There’s been a lot of skiing for me the last week. Well, watching skiing and writing about skiing and studying skiing. Not actual skiing.
Between covering the Birds of Prey World Cup (Alpine) and dotting the last few ‘i’s’ and crossing some final ‘t’s on my 225-page double-pole-related thesis, I didn’t get on snow as much as I would have liked to. I was able to watch the delayed broadcasts of the Lillehammer World Cup, and I’d have to say the most exciting part, by far, was watching some protestors try to light the iconic trail on fire.
Meanwhile, the Americans were lighting things on fire …and there’s a nice transition. We tried.
One thing I won’t try, however, is discussing the things which need to be discussed when it comes to those protestors. There’s a lot there, but, for now, I’ll just give some of my winners and losers from the past three days.
Diggins – With an interval start win and two more quality showings, I like where Diggins is in terms of the overall globe pursuit. It’s better to be the one hunting at this point, as opposed to dealing with the constant “here’s your yellow bib leader, _____” at every event.
Klaebo – He’s won 22 of his last 24 sprints. The other two? Second-place finishes. Contrast that with our excitement for almost putting two Americans into the final! Hot take: Klaebo’s sprint record is more dominant than Johaug’s distance grip ever was…and it’s a category that’s much, much, much harder to be dominant in. This guy might be the most dominant athlete alive in any sport. (Usain Bolt’s three-peat repeat in the 100, 200, and 4×100 is objectively the standard, in case you were wondering. And I’m not a sprinter, so giving him that mantle is saying a lot).
American staff – If I’m in the media tent, I’d love to inquire of those wearing the rad Kappa jackets what they felt was the key reason for such improved performances in Lillehammer compared to Finland last week. It seemed like we nailed the skis here — so maybe that is just that important? That feels like a sad reality to our sport if it’s true, but, hey whatever…. I also heard there were some illnesses floating around the team – maybe that was the reason for Ruka’s irrelevancy? I don’t know, but kudos to everyone…it certainly made it more exciting to watch.
Kern – I’m starting to like Julia Kern quite a bit, and it isn’t just because I saw the latest Insta reel of her ballin’ on the side of the U.S. wax truck, though, that certainly wins brownie points in the Seder-Skier camp. If she wants to come on our podcast to discuss how basketball translates to xc skiing, that would probably seal the deal. In all seriousness, though, I thought she raced tactically sound in her sprints and is appearing to be more confident in the 10k range, too. Let’s not forget: she’s young! I wonder if she has the potential to be our Tiril Weng. Speaking of Weng: I’m kind of amazed at her form. She is still the overall leader…..did you have that in your fantasy skiing picks? I don’t think so.
The young guns and the old farts – Interesting to see Iver Tildheim Andersen (22) win in his second World Cup race. Also neat to see Didrik Toenseth continue his resurgence with a second-place finish, just 2.8 seconds back. Andersen was 24th in Oslo last year, which means he has a 50% win rate on the World Cup through two races. If I can bring our golden boy back into the picture for a moment, Klaebo also has a 50% win rate…in 104 starts, he’s won 52 times, so there’s that.
Andrew Musgrave – Look, I’m the double-pole guy, but Musgrave’s decision to go kick-wax-less might be one — in a World Cup where the distance globe is up for the taking — he really, really, regrets in a month or two. It seems like sometimes he just tries to be different for the sake of being different. Wow, when I word it like that, I feel a special kinship. Never mind …that was totally epic and I have to admit, I do love the guts. I just hope we aren’t coming into Holmenkollen next March with Musgrave like 20 points out of the distance globe wandering what could have been…
Johannes Klaebo – Yeah, he’s a loser this week, too. My question: how sick are you if you can win the sprint at a World Cup? I don’t know, but something’s up here. With all of the news around Klaebo’s decision to altitude train (which, in my opinion, is the right call, but I was never afraid of being too much of a lone wolf on any team I was on… in other words, I’d take my team-chemistry-related actions with a grain of salt) plus his injury drama and the utter dominance every time he’s shown up, I can imagine the vibes in the Norwegian men’s wax room are less than chummy. Did he sit out for some political reason we’ll never know about? Makes me wonder.
The actual reason he’s in my ‘loser’ column, however, has more to do with the missed opportunity by not racing the 20k. In Sunday’s pedestrian mass start, Klaebo could have dictated the race completely. He’s a threat to win — even under the weather – for that reason alone: he controls everything and no one has the guts to try and dethrone him. Further, is it possible that Klaebo at 55% still gets on the podium? I’ll just leave that there.
Jouve: Is this guy alive? What is wrong with the French sprinters right now? 10th in the sprint final is unacceptable.
Well, that’s all for now. I need to try and think of a good email to Letsrun.com so I can try and get mentioned on their podcast for a record-setting third time. I’m basically the Klaebo of Letsrun.com emails.