2014 medal projections: Cross-country skiing

Updated Jan. 14

Welcome to one of two busiest sports in the Winter Olympics. Only speedskating can keep pace with the 12 medal events in cross-country skiing, though they’re trying to bulk up the extreme sports of snowboarding and freestyle skiing.

This is also one of the sports I covered in Whistler at the 2010 Olympics. By the end, I think I could’ve driven from the main village to the Olympic Park with my eyes closed. But it was pretty, so I wouldn’t want to do that.

The USA still has just one medalist in cross-country skiing — Bill Koch, one of the pioneers of the freestyle (skate-style) technique. Today’s cross-country races mandate either freestyle or classical technique, rotating in different with each Olympics. Some skiers are slightly better in one technique or the other, so the medalist comparisons with 2010 will be a little inexact. But the USA has medal chances this time, mostly in the sprint events.

Away we go …

MEN

15k (classical)

Gold: Alexey Poltoranin (Kazakhstan)
Silver: Maxim Vylegzhanin (Russia)
Bronze: Petter Northug (Norway)

Also considered: Sjur Roethe (Norway), Martin Johnsrud Sundby (Norway)

2013 World Championship (freestyle) top 8: Northug, Johan Olsson (Sweden), Tord Asle Gjerdalen (Norway), Ivan Babikov (Canada), Roethe, Calle Halfvarsson (Sweden), Aivar Rehemaa (Estonia), Dario Cologna (Switzerland)

2010 Olympic (freestyle) medalists: Cologna, Pietro Piller Cottrer (Italy), Lukas Bauer (Czech Republic)

Classical results: Matti Heikkinen won the 2011 Worlds and 2009 bronze. Winners in 2013 World Cup: Vylegzhanin, Poltoranin (two), Northug, Eldar Roenning.

50k mass start (freestyle)

Gold: Petter Northug (Norway)
Silver: Maxim Vylegzhanin (Russia)
Bronze: Alexander Legkov (Russia)

Also considered: Dario Cologna (Switzerland), Johan Olsson (Sweden)

2013 World Championship (classical) top 8: Olsson, Cologna, Alexey Poltoranin (Kazakhstan), Legkov, Eldar Roenning (Norway), Tord Asle Gjerdalen (Norway), Hannes Dotzler (Germany), Maxim Vylegzhanin (Russia)

2010 Olympic (classical) medalists: Northug, Axel Teichmann (Germany), Johan Olsson (Sweden)

Freestyle results: Northug won 2009 and 2011 World Championships, with Vylegzhanin second; Legkov won sole 2013 World Cup 50k and was second to Northug in Tour de Ski 35k.

Skiathlon: 15k classic + 15k free

Gold: Dario Cologna (Switzerland)
Silver: Martin Johnsrud Sundby (Norway)
Bronze: Petter Northug (Norway)

Also considered: Ilia Chernousov (Russia), Marcus Hellner (Sweden), Alexander Legkov (Russia), Sjur Roethe (Norway), Maxim Vylegzhanin (Russia)

2013 World Championship top 8: Cologna, Sundby, Roethe, Northug, Vylegzhanin, Legkov, Calle Halfvarsson (Sweden), Hellner

2010 Olympic medalists: Hellner, Tobias Angerer (Germany), Johan Olsson (Sweden)

World Cup results: Cologna and Maurice Manificat (France) won the 2013 races.

Sprint (freestyle)

Gold: Emil Joensson (Sweden)
Silver: Petter Northug (Norway)
Bronze: Nikita Kriukov (Russia)

Also considered: Ola Vigen Hattestad (Norway), Marcus Hellner (Sweden), Josef Wenzl (Germany)

2013 World Championship (classical) top 8: Kriukov, Northug, Alex Harvey (Canada), Joensson, Paal Golberg (Norway), Erik Brandsval (Norway), Calle Halfvarsson (Sweden), Toni Ketelae (Finland)

2010 Olympic (classical) medalists: Kriukov, Alexander Panzhinskiy (Russia), Northug

Freestyle results: Hellner won the 2011 world title, with Northug second and Joensson third. Joensson won three 2013 World Cup events. Northug won another. Hattestad won the 2009 world title.

Team sprint (classical)

Gold: Russia
Silver: Norway
Bronze: Sweden

Also considered: Canada, Finland, Germany

2013 World Championship (freestyle) top 8: Russia (Petukhov-Kriukov), Sweden (Hellner-Joensson), Kazakhstan (Chebotko-Poltoranin), Canada (Kershaw-Harvey), Italy (Hofer-Pellegrino), France (Gaillard-Manificat), Austria (Wurm-Tritscher), Czech Republic (Kozisek-Razym)

2010 Olympic (freestyle) medalists: Norway (Pettersson-Northug), Germany (Tscharnke-Teichmann), Russia (Morilov-Petukhov)

Classical results: Canada won the 2011 world title, with Norway and Russia next. Norway won in 2009, with Germany and Finland on the podium. 2013 World Cup: Russia won three medals in two races with three different pairs. Norway, Sweden and Germany also reached the podium.

4x10k relay (mixed techniques)

Gold: Norway
Silver: Sweden
Bronze: Russia

Also considered: Czech Republic, Italy

2013 World Championship top 8: Norway, Sweden, Russia, Italy, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Japan

2010 Olympic medalists: Sweden, Norway, Czech Republic

World Cup results: Norway and Sweden finished 1-2 in each race.

WOMEN

10k (classical)

Gold: Marit Bjoergen (Norway)
Silver: Justyna Kowalczyk (Poland)
Bronze: Heidi Weng (Norway)

Also considered: Therese Johaug (Norway)

2013 World Championship (freestyle) top 8: Johaug, Bjoergen, Yulia Tchekaleva (Russia), Miriam Goessner (Germany), Liz Stephen (USA), Heidi Weng (Norway), Charlotte Kalla (Sweden), Riitta-Liisa Roponen (Finland)

2010 Olympic medalists: Kalla, Kristina Smigun-Vaehi (Estonia), Bjoergen

Classical results: Bjoergen won the 2011 world title. Kowalczyk was third in 2009, second in 2011. Aino-Kaisa Saarinen won the 2009 world title and was third in 2011. Bjoergen and Kowalczyk traded World Cup wins, with Weng and Johaug in the mix.

30k mass start (freestyle)

Gold: Justyna Kowalczyk (Poland)
Silver: Therese Johaug (Norway)
Bronze: Marit Bjoergen (Norway)

Also considered: Yulia Tchekaleva (Russia)

2013 World Championship (classical) top 8: Bjoergen, Kowalczyk, Johaug, Heidi Weng (Norway), Nicole Fessel (Germany), Anna Haag (Sweden), Kerttu Niskanen (Finland), Anne Kylloenen (Finland)

2010 Olympic (classical) medalists: Kowalczyk, Bjoergen, Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (Finland)

Freestyle results: Kowalcyzk won the 2009 world title and was third in 2011 behind Johaug and Bjoergen. The only 30k on the 2013 World Cup calendar went Johaug, Kowalczyk, Tchekaleva.

Skiathlon: 7.5k classic + 7.5k free

Gold: Marit Bjoergen (Norway)
Silver: Therese Johaug (Norway)
Bronze: Kristin Stoermer Steira (Norway)

Also considered: Justyna Kowalczyk (Poland), Heidi Weng (Norway)

2013 World Championship top 8: Bjoergen, Johaug, Weng, Stoermer Steira, Kowalczyk, Charlotte Kalla (Sweden), Yulia Tchekaleva (Russia), Krista Lahteenmaki (Finland)

2010 Olympic medalists: Bjoergen, Anna Haag (Sweden), Kowalczyk

World Cup results: First one was Kowalczyk-Anne Kyllonen, second one was Stoermer Steira-Tchekaleva. Bjoergen has won the last two world titles.

Sprint (freestyle)

Gold: Kikkan Randall (USA)
Silver: Marit Bjoergen (Norway)
Bronze: Maiken Caspersen Falla (Norway)

Also considered: Denise Herrman (Germany) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (Norway)

2013 World Championship (classical) top 8: Bjoergen, Ida Ingemarsdotter (Sweden), Falla, Katja Visnar (Slovenia), Stina Nilsson (Sweden), Justyna Kowalczyk (Poland), Mona-Lisa Malvalehto (Finland), Alena Prochazkova (Slovakia)

2010 Olympic (classical) medalists: Bjoergen, Kowalczyk, Petra Madjic (Slovenia, retired)

Freestyle results: Randall won four 2013 events and was second to Caspersen Falla in the other. Most other medalists were Norwegian. Arianna Follis won the 2009 world title, with Randall second. Follis was second to Bjoergen in 2011, then retired.

Team sprint (classical)

Gold: Sweden
Silver: Finland
Bronze: Norway

Also considered: Italy, Russia, USA

2013 World Championship (freestyle) top 8: USA (Diggins-Randall), Sweden (Kalla-Ingemarsdotter), Finland (Sarasoja Lilja-Lahteenmaki), Norway (Oestberg-Falla), Italy (Piller-Debertolis), Slovenia (Visnar-Fabjan), Russia (Korosteleva-Matveeva), Germany (Kolb-Herrmann)

2010 Olympic (freestyle) medalists: Germany (Sachenbacher Stehle-Nystad), Sweden (Kalla-Haag), Russia (Artemova-Korosteleva)

Classical results: 2011 World Championship was Sweden-Finland-Norway. 2009 was Finland-Sweden-Italy. 2013 World Cups: Norway-Sweden-Sweden, Finland-Russia-Canada

4x5k relay (mixed techniques)

Gold: Norway
Silver: Sweden
Bronze: Finland

Also considered: Germany, Russia, USA

2013 World Championship top 8: Norway, Sweden, Russia, USA, Finland, France, Germany, Italy

2010 Olympic medalists: Norway, Germany, Finland

World Cup results: Norway-Sweden-USA, Norway-Finland-Norway.

BIOS

Men

Top five, 2012-13 World Cup overall: Petter Northug (Norway), Alexander Legkov (Russia), Dario Cologna (Switzerland), Alexey Poltoranin (Kazakhstan), Maxim Vylegzhanin (Russia)

Top five, 2012-13 World Cup distance races: Legkov, Cologna, Northug, Poltoranin, Ilia Chernousov (Russia)

Top five, 2012-13 World Cup sprint: Emil Joensson (Sweden), Northug, Nikita Kriukov (Russia), Teodor Peterson (Sweden), Andy Newell (USA)

Dual threat

Dario Cologna (Switzerland): Three-time overall World Cup champion (2009, 2011, 2012). Third overall in 2013, second in distances. 2010 Olympic gold medalist, 15k freestyle. Two medals in 2013 World Championships: 30k gold, 50k classical silver. Second in 2013 Tour de Ski, first in 2012. Several podium finishes in sprints as well as all distance races.

Marcus Hellner (Sweden): Third overall in 2010, then seventh, fourth, ninth. 2010 gold medalist in relay and 30k. Better in World Cup distance races but also has 2011 world sprint title and 2013 silver in team sprint, along with some relay medals.

Petter Northug (Norway): Two-time overall World Cup champion (2010, 2013). Also second in sprints in those years. Four medals in 2010 Olympics: 50k classical gold, team sprint gold, relay silver, classical sprint bronze. Nine world championships: four relay, two 50k freestyle, two 30k, one 15k freestyle. Also second in 2011 free sprint and 2013 classical sprint.

Alexey Poltoranin (Kazakhstan): Breakthrough in 2013: fourth overall, fourth in distance, sixth in sprints. 2013 World Championship bronze medals in two vastly different events: 50k classical, freestyle team sprint. 2010 Olympics: fifth in team sprint (freestyle), fifth in sprint (classical). Runs better in classical.

Sprints

Erik Brandsdal (Norway): Third in 2012 sprint standings. Three World Cup wins.

Alex Harvey (Canada): Third in 2013 World Championship sprint classical.

Ola Vigen Hattestad (Norway): 2009 sprint and team sprint world champion.

Emil Joensson (Sweden): World Cup sprint champion three of the last four years. 2011 Worlds: sprint free bronze. 2013 Worlds: team free sprint silver, sprint classical fourth.

Nikita Kriukov (Russia): Third in 2013 World Cup sprint standings, career best. 2010 gold medalist (sprint classical). 2013 world champion in sprint classical and team sprint free. Not as strong in free.

Andy Newell (USA): Fifth in 2013 World Cup sprint; career best is fourth in 2010. Three World Cup podiums.

Teodor Peterson (Sweden): World Cup sprint champion in 2012, interrupting Joensson’s reign. Fourth in 2013.

Len Valjas (Canada): Career-best eighth in 2013 sprint standings, his third year on circuit. Tour de Ski 2013: Third in sprint, second in 15k classical.

Distance races

Tobias Angerer (Germany): World Cup champion in 2006 and 2007. Fell far back in 2011 but rebounded for 11th overall in 2012, 14th in 2013. Four Olympic medals — two relay, 2006 15k classical bronze, 2010 30k silver. Also fourth in 2010 50k classical. Never a world champion but has plenty of medals, including some sprints years ago.

Lukas Bauer (Czech Republic): 2008 World Cup champion; second in 2010. Three Olympic medals: 2006 15k classical silver, 2010 15k free bronze, 2010 relay bronze. This would be his fifth Olympics. No world titles – only medal was 2009 15k classical silver.

Ilia Chernousov (Russia): Career bests in 2013 World Cup: sixth overall, fifth in distance. Third in 2011 World Championship 30k. World Cup podiums mostly in relays, mixed races and freestyles.

Tord Asle Gjerdalen (Norway): Two World Championship bronze medals: 2011 freestyle mass start, 2013 15k free.

Alexander Legkov (Russia): Second overall in 2007, then dropped off in World Cup until placing fifth in 2011 and 2012. Returned to second, first in distance races, in 2013. Two Olympics: fourth in 2010 30k. Also a few near-misses in World Championship 30k races and 2013 50k classical. Won 2013 Tour de Ski and the 50k free in March.

Johan Olsson (Sweden): World champion in 50k classical; silver in 15k freestyle. 2010 Olympics: bronze in 30k and 50k classical. Also 2010 relay gold and 2006 relay bronze. Not great on World Cup circuit.

Sjur Roethe (Norway): Career best in fourth year on World Cup circuit in 2013: 13th overall, eighth in distance. Fourth in 2011 World Championship 50k free. Two medals in 2013 worlds: relay gold, 30k bronze; also 15k free fifth.

Martin Johnsrud Sundby (Norway): Career bests in 2013 World Cup: eighth overall, sixth in distance, silver medal in World Championship 30k. On silver-medal relay team in 2010 Games. Three top-5s in 2011 worlds: relay gold, 15k classical bronze, 30k fifth.

Maxim Vylegzhanin (Russia): A couple of top 10s in the overall World Cup, peaking at fifth overall in 2013. Top 10 in 2010 Olympic 15k free and 50k classical. Medaled in last three World Championships: 2009 50k free silver, 2011 30k silver, 2011 50k free silver, 2013 relay bronze. Third in 2013 Tour de Ski. World Cup wins include one team sprint in Sochi.

Women

Top five, 2012-13 World Cup overall: Justyna Kowalczyk (Poland), Therese Johaug (Norway), Kikkan Randall (USA), Marit Bjoergen (Norway), Heidi Weng (Norway)

Top five, 2012-13 World Cup distance races: Kowalczyk, Johaug, Kristin Stoermer Steira (Norway), Heidi Weng (Norway), Anne Kylloenen (Finland)

Top five, 2012-13 World Cup sprint: Randall, Kowalczyk, Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (Norway), Maiken Caspersen Falla (Norway), Kylloenen

Dual threat

Marit Bjoergen (Norway): Three-time World Cup overall champion (2005, 2006, 2012), four-time runner-up. Fourth in 2013 but missed Tour de Ski. Four-time World Cup sprint champion. Showed that versatility in 2010 Olympics with sprint gold, 15k gold and relay gold, plus 30k classical silver and 10k freestyle bronze. Nineteen World Championship medals and huge 2013: four golds (sprint classical, 15k, relay, 30k classical) and a silver (10k free). Also four golds and a silver in 2011.

Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (Norway): Second overall in 2008. Sprint classical world champion in 2007 and third in team sprints in 2007 and 2011, but getting more points in distance races recently.

Justyna Kowalczyk (Poland): Four-time World Cup overall champion (2009-11, 2013), runner-up in 2012. Swept overall, distance and sprint World Cup titles in 2010. Three medals in 2010 Olympics: 30k classical gold, sprint classical silver, 15k bronze. Also 2006 bronze in 30k free. Hasn’t won a world championship since 2009 (15k and 30k free). Second in 2013 30k classical. Not much recent success in freestyle sprints and actually withdrew from 2013 Tour de Ski to complain that events had been switched from classical to freestyle.

Anne Kylloenen (Finland): First big season in 2013, taking fifth in both distance and sprint standings yet somehow only seventh overall. Has one World Cup podium in each of five different events.

Sprints

Celine Brun-Lie (Norway): Sixth in 2013 sprint standings, with a few podiums.

Maiken Caspersen Falla (Norway): Fourth in 2013 sprint standings, down from second in 2012. World Championships: Bronze in 2011 team sprint classical, bronze in 2013 sprint classical, fourth in 2013 team sprint free.

Ida Ingemarsdotter (Sweden): Decent World Cup results but saved her best for World Championships: 2011 team sprint classical gold, 2013 sprint classical silver and team sprint free silver. Also silver in relay each of the last two championships.

Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (Norway): Just turned 23. Third in 2013 sprint standings.

Kikkan Randall (USA): Back-to-back World Cup sprint champion. Also 10th in 2013 World Cup distance, moving her to third overall. Second in 2009 World Championship sprint free. World champion 2013 team sprint free (with Jessie Diggins). Definitely stronger in freestyle.

Distance races

Therese Johaug (Norway): Steady climb in World Cup overall: fourth in 2011, then third, then second. Two individual world championships — 2011 30k free, 2013 10k free. Four medals in 2013: the 10k free gold, relay gold, 15k silver, 30k classical bronze.

Charlotte Kalla (Sweden): Fourth overall in World Cup in 2008 and 2012. Olympic champion in 10k free; top 10 in two other 2010 races. Two team sprint World Championship medals and three relay medals.

Kristin Stoermer Steira (Norway): Tied career high with sixth place overall in 2013. Olympics: Relay gold and then FOUR fourth-place finishes between 2006 and 2010. Several World Championship medals, including world titles in relays.

Yulia Tchekaleva (Russia): Surprising third in 10k free in 2013 World Championships.

Heidi Weng (Norway): 22-year-old phenom was fifth in 2013 World Cup overall, fourth in distance. Bronze in 2013 World Championship 15k, fourth in 30k classical.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s