Another niche on the vast interwebs that is somehow going unfilled is the nordic skiing live blog. You can find hundreds of sites live blogging during football games, but not one talking about nordic skiing. Thus, I am a pioneer! So here we go with a cup of coffee and a WSCN.com subscription, watching almost 2 hours of sprinting in October on a massive tape delay.
The average reader here is a cyclist and doesn't follow nordic skiing. Sorry dudes. If you're a nordic skier and you find this stuff interesting, leave a comment so I'll be encouraged to do some more in the future. I know that I like reading live blogs/diaries of sporting events I didn't get a chance to watch, but I might be the only one.
10:26 -- Welcome to Dusseldorf! Apparently WCSN doesn't have the rights to commentary so I only get the video feed. Given that the normal Eurosport guys think that everyone drafting has amazing wax, this might be a good thing. Currently I see nothing but slow panning shots of the crowd and the same strip of snow as the last few years. Thrilling!
10:28 -- Somehow Josef Wenzel roasted everybody by 3 seconds qualifying. I predict that he will pull a Newell and go out in quarters despite this. I also predict that Newell will go out in the quarters, but it's not a gutsy prediction when he qualifies 14th.
10:31 -- First women's quarterfinal, Manninen, Kuenzel, Henkel, Stehle, Phillipot, and Kalla. Three Germans in Germany. The crowd is stoked. Manninen predictably tries to win it from the front because that just how the #1 seed rolls. And hey, she's got it in the bag. The finish straight is too short to fall out of the top 2 when you lead it out I think. I'll keep tabs on whether or not anyone fails to advance after leading
10:34 -- Photo finish shows that Kuenzel beat Kalla for second place. Crowd breathes a sigh of relief.
10:36 -- Q2 is Bjorgen, Mahlvalehto, Norgen, Mischol, Crawford, and Aas. Heh, Aas. As a Mona-Liisa Mahlvalehto fantasy owner from last year, I am fully expecting her to fail to advance.
10:37 -- Britta Norgren eats it on the backstretch. Can't tell why. Two others are held up as well.
10:38 -- Mahlvalehto barely leads out, gets dusted by Bjorgen and loses a FF to Crawford at the line. Maybe leading out isn't infallible.
10:39 -- No wait... actually a photo finish between Crawford and Mischol for 2nd... Mona Liisa went from 1st to 4th in 100 yards. Told you she sucked.
10:40 -- Q3 is Dahlberg, Saarinen, Andersen, Ingmarsdottir, Shapovalova, Boehler. The three Swedes lead it, looks like Saarinen will be the high seed getting knocked out...
10:42 -- Dahlberg gets through with a 3-way FF behind her. The other two swedes plus Saarinen I think. Judges give it to Lina Anderson.
10:44 -- Q4 is Peraelae (who?), Weibel (who?), Matveeva, Fessel (who?), Vina (who?), Bourgeouis-Pin (who?). Ok, if Matveeva doesn't dust these scrubs she's officially off my list. Three frenchwomem, by the way.
10:46 -- Nice false start, ladies. Can't tell who it was but it takes like 5 extra shots from the pistol to get them to stop. Rookies!
10:47 -- A clean start and Matveeva gets the holeshot. Everyone fights for the draft and Peraelae gets taken out... skate sprints are brutal. Matveeva is pulling away. Damn straight.
10:49 -- The crowd is goes nuts because Nicole Fessel (GER) gets through. The French girls go 3,4,5. Ouch. Replay shows Weibel was responsible for the crash.
10:50 -- Q5 has Kuitenen, Fabjan, Follis, Korosteleva, Natsumi, Brun-Lie. God I hate Kuitinen. Not because of the doping history, just because she's like the damn Yankees (or should that be Red Sox now?) of the women's scene.
10:52 -- And, despite a crappy start she blows everyone away to advance easily. Follis gets second with a decent cushion and then everyone falls on the ground for 3rd.
10:54 -- Thanks for telling us who the lucky losers were... NOT.
10:55 -- Men's Quarterfinals now. Interesting to see how the race changes with two laps, the woman who got the holeshot almost always advanced. Rotchev, Roenning, Wenzel, Kittilae (?), Dahl, Chvanov (?). Men's sprinting is crazy these days, all kind of 20 years olds you've never heard of are qualifying on the world cup.
10:56 -- Rotchev gets his pole broken immediately and somehow stays in contact at the back while changing it. Nice one.
10:57 -- Wenzl shows us why he's #1 by leading the first lap. Roenning sits second. Rotchev drops the hammer on the backstretch and takes second place away from him rudely.
10:58 -- Wenzl gets it easily, Dahl skis straight into his teammate Roenning during the final sprint... I have no idea what he was doing, other than eliminating both of them. Rotchev gets second... oh wait, apparently Dahl was taking out Roenning so he could get second in a photo. Sneaky.
11:02 -- Q2 has Newell and Northug, the Sausage, Yuichi Onda, and two random guys I've never heard of. This is gonna be good. I'm expecting Sausage-based domination, and for Newell and Northug to crash each other out.
11:04 -- Onda leads, Newell takes a crappy 4th position. Everyone tries to move up after one lap, go Newell! Go! He gets up to 2nd. Northug leads now, someone stepped on Onda.
11:05 -- The damned sausage just took second like it was candy from a baby. And now Newell is 4th. He's cooked.
11:05 -- Yep, Sausage and Northug, saw that coming. Lots of ski throwing though, it was close.
11:06 -- Q3 is Hellner, Joensson, Ambrosetti (?), Toby Fredriksson, Peter Larsson, and Zorzi. Yeah, that's right, FOUR swedes, including Mr Dusseldorf. Larsson's Dusseldorf domination is remarkable mainly because he sucks in every month that isn't October.
11:08 -- Larsson leads because he is MR DUSSELDORF, bitches! The random French guy almost overtakes him but then stands up to slow down... interesting. And then shuffles back to 5th on the straight. Good jorb.
11:10 -- Zorzi is getting smoked, he's too old for this sprinting shit. But you know who isn't too old for this? Toby Fredrikson, who just advanced. The bald spot makes him lighter. Second goes to...Hellner over Larsson. Mr Dusseldorf is no more.
11:12 -- Lind, Morilov, Chebotko, Hetland, Kosizek, Bredl. Hetland's another guy verging on "over the hill" so this should be interesting. At this point he's wicked smart but doesn't seem to have the raw speed of the young guys.
11:13 -- Ugh, dense traffic. This course is too narrow and flat for skating... but the fans love it. Lind leads and Hetland comes from the back up to 3rd after one lap.... Newell tried the same but he blew up, lets see how Hetland does.
11:15 -- Hetland looks set up to overtake Morilov on the final straight but the youngster has way too much fast-twitch power. Morilov and Lind advance cleanly.
11:17 -- Last quarterfinal is Strandvall, Darragon, Iversen, Waldmeier (some random swiss guy), Angerer, Kjolstad. Wow, Angerer is so good he qualified for sprint heats.
11:18 -- Haha, but he still gets ROASTED off the line by the sprinter specialists. He looks like he's dropped... then he breaks the swiss guy's pole... yeah this is going well.
11:19 -- Swiss guy buries himself trying to get back on and crashes out.
11:20 -- HOLY CRAP ANGERER IS BACK AND HE'S UP TO 2ND! How the F...
11:21 -- Angerer just won the heat. I am speechless.
11:22 -- Oh yeah, Darragon was 2nd.
11:22 -- On to women's semis. First semi has Manninen, Kuenzel, Bjoergen, Andersson, Mischol and... Chandra Crawford! Lucky losers are great.
11:24 -- Manninen leads but then Bjoergen takes over and cruises in easily. GODDAMMIT CHANDRA SPRINT!! Crawford out-throws Kuenzel to keep her chance of making the A final alive in 4th.
11:26 -- Semi 2 has Kuitenen, Dahlberg, Matveeva, Follis, Fessel, and the lucky loser Weibel. Four heavy hitters and two girls who have probably never been here before.
11:28 -- Matveeva leads again but this time they are all over her ass, and Follis gets by before the final straight. Kuitenen is way back! Matveeva holds on for 2nd... lets see who else goes to the A final.
11:30 -- Turns out Dahlberg in 3rd gets into the A final, so Crawford is out by a ski throw.
11:31 -- Men's semi #1 -- Wenzl, Northug, Sausage, Hellner, Dahl, and Strandvall (lucky loser). How long until Northug gets in a crash? I am growing impatient.
11:33 -- Northug is at the back and looking off balance. A huge effort on the straight gets him up to 4th, but I think he's gassed. Strandvall and the Sausage are even worse off.
11:35 -- Wenzl takes care of business again... but here comes Northug with the crazy V2!.. if this was a 4x10 he would be killing it but alas, it's a sprint so he gains exactly zero places and gets 4th. A surprising 2nd sends Dahl to the finals.
11:38 -- Next up, Fredrikkson, Darragon, Lind, Morilov, Angerer, Kjolstad (lucky loser). Morilov promptly false-starts.
11:39 -- Lind must have been thinking about his many endorsements, because he barely even made an effort off the line there and went straight to the back. Angerer is with him. Morilov leads.. and here comes Angerer again up to second. You won't believe it but the crowd is kind of excited by this.
11:42 -- Holy crap, don't listen to me ever again. Lind follows Angerer to the front and the ANNHILATES the competition, soloing in with sick margin. He's looking like the guy that won the sprint world cup in 2005, not the guy who sucked up 2006. Morilov gets a comfortable second. Darragon gets crashed. All of these guys go to the B final so that means effing Northug makes the A final. Dammit.
11:44 -- Women's small final is Kuitenen, Fessel, Crawford, Kuenzel, Andersson, Weibel. Kuenzel (ok, Kuenzel-Nystad, but I can't type all that) gets the holeshot. Crawford looked good off the line but somehow slides to 4th.
11:45 -- Kuenzel wins, Crawford fourth, but most importantly Kuitenen gets worked for the second race in a row. Maybe she's not going to be quite as unstoppable this year. Weibel gets DFL again, I have no idea how she even got out of quarters because she really can't hang.
11:47 -- Women's final has Bjoergen, Follis, Matveeva, Manninen, Dahlberg, Mischol. Six big names (ok, 5 and a Swiss) from six different nations. Juicy.
11:48 -- Yet another holeshot for Matveeva. I'm not sure if that's the best idea but it sure strings it out. Mischol is done, Manninen in trouble too.
11:50 -- Manninen practically falls down backwards on the last corner. Matveeva crushes all comers on the final straight for a convincing win. Bjoergen and Dahlberg throw for second, Bjoergen gets it.
11:52 -- Mens small final features Fredriksson, Angerer, Strandvall, Sausage, Kjolstad, Darragon. Angerer continues his strategy of slow starts, lets se if he can come through on lap 2 again.
11:54 -- A boring first lap, and this time Angerer is strangely content not to make a move. He stays in sixth and I believe he's done. Strandvall has been leading the whole way with the Sausage on his tails, I gotta think the Sausage will take this.
11:56 -- Strandvall crashes off-camera on the climb (I think) and takes down Kjohlstad too. Angerer doesn't do anything but gets fourth by default. The Sausage dominates for the win.
11:57 -- Finally, the main event. Wenzl, Lind, Morilov, Hellner, Dahl, Northug (grrr). At this point I'm a believer in Wenzl, he's looked good and he's got home-field advantage.
11:59 -- Some serious cat-n-mouse on the first turn, the front guys almost got run over by the back guys, but the stupid course is too narrow for a pass. Wenzl leads lap one, Lind second, Northug moving up to third. This is going to be crazy.
12:00 -- Wenzl is going all out at the front. Hellner and Morilov are gone. I gotta like Lind's chances from second right now, Wenzl looks tired and he's all over the place.
12:01 -- It doesn't matter, the crowd is deafening and Wenzl cannot be stopped. Lind gets second, and all the thrashing in the world can't elevate Northug above fourth.
12:03 -- Wow, Jon Kristian Dahl on a World Cup podium? That's at least as surprising as Wenzl winning.
12:04 -- Damn, it's bedtime.
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