NOV 30, 2020
After the past season was called short in March amid the corona chaos, the entire Nordic community was basically grounded: material testing, altitude training and all the other common off-season programs were either cancelled or improvised as much as possible. Overall, it was a solid start to the new season for the Atomic Nordic team in Ruka, Finland. Now the athletes know where they stand. And they all seem to agree: The 2020-21 winter is a bit of a lottery in terms of planning due to COVID-19, and all eyes are on the Nordic World Ski Championships 2021 in Oberstdorf.
Peter Landl, Atomic’s Nordic Race Manager says that the current situation is unheard-of in Nordic skiing: “Never before have athletes started into a season with this little benchmark in terms of where they stand compared to the rest of the world. Due to COVID-19 international events were cancelled, many altitude trainings and material tests that form part of the usual preparation routine were called off. Most teams had to train at home and make the best out of whatever was possible in their countries,“ he says and explains why the performances at the World Cup opener in Ruka (FIN) should be viewed with caution. “Of course, this was the first outing away from the bubbles and as such an important assessment. However, most nations and athletes fully focus on the highlight of this hard-to-plan pandemic winter: the Nordic World Ski Championships in Oberstdorf in three months’ time – that makes a huge difference for getting in shape.”
PRETTY HAPPY ABOUT FIRST ASSESSMENT
Landl is all the more happy about the Atomic lineup’s solid performance on the opening weekend. In Nordic Combined Manuel Faisst particularly stood out with three top 5 results in all three competitions in Ruka. Fabian Riessle finished 2nd in the last event. Franz-Josef Rehrl kicked his season off with places 4, 11 and 13, while Lukas Greiderer and Thomas Jöbstl also took home top 12 results.
Russian Evgenij Belov is one of the Atomic Cross Country athletes who want to slowly build up their form towards the World Champs. Still, he crossed the finish line as 8th in both the classic 15 km race and the pursuit – a pretty awesome achievement! And even though Atomic Olympic champion Simen Hegstad Krueger is not a huge fan of Ruka, he also gave proof of his skills with the fourth fastest time in the pursuit. Norwegian Lotta Udnes-Weng’s 4th place in the sprint wrapped up a successful weekend for Atomic in Finland.
So what’s next? Peter Landl: “In terms of material we are top, that has been confirmed. We were lucky to do a lot of testing on the Dachstein glacier in spring. The World Cup season will remain challenging. First, because it is so hard to make plans, so we need to be super flexible. Second, because there will be less and less competitors – COVID-19 affects the lungs and Nordic athletes don’t want to take any risks. They all want to participate at the World Championships and they want to be fit. For now, the World Cup in Davos in 2 weeks is confirmed and so are the sprints in Dresden a week later.”