Expert's corner: Arnd Peiffer

Olympic gold medalist Arnd Peiffer speaks about skiing after two weeks in Oestersund. About the speed of Swedes. About the signature skiing style of the French and Norwegian team. About the hidden combat of skiing materials which Norway wants to win back in Hochfilzen. About Lisa Theresa Hauser's turnaround. About his former colleagues in the German team. About what change of the venue can mean, and that it can bring back the real Tiril Eckhoff and Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold.

After the two weeks in Oestersund, we have to talk about skiing! Especially about the impressive skiing form of the Swedish team. Elvira Oeberg and Sebastian Samuelsson were constantly the fastest, Hanna Oeberg was also flying in the pursuit. 

I have spoken to Johannes Lukas, the Swedish head coach, and they have further optimised the training process and logistics. He explained that his team traveled less in the summer and staged most of the training camps in Sweden. They learned from the COVID-19 summer in 2020 and saved nine days of traveling this summer. 

We can observe that five men regularly clock fast times in the French team. It is easy to see a signature technique that comes with their skiing. The same is true for Norway. Body posture, the use of poles, when and where they put pressure on the skis in skating are trademarks of the Norwegian team. That is beautiful to notice. It comes as a surprise that Sweden and France are both faster than Norway at this stage of the season. It might come down to the material and work of technicians. I am sure that Norway will do everything within their powers to get the crown as the fastest team back already in Hochfilzen. 

Speaking of Norway: we can see that their women are not yet in the form they showed last season. Marte Olsbu Roeiseland had a good win in the pursuit, but there was nothing (yet) to be seen of the Tiril Eckhoff from last season. We all remember her winning form from the second half of the last season, but don’t forget: her start in Kontiolahti wasn't strong either. 

The German team opened the season reasonably well but lacks the ski speed yet. Franziska Preuss' performance is remarkably consistent. Denise Herrmann will improve her speed.. as she uses the competitions as intensity training units. Vanessa Voigt, who ranks as the third-best German woman at the moment, Philipp Nawrath, Roman Rees, and Johannes Kuehn, who came straight from the IBU Cup and finished Top 15 twice, all earned their Olympic norm already.

The caravan now moves to Hochfilzen with a World Cup leader from Austria. Lisa Theresa Hauser’s yellow bib is not too big of a surprise to me. She was always an accurate shooter and she became competitive in skiing last season. Hauser became much more athletic; she invested heavily in her power training in the summer. 

The change from Scandinavia to Austria always marks a new beginning and opportunity for the athletes who haven't performed well, to hit the reset button. However, those who feel tired will hardly have the time to recover. Four days - including traveling - are usually not enough time for a substantial recovery. But, I would definitely keep an eye out for Tiril Eckhoff and Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold, who could show up rejuvenated in Hochfilzen. They like the sun in Hochfilzen.

Photo: IBU/C. Manzoni

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