The Swiss men and the Swedish women are the biggest favourites in the WOC sprint – but it is difficult to point out THE big favourite both in the mens and the womens class. Can Kyburz impress the same way he did early this spring? Is the quite flat Chambery sprint made for Lysell? Is Helena Jansson 100% back from her injuries?
The sprint is the most difficult discipline to predict the winner as it is really tight – and a small mistake can often be enough to loose the gold medal. I’ll still give it a try – but can’t even be 100% sure that the winner is on my list.
- The Swedish women have been very strong this year. Linnea Gustafsson (startnumber 1) has to be on the favourite list based on her victory in the first World Cup race – and she has also impressed in other sprint races this season. Helena Jansson is the only one of last years medalists on the startlist – and had a very good season opening before she was injured and struggled in May and June. She was back in training in late June, and showed at the Swiss O-week that she is in good shape again. But will it be good enough for gold? Lena Eliasson has also been strong earlier this year (2nd and 3rd in the first World Cup races), but is probably not as big a favourite as the two other Swedes.
- Galina Vinogradova was very strong in the KnockOut sprint in Göteborg – and has taken steps all the way towards the top.
- The Danish women are also very strong in sprint. Maja Alm was 9th at WOC 2010 sprint, took the bronze in EOC 2010 sprint, and had a good start in the World Cup. Ida Bobach is still a junior – winning JWOC sprint – and she also took a third place in the World Cup final sprint last year. Ready for the podium?
- Eva Jurenikova is also one of the outsiders – getting closer and closer to the medals. Is this Jurenikova’s year?
- The Norwegian women are not the hottest gold favourites, but both Elise Egseth and Betty Ann Bjerkreim Nilsen are up there fighting for the medals.
- The Finnish women have not impressed that much earlier this season – Anni-Maija Fincke might also be one of the outsiders.
- The biggest question is if someone can beat the Swiss? 5 men on top in the first sprint this year – and they did even not find room for Fabian Hertner who took silver last year. Matthias Kyburz was very impressive in the first World Cup race this year – and also did well in the qualification races. Daniel Hubmann nearly always takes a medal if he is in good shape – but the gold medals have not come that easy for him. He still is among the biggest favourites. Matthias Merz was second in the first World Cup race behind Kyburz – also a big favourite. The last Swiss – Matthias Müller – is actually the reigning World Champion in sprint. He has performed very well this year – but still he is probably the outsider among the Swiss – that about says it all…
- Andrey Khramov is a man for the big occations. He has gold medal from all the last 6 World Championships – either in sprint, long or relay. He can very well take another one on the sprint this year.
- The Swedish must be included among the favourites – especially Jerker Lysell who won the KnockOut sprint in Göteborg and has impressed in flat sprints earlier. But is it maybe too technical? William Lind should also be remembered.
- Also don’t forget the French home favourite Fred Tranchand. Very impressive bronze medal last year – but is his shape still that good? We will know more after the qualification.
- Øystein Kvaal Østerbø is very hungry for a medal after beeing close on homeground. He is one of the outsiders for a medal – but the gold medal might be too difficult. Don’t forget him though – if he gets the perfect race…
- Scott Fraser is a very fast British runner who has steadily been getting closer to the absolute World elite.
Looking at the two sprints which have been run in the World Cup this year, we had Matthias Kyburz (SUI) and Linnea Gustafsson (SWE) on top at the first. In the mens class we did even have 5 Swiss men first – Kyburz ahead of Merz, Hertner (who did not qualify for the WOC sprint), Müller and Hubmann. The best non-Swiss runner was William Lind in 6th. Among the women we had three Swedish women on top – Linnea Gustafsson, Lena Eliasson and Annika Billstam. In 4th we had Signe Søes and Rahel Friedrichs in 5th.
In the second sprint of the World Cup – which was a KnockOut sprint, Jerker Lysell (SWE) and Galina Vinogradova (RUS) topped the list. In the mens class Hubmann, Kyburz, Fraser, Tranchand and Merz were the next 5 on the list – among the women Gustafsson, Eliasson, Alm, Billstam and Fasting.
Looking at last years WOC, we had Müller in top ahead of Hertner (not running this year) and Tranchand – Østerbø and Johansson were just outside the medals. The women’s sprint was won by Simone Niggli (not running) ahead of Jansson, Marianne Andersen (not running), Minna Kauppi (not running) and Elise Egseth.
Thanks to Tam for help setting up the list of favourites.