Race report – Tour de Ski Stage 1 – Skate Prologue – Oberhof, Germany

Brits start the tour in tough conditions

Last year was the first time Great Britain had entered any athletes in to the tough Tour de Ski with just Andrew Musgrave representing the team. This year they are starting out with a bigger team of both Andrew Musgrave and Andrew Young in the mens race and Fiona Hughes in the womens race. The Tour de Ski is a series of 7 World Cup races over 9 days in 3 different countries and presents considerable logistical challenges as well as the physical challenges of an arduous series of races.To assist the real big teams in this environment they have large custom made waxing lorries for ski preparation and Luxury rock star style tour buses to aide athlete recovery! Alas sadly the British team will not have any of these perks!

The snow conditions were not great with a track made of mostly artificial snow and high humidity conditions making waxing conditions difficult to say the least. In the mens race Andrew Musgrave finished just 0.1 seconds ahead of Andrew Young in 65th and 66th places respectively. The final time check though does not show the full story, Andrew Young commented “started slow so i had some energy at the end…. didn’t have any energy at the end anyway….” but when you look at his splits compared to the fastest skier part way through and at the finish there is not a large drop off in performance, so I think a fairly well paced race for Young.

In contrast Musgrave’s first split was only 2.5% off the winner however 2.3km later at the finish line that had slipped back to 7.2% behind. A slight disappointment really as Musgrave is capable of finishing within 3% of the winner. That said the soft snow pack will always play havoc with shorter skiers who have shorter limb length in the skating technique.

In the women’s race Fiona Hughes finished in 74th place struggling with the soft conditions. Stage 2 however should suit her technique and physiology a lot better though.

© Al Dargie 2012