You know what a buzzword of the year in international sport is?. It’s “Mixed-Gender”
Although not yet mixed gender in a true sense( like at the Boston marathon where women and men compete together at the same time & distance), those events have more than just a sporting value
Says IOC President Thomas Bach
“ Sport is a powerful platform to foster gender equality and empower women and girls both on and off the field of play. This is a key mission of the International Olympic Committee.”
Little surprise thеn that soon enough at the Olympics in PyeongChang we will see mixed team events in luge, curling and even alpine skiing to name but a few.
Biathlon, xc skiing’s richer cousin, would have the mixed relay in Korea – it has proven to be a huge success with fans and broadcasters alike.
Guess which sport is missing on that list?
The demand is not only “from above” i.e. the IOC – but from the “masses” too.
That is if Sergey Ustiugov could be added to that category. In a recent interview with a Russian Sport-Express the world champion in team relay, asked what races he’d like to see added, opined that the only thing he’d add would be a mixed team relay in sprint. “ It would be a highly watchable event and Russia would have a great medal chance”
We want to seize the idea from the leading Russian skier and, in our very own version of Ski Fantasy League, would like to speculate who’d be favorites were such mixed event to be held in Korea this year.
Gold. Ustiugov was totally correct talking about “Russia’s chance for a medal” Because nobody in his or her right mind would put money on anything but a Norwegian victory
Johannes Høsflot Klæbo looks simply unbeatable this season, classic or freestyle
There would be no shortage of strong female skiers for the event, but we’d give the slot to the reigning Olympic & world champion Maiken Caspersen Falla
Silver. That one would probably go to Russia. Much as the skiing world is impressed with Alexander Bolshunov this season, Ustiugov’s slot looks indisputable.
Yulia Belorukova’s claim to the spot in the team looks stronger than Natalya Nepryaeva’s – it was Belorukova’s uphill sprint that gave the Russians silver medal in Lahti last year.
Bronze. Finland. The Suomi squad is the one that would stand to benefit the most from the mixed gender sprint relay – but with one caveat” if I were to be held in classic style”
Krista Pärmäkoski is equally strong in both classic and freestyle, and her three Top Ten results this season attest to it.
The Olympic champion of Sochi Iivo Niskanen has a well known preference of classic style. Ristomatti Hakola, however, starts to look very strong in freestyle, so would give bronze to Finland regardless.
Other medal contenders.
There are not many, actually. Several hitherto strong teams look very lopsided this season.
Stina Nilsson looks exceptionally strong this season and even Charlotte Kalla, while not a sprinter, would still be a force to reckon with. Sweden’s men team, however, looks utterly unimpressive so far. Perhaps, in classic style mixed gender relay Sweden would have a medal chance with Calle Halfvarsson on the team.
US Ski team made a quantum leap forward on female side – but it’s not matched by the American men.
Laurien van der Graaff just showed her potential in freestyle sprint – but are the Swiss men, particularly Jovian Hediger ready to fight for the medal?
Alex Harvey of Canada and Federico Pellegrino of Italy are top contenders in any sprint events – but where are Canadian and Italian female skiers this season?! France also has very strong men’s side inclusive of Lucas Chanavat and Richard Jouve but an utter lack of equally strong ladies leaves Les Bleus with no chance. Bundesmannschaft Deutschland, such a strong contender on previous Olympics, simply disintegrated – there’s not a single German in the current FIS men sprint standings.