiers at a time. These skiers then work through quarter finals and Semi Finals to qualify for the main final with the fastest 2 from each heat going through.

The course at Gala is one of the flatter courses on the circuit, although there are no sudden very sharp up hills there are a lot of longer more gradual climbs with few opportunities for recovery on downhill sections. In the qualification time trial Musgrave performed well to come home in 11th place easily qualifying for the knock out stages. Probably more significantly Andrew Young came home in 12th place only 0.2 seconds behind Musgrave who is 2 years older. This is a fantastic strong performance for a 20year old racing as a senior and should earn very good FIS sprint points.

In the knock out stages the British Duo did not fair as well and failed to get past the quarter final stage. In sprint racing the knock out stages are hard to play out tactically, you have to be taking shelter from the wind and not doing all the work at the front of the pack but you also have to be towards the front so that you don’t get caught if the pack splits. If you can hold out in the top 3 or 4 athletes to the finish area you then need a really strong turn of speed to make the first 2 positions to get through to the next round. Sadly Andrew Musgrave came home 4th in his heat and Andrew Young finished 6th in his heat both failing to get through to the semi finals.

The race was won by Torjus Boersheim (NOR) who has had 3 World Cup strats for Norway, with Anders Gloersen a regular on the Norwegian sprint team and several podium finishes at World Cup coming home in second place with Emil Iversen taking the final step on the podium.

Racing on the Sunday was cancelled due to the cold weather: racing cancelled due to cold temperatures and concerns for athletes health. -23 C at the coldest point on the race loop, and with the international limit set at -20 the organisers had no choice but to cancel the race. Sad for athletes who are in good form. Two weeks before the British athletes are in action again, in Sjusjøen, Norway.

© Al Dargie 2012