January 09, 2011 – What a week of racing – so exciting at all levels – the Tour de Ski (TdS), US Nationals and the Haywood Trials to both pick the Senior Worlds, Junior Worlds and the U23 Championship teams that will all be heading to Europe in the next few weeks for their championships.
First to the TdS where the Canadian men are making all kinds of astronomical break through’s when it comes to the results and standing on the podium. It’s a very grueling series of races, and if you don’t believe that, look at how many people will be on the starting line tomorrow for the final race and the crowning of the King and Queen of the Tour. A total of 79 men started this trek along with 58 women and there will be 40 men and 36 women left to attack the Alpe Cermis – a very huge climb – to continue to takes it’s toll right to the last second.
Canadian Team uniforms are interesting when seen from a distance – the lower legs being all white gives the appearance that the Canadians are skiing in knickers – the old fashion way.
Coverage of all of the competitions has really lifted the level of media exposure – press reporting, pictures by the 100s flying all over the place, twitter, and the video links to the TdS are all really cool. I was at a dinner party tonight and half the guests knew all about what was taking place at the TdS, and knew the skiers names. They sure slaughter Northug’s name!!! All an outcome of last year’s Olympics in Vancouver and of course the excellent results help the big time media pick up the releases in both countries.
George Grey made a very interesting quote after winning the first trial race at Thunder Bay at the Haywood NorAm Worlds Trials.
“It was awfully tight and very technical out there today,” said Grey. “I don’t really have my shape but I think my experience put me in the front in the end. The last few weeks of training have been challenging because my fitness isn’t there. But it will come around.”
It’s getting late George, half the World Cup schedule is done, you were in Europe before Xmas and had less than good results and have had the better part of a month to get things in order. The “Big 4″ from Vancouver is now down to the “Big 2″ as Ivan is also struggling to find his shape. Rumours have it that you made only one training camp all summer and fall and of course we all know about Ivan’s reality trip to South America and car buying trip to the US. This sport takes a full year of training effort every year – hope you guys catch fire soon.
The US Nationals were one soggy mess the first day of racing in Rumford. Use your imagination and instead of calling this Rumford, call it Oslo, as during the time that the Worlds are being hosted there it can easily be that ugly and worse. Plus the next day can be ass rattling icy. You had some good practice – be happy.
Haywood Trials one more time, and where was Canada’s sprint champion, Chandra Crawford? I know that she is headed to Liberec along with Dasha Gaiazova next week for some more international racing. I would have thought she would want to race the T-Bay races to lift her racing fitness to be ready for this tour. I know that she has had only one race since coming back from Europe over a month ago. She could have gone to Rossland with all the boys and Dasha the next weekend upon return and given those races a real lift by being there. Her counterparts in Europe are now at the 16-18 races for the year level and Chandra is only at 6-8 races. If Chandra makes it as a sprinter only, she will be the only one in the world.
The women who are the top women in the world are both sprinters and distance skiers, at all levels. I would use Kikkan Randall, a close friend of Chandra’s, as an example of the necessary steps that have to be taken. She was trying to make it as a sprinter two years ago – the light bulb went on and now she’s becoming a really good sprinter (currently ranked 3rd in the world) and is slugging her way through her first TdS quite nicely – and ranked 23rd on the WC distance list as I write this. Racing fitness comes from racing – it is the only way! There are not enough sprint races on the WC circuit to get anyone in shape.
Update on Canada’s dynamic duo, Devon and Alex, as they have been working there way through the TdS, they have also been improving the standings on the World Cup. Devon stands in 7th place overall and Alex has placed himself nicely in 11th. Too bad Alex didn’t make a better effort of being ready for the WC races before Christmas, coming late to the tour and then going home for some school exams. Who know how good he would be now?
Who makes the US Team to the World Championships in Oslo, Norway – here are my choices and I don’t have a clue about the criteria.
Women – Randall, Brooks, Arritola, Stephens, Symth – and as a PS send both Diggins and Bjornson to the World Jrs and U23s with the proviso that if they can make the top 10 in any event they come to Oslo.
Men – Freeman, Newell, Flora, Southam, Elliott and Hoffman – and have Hamilton prove himself in Drammen.
Both teams are building towards Sochi with older leadership, maturity and youth and will be on the international long road to getting ready for the big show 2014.
PS remember, no one can ski the whole schedule and you’re bound to have some sickness. Also – Oslo will be one hell of a show – close to or the equal of Sochii. Great place for the newbies to get their feet wet – no pun intended.
Talk to you soon.