Sprinting for Championships on Saturday
|04.03.2011, Khanty Mansiysk / Jerry Kokesh|
|Medals in Mixed Relay Video|
|With the first set of medals awarded to teams from Norway, Germany and France, the race for individual titles starts on Saturday with the men’s 10K sprint and the women’s 7.5K sprint.
It is no surprise that athletes from the same three teams that took the medals in the mixed relay should figure in the medal chase in the sprints tomorrow and the pursuits that follow on Sunday.
Looking at the top men in the sprint cup standings, five of the top seven are from those three teams. Norway’s Tarjei Boe holds both the Red and Yellow Bibs. He showed no loss of form since the US World Cups in last evening’s mixed relay. He shot fast and accurately and then proceeded to bury Germany’s Michael Greis on the tracks. Emil Hegle Svendsen sits second in the sprint standings just ahead of Greis. Svendsen showed good form in the US, with two victories and a sixth place in the mass start. Greis was maybe a not at his best in the mixed relay, but has generally shown good form since the beginning of 2011.
Martin Fourcade of France had another eye-popping performance in the mixed relay to grab a Bronze medal. He is probably the one athlete in field who could run away from the Norwegians. Ivan Tcherezov of Russia has been extremely consistent in the most recent competitions and pulled his team from the depths of disappointment up to a respectable sixth place last night. He desperately wants a medal in his home country.
Arnd Peiffer of Germany is sixth in the sprint standings and had a solid outing in the relay as did seventh place Lukas Hofer of Italy, whose weak point remains shooting but is an extremely talented skier. It will be no surprise to see men’s medals to be hanging around the necks of any of these seven men.
Likewise, the women’s field is dominated by two Germans and a Norwegian; although a speedy Finn wears the Red Bib. Kaisa Mäkäräinen sits atop the sprint standings and could remain there if her performance in the mixed relay is any indication. She shot clean and was devastatingly fast on the tracks. Although Magdalena Neuner of Germany sits third in the sprint standings, she is one of the few women who can match Mäkäräinen. Neuner also shot clean and was equally outstanding on the tracks yesterday. The third devastatingly talented woman in the field is Norway’s Tora Berger. She needed a spare round to clean prone yesterday, but was powerful on the tracks. Berger was in top form in the US in February and seems to have gotten even better since then.
Henkel in Yellow
Andrea Henkel is wearing the Yellow Bib and will definitely be a factor in these Championships. Yet Henkel cannot match most of these three women on the tracks when they are in top form. The other two top women to watch are Helena Ekholm of Sweden, who won the Presque Isle Sprint and would love to get back in Yellow. Daria Domracheva of Belarus sits sixth in the sprint standings. She has yet to win a competition this season, but has been quite consistent; with a clean shooting day, she could be on the podium.
All of these big names want medals from these Championships; some of them already have one. No one wants to leave Russia without one; tomorrow’s sprints start the real chase for the medals.
Medals in Mixed Relay Video
This video captures some of the excitement from the Norwegian Victory in the Mixed Relay.