Markus Cramer, Man Who Coached Cologna And Now Coaches Ustiugov

Markus Cramer made his name by coaching then little known Dario Cologna to overall World Cup victory in 2008/2009 and , later, to the golden medal of the Olympics in Vancouver in 2010.

Before that he brought a virtually unknown Swiss female squad to bronze medals in the 4 × 5 km relay at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2012

Cramer with old friends & colleagues from the German ski team

But now, just a few weeks ahead of the Pyeonchang Olympics, a 54 year old German specialist finds himself in a limbo.

Several skiers that Cramer coached in the recent years – namely Alexander Legkov and Evgeny Belov are stripped of their Sochi medals and banned from the Games ( the Court of Arbitration for Sport is hearing their appeal this week).

Others from the Cramer’s group – including arguably the world’s most successful skier of the last season Sergey Ustiugov – are not accused of any wrongdoing – but have to wait till the very last day to hear whether they are invited by the IOC to participate in the Olympics as “neutral athletes” – or not.

Cramer with the head of the Russian ski federation, Elena Vyalbe.

The DailySkier catches up with Cramer at the World Cup race in Dresden – and asks how’s he feeling about the whole situation.

“This is a crazy, crazy situation” says Cramer. “ We hope at least all the young skiers – Ustiugov (Alexander) Bolshunov, (Alexey) Chervotkin, ( Denis) Spitsov as well as ( Andrey) Larkov will be allowed to take part in the Games, but we won’t know until the last moment, it looks like”

and you, personally – are you going to Pyeonchang? “ Same – I have no idea” smiles Cramer his characteristic shy smile. “May be I will go as a tourist”

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. Everybody wants to know what races will Ustiugov, one of the most universal skiers on the current world circuit, run? “ Skiathlon and both sprints – not sure about the other races yet”

Sergey Alexandrovich Ustiugov’s Russia’s Sportsman of the Year & Cramer’s star pupil

Clearly, Ustiugov will be expected to anchor the Russian effort in the relay – some say his battle against Finn Hågen Krogh was the most exciting moment of Lahti 2017. The Russian men’s squad – regardless the loss of Legkov, Vylegzhanin, Belov and another veteran, Alexander Bessmertnykh – looks exceptionally strong this season.

Who are the main competitors? “Exactly who you would expect – ( Johannes) Klaebo, ( Martin) Sundby – and resurgent Dario Cologna, Tour de Ski winner of this year.” Cramer thinks for a second then adds – “Poltoranin too. He will be hard to beat in skiathlon”

But Ustiugov is highly motivated and has recovered from the injuries he sustained in now-infamous “khaosolopptet” in Oberstdorf earlier in January ( “ The organizers should have cancelled that mass-start race and held sprints instead – the track wasn’t wide enough for so many skiers”)

And Germans? When shall we expect to see new Bundesmannschaft’s angerers and teichmanns? “ Not soon”, sighs Cramer – “biathlon siphons off all the talent – they’ve got a lot more money and better resources in general. I hope the German cross country skiing will rebound – but not soon”

Meanwhile, all Cramer’s thoughts are on Korea. If only he knew whether he and his skiers are actually going!

Cramer and assistant coach Egor Sorin want to show the world that they might be down – but definitely not out!
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