The past weekend of racing in Oslo, Norway was pretty successful for North American biathletes. Here’s what a few of them had to say about it:
-Canada’s Jean Philippe Le Guellec wasn’t even supposed to start the mass start – he was the sixth reserve. But he got luck, nabbed a bib, and went on to finish 12th after skiing in the top six for a period of time. He said that his third race of the weekend was pretty tiring:
“The race itself went rather well in general,” Le Guellec told FasterSkier in an e-mail. “But, as you pointed out, my ski shape started to fade mighty fast after the first lap. It also didn’t help that my skis weren’t as fast as in the previous races. Fresh snow had fallen throughout the night and my skis didn’t seem to respond quite well to the fresh sheet. I had nothing left in the tank for the final lap once I got caught by the Swiss Benjamin Weger and Brendan [Green] who flew by. This is the first week-end all season that I actually race all three races and it’s the type of thing you build up endurance to… so I guess my body was just not used to that much racing.”
Le Guellec also had this to say about teammate Green, who had the three best results of his career this weekend despite a series of mishaps and injuries:
“B.man had an outstanding week-end and it’s definitely encouraging to have had a solid week-end like this leading up to World Championships. I feel if we can stay in good health and keep doing what we’re doing, no more, no less, World Championships will be promising this year.”
-The biggest talk of the weekend was Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen and his crazy sprint moves. But American Lowell Bailey said that a sprint is only good if you have a chance to use it.
“With regard to Svendsen, he’s a great athlete,” Bailey told FasterSkier. “He’s always been very talented in the final sprints. But, he’s just one of about 60 guys that could podium on a given day. That is the amazing part about this sport, it is so competitive right now!”
-Svendsen himself actually seemed to agree, telling the Norwegian broadcaster NRK that with great power comes great responsibility, a seemingly indirect jab at Petter Northug: “You have to be concentrated and not too cocky.”
-The U.S. women didn’t make the top ten like the men did, but they quietly had a solid weekend of their own, with a personal best for Annelies Cook and two season-bests for Sara Studebaker. The ladies said that they enjoyed racing at Holmenkollen, which is the most hallowed venue for ski racing and doesn’t do too bad for biathlon either.
“Oslo is a good venue for me,” Studebaker told FasterSkier. “I like the tracks here, and I think whenever you’ve had good results somewhere, that gives you an extra boost of confidence. The fans here are great, too. For some reason, we always have a lot of people cheering for “USA” and calling us by name in Oslo…they must really like American’s here…it’s pretty cool.”
“The fans are very friendly and supportive,” teammate Susan Dunklee agreed. “I’ve had a chance to get to know a few of the wonderful volunteers too. The crowd isn’t anywhere near as big as what it was for XC World Champs last year, but there were hundreds of school kids the other day and plenty of spectators along all parts of the course.”
-The World Cup has now moved to Kontiolahti, Finland, where it was reportedly -29 Celsius last night. Goodbye, Oslo!