Experts' corner: Kaisa Makarainen

Impressed by the French women and phenomenal fans in Nove Mesto, Kaisa Makarainen, three-time Total Score winner, explains the challenges of wet snow conditions, the importance of physical power, and the difficult task for the waxers. She also uncovers why the Swedes might break through in week 2.

It has been a very nice first week of these Championships. The weather is not the best, the organisers had to do extra work to stage the competitions, but the atmosphere is fantastic. The results were not too surprising. But it was still incredible to see four French women in the first four spots in the Sprint!

French women were truly remarkable in the first week. Although they were strong in the first two Trimesters, it was not effortless for them to bring such high-level performance to the World Championships. And we are not talking just about Justine (Braisaz-Bouchet) or Julia (Simon): the whole team is peaking in Nove Mesto. Sturla Holm Laegreid surprised me with the win in the Sprint. I mean, as much as any Norwegian can surprise you with a win:)

The weather has significantly affected the dynamics. We need to know that on the first Monday, the course was closed, and the team just had Tuesday to test materials. It was tough on the waxers. With wet conditions, the tracks are always heavy: without Fluor it must have been even more challenging to prepare the skis. Some bigger teams have not yet found a formula to prepare the skis for this snow. They will want to use any free day to get the combination right. Although the course profile in Nove Mesto is not among the toughest, these conditions are unforgiving. We could see who has the energy to push through the pain. We also saw how exhausted were the athletes after they crossed the finish line!

The second week brings new chances for medals. If I were competing, I would take Monday off before the Women’s 15km Individual and go for a light jog. Any unnecessary skiing on this snow is an energy drain for the body. But with the stands packed and fans close to the tracks, athletes will find the energy reserves for the last four competitions. Nove Mesto is such a special place because of the fans. The night races make the atmosphere even more intense: as an athlete, you hear the wall of noise, and then it is just you and the target under the lights. Who might get into the medals in the second week? The Swedes were close in all individual competitions. They will break through eventually.

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