Whichever way you slice it, the 15k mass start race at Tour de Ski on Thursday is bound to be remembered and talked about for a long time.
For those who missed the “show” from German Oberstdorf: the rain turned the ski track into a distant cousin of skating rink while curvy downhills made the race totally unpredictable affair.
Even flats were dangerous: no lesser athlete than Heidi Weng fell at the last meters of the distance, seemingly without a reason.
Swedish Aftonbladet has summed it all up in one phrase “Chaosloppet The mass start in Oberstdorf was chaotic, crazy with dangerous crashes and incidents”
Marcus Hellner ( fell on the distsance) “It was a strange race…. People fell and people broke every piece of equipment possible”
Niklas Dyrhaug ( fell several times and broke both skis) “I suppose the organizers understand that it was a wrong decision to run a mass start race on this course today. It was way too narrow, we did not get enough space!”
Off to Val di Fiemme after an interesting race in Oberstdorf! Fairly happy with 6th & taking quite a few bonus seconds at the intermediate sprints… But a bit disappointed to not quite be in the fight for the win. On the bright side at least I kept all my equipment intact! pic.twitter.com/4QEiowX4Uo
— Andrew Musgrave (@musgraveandrew) January 4, 2018
Daniel Rickardsson ( fell twice, broke poles) “It was a parody of ski racing. Was probably the worst race I’ve ever been to.”
Sergey Ustiugov ( fell trice, including being cut by another skier during the last climb) has said a lot, but, according to his coach Markus Cramer, none of that is printable.
Guess who was happy, if obviously tongue-n’ cheek? Emil Iversen who managed to avoid mass falls and broken poles to come first to the finish^
“Oberstdorf is a crazy place, but I like it very well, I think we had nice conditions today. The organizers will hear a lot of praise ”
Naturally, athletes themselves are not happy – who wants to compete in a rain, on dangerous track less than five weeks ahead of the Olympics?
But what about viewers and fans? Did they get their daily fix of strong emotions watching Obertdorf 15k today?
On Russian Openski website, the country’s favorite water cooler chat space for all things xc ski with hundreds of daily comments, the opinion split sharply between those who demand an end to “ unsafe and unsportmanlike” races and those who argue that falls and unexpected winners add to popularity of cross country skiing