by Alain Chivilò
The first stage of the 2023-24 World Cup in Sweden, Oestersund, has concluded. Very intense weekend with interesting final results. Great competitive spirit and willingness to compete on the snow with a handshake at the end. Low temperatures, snowfall and intermittent wind.
The balance was reconfirmed. For now, each race has its own story highlighting always in high, low with some consistency in the results. A lot of attention to the shots (prone-standing), with execution times of around 45 seconds as highlighted by some top athletes. Italy was absent from the crucial moments of the races over the last weekend but, especially in the women’s and men’s Under 25s, it is capable of fighting for the top three places.
Women: 7.5 km Sprint / 10 km Pursuit
The star of the weekend is the French Lou Jeanmonnot. With a 0/0, between prone and standing in the Sprint and Pursuit, she also combines stability in cross-country skiing winning in both races. If in the first the gap from second Karoline Offigstad Knotten +8.5 and from third Juni Arnekleiv +17.6, in the second and last leaves Franziska Preuss +0.3 on the finish line and Vanessa Voigt +18.5
France hugs Lou who won with authority. A new ace who will have to demonstrate continuity already next weekend in Austria, Hochfilzen.
Germany confirms once again they are a compact team with the Preuss/Voigt duo managing and commanding. Franziska Preuss comes close to victory by just a few tenths in the two respective weeks but, she places herself at the overall.
Norway has four athletes among the top positions, Knotten/ Arnekleiv/ Tandrevold/ Johansen: slightly alternating performances but, they can only do better after the first. Sweden lives a lot in Sweden’s sisters Hanna and Elvira Öberg but, they still highlight some misses between the prone and standing positions.
Men: 10 km Sprint / 12.5 km Pursuit
The surprise is the German Philipp Nawrath who with a zero on the first and 0/0/1/1 in the Pursuit wins and second. Behind Norway and Sweden nations.
In the Sprint, second +18.7 Tarjei Boe and third +19.8 Vebjoern Soerum. In the Pursuit, Sebastian Samuelsson wins 1/1/0/1 over Nawrath +5.1 and Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen +7.2
Samuelsson greets Sweden with a victory in his country, as in the opening with Hanna. He demonstrated an effectiveness in cross-country skiing that allowed him to close the gap of three misses. Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen, if he speeds up his shots on prone and standing, could be a leading player (without umbrella). Norway is present with the Boe brothers, Stroemsheim, Soerum and Dale. France is behind in terms of form but, in the end they are still in the race.
Second stage: 8-10/12/2023, Austria Hochfilzen. It could be possible to see a new mix of performance always in high, low and constant performance. The historic voice of the arena, which is heard during the live broadcasts, could give greater verve to the six races scheduled: Sprint/Pursuit and Relay.
©AC, NDSL, AM, Alain Chivilo