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I haven't followed the world cup in a long time- Amateur- I liked your write up, I didn't know about the pursuit style races, and the sprints seem new as well. Since I haven't paid a lot of attention "new" could be 10 years old... X-country can be difficult to watch as a fan, I wouldn't be surprised if the sprint and pursuit races were added to drum up fan interest. turnip
posted by turnip at 08:23 AM on February 09
I raced x-country in highschool right when the change from classical to skating occurred (late 80s) very interesting time, Gunde Svan won a world cup race using one giant pole if I remember correctly. The swedes were amazing then. Waxing for classical style is a serious art. You basically have to match a wax ( or waxes) to a combination of snow crystal shapes and temperatures. Made all the more difficult as the snow crystals and temperatures vary throughout the course and during the race. There were 3 major brands of wax, about 30 kinds of wax in each brand, all with subtle differences. Some waxes cover a larger range than others, some are faster in certain conditions etc. And then you have the combinations of one wax under another, mixing brands etc. Applying the waxes properly is difficult. The right wax on a given day is also dependent on a particular skier's technique and skis. Because most races were interval start the waxes would change throughout the race, with races going first using different waxes than racers going last. Coaches would stand at the start/finish and add final touches, while polling finishing racers. In longer events other coaches further a field would have a small selection of waxes in case someone was struggling. It's a huge part of the sport that is pretty invisible to the casual fan, races are definitely won and lost based on waxing decisions. My coaches claimed that part of the reason that Bill Koch won the silver in the 1976 Olympics was that the Americans nailed the wax (actually it was an obscure no-wax treatment), and several of the other nations missed it. The biggest stars probably have their own wax/ski technicians. sorry for the long post
posted by turnip at 04:23 PM on February 08
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