Spanning the nordic world
By Peter Q. Graves
With weeks to go until the nordic world cup season begins, I wanted to run up a few phone bills and talk with a few coaches and old friends who are on the inside of things in the nordic world. Here's a sampling of what those folks were speaking of.
Ralph Eder the PR man for the German jumping team said that although the results were not great for them in the Summer Grand Prix, that the team spirit is very strong at the moment. Their jumpers are busy with final training and next week, they will pick their world cup squad for the early season events. Named to the team right now are Martin Schmitt, Michael Uhrmann, Michael Neumayer and Georg Spath....Eder says that Michael Uhrmann is looking very good and that younger ski jumpers like Pascal Bodmer, Andres Wank are also looking strong. There are two more spots to be selected. The German jumpers will train at Klingenthal next week.
On the Norwegian XC beat, Norge team trainer Vidar Lofshus says that they are just finishing up an Elite team camp for men and women in Val Senales by week's end. It's been an altitude camp, and the sprinters have held their final camp. Lofshus says to watch for real improvement from Marit Bjoergen and that Astrid Jacobsen still surprises everyone with her amazing comeback from a back injury suffered this summer. He also noted that the men's sprint team looks very strong, except for Johan Kjoelstad, who got mono this fall. Kjoelstad is back at training but is not expected to race in the early world cups. The remainder of the men's distance squad is "looking very strong and that overall things are good."
Finnish XC Chief Magnar Dalen said his charges are well now, but that the flu has hit some of the team, and there are some injuries, but did not single out any names. He did tell me that..."an even higher level of skiing will be needed to make the medals, than what we saw in Liberac. I will be surprised if one team is totally dominant."
An FIS delegation including Bente Skari (race manager for VM 2011) Jurg Capol (FIS race director), the skiing star Vegard Ulvang, who is the chair of the FIS cross-country committee. and Karl-Heinz Lickert, who is the man behind the FIS course certification, gathered to look at some new race courses for the FIS 2011 World Nordic Championships to be held in Oslo.
According to Ulvang, the track is right at the limit of what FIS accepts. "I believe we can state that the 50 km track at Kollen is the hardest in the world. It has the greatest difference in elevation of any track in the world cup, it has some extreme climbs and exciting downhill sections," the three-time Olympic gold medalist said. The trail network will be open year-round, for skiing and mountain biking.
Longtimers' will recall that the 50 km course went for long time periods out in the forest, but the new 50 course will feature an 8.3 km track, that will be skied six times. What still remains is that from parts of the course the spectacular view will include Oslo and the Oslo Fjord, which for years has provided some epic images of the sport.
Image: Michael Uhrmann (Gepa)