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Revisiting the Men’s Cross Country Pursuit Event

FIS Nordic World Ski Championships

Wed, Feb  28, 2007 - By Yoshifumi Iwase

In the Men’s Cross Country Pursuit event, an event that tests skiers’ all-round strength, athletes ran four laps using the classical technique before changing skis in the pit and skiing four laps in the skating style. 

During Saturday’s race something implausible occurred. The race turned out to be a stunning upset without any Norwegian athletes, considered as favorites in the build up to the race, finishing in the top six.

In what transpired as a congested race, a clash occurred at a descending turn that involved leading Norwegian athletes and others who were thought to be among the favorites.  They lost time as they tumbled, slid back and suffered broken skis and poles.  Gaining ascendancy in the meanwhile were the six athletes who ended up on the podium.  The race was somewhat disappointing and frustrating.

Axel Teichmann, who won the nail-biting finish and took first place, and runner-up Tobias Angerer were, albeit slightly smiling, by no means jubilant on the podium despite the German athletes’ feat of grabbing both the gold and silver medals for their country. 

In the Ski Jumping event, held at Okurayama from 18:00, Gregor Schlierenzauer and Anders Jacobsen, joint favorites to win the gold medal, both ended up outside the top six: In calm and windless conditions, they took off rigidly and lost speed perhaps due to the enormous pressure and tension they felt from competing in the World Championships.

Winning the gold medal was Simon Ammann from Switzerland, who seemed to have undergone sufficient mental training.  Ammann was followed by Harri Olli from Finland and Norway’s Roar Ljøkelsøy, touted before the event as the king of Okurayama, took third place.  Roar was ecstatic with his result.

As for the Japanese jumpers, the day’s results were reasonable and natural considering their current abilities.  Having said that, the focus of our attention is on how they will fare at the Miyanomori Jumping Hill, where Japan has traditionally achieved good results.  We hope the Japanese jumpers will get help from a divine breeze that will carry them to the podium although I feel a bit sad about the fact that we have to turn to God for help.