FIS Cross-Country World Cup 2015/16 season preview
With no medals up for grabs in the 2015-16 FIS World Cup season, many athletes will be focusing on the pursuit of crystal globes. Despite there being no championships this year, the competition calendar still contains two Tour events. The 10th Edition of the Tour de Ski will begin with the new year on 1st January 2016 and the Ski Tour Canada will end the World Cup calendar 1-12 March 2016.
It always tough to guess at who will be a contender, but with many of the World Cup’s biggest names starting at least once already this season, it’s offered a glimpse into who is race ready, who is still building, or taking the season off. With less than one week to go until the official start of the 2015-16 FIS World Cup season in Ruka, most of the World Cup favourites look ready to go.
During the Beitostolen, Norway competition weekend Therese Johaug and Martin Johnsrud Sundby both the 2014 Tour de Ski and overall World Cup winner’s (and 2015 for Sundby) showed that they will be heavy favourites heading into this season. Petter Northug Jr, Astrid Jacobsen, Maiken Caspersen Falla, Eirik Brandsdal, Natalia Matveeva, Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, Robin Duvillard and Maurice Magnificat all showed that they were ready to contend in their respective events. Up and comers like Kari Oeyre Slind and Hans Christer Holund both of Norway let the World Cup regulars from their country know that they are ready to fight for podium positions.
Finland has hosted four FIS competitions already this season with Krista Parmakoski, Sami Jauhojarvi, Anne Kylloenen, the Niskanen siblings consistently battling for top spots on the podium. Charlotte Kalla (SWE) kicked off her competition season in dominant fashion recently winning 2 of 3 races in Bruksvallarna. Stina Nilsson was the only female to best Kalla in the sprint event showing that she will be a name to watch again this season in the sprint overall. Russian skiers Alexander Legkov, Maxim Vylegzhanin and Sergey Ustiugov started their season with victories in Saariselkae, Finland and Gaellivare, Sweden. Jessica Diggins of the US ski team won both tune up races in Gaellivare and looks to build on last year’s World Championship success.
Last season’s World Cup distance leader Dario Cologna was solid in Saariselkae but showed that he is still building into the season as Alex Harvey showed in Gaellivare.
On the ladies’ some big names will miss most if not all of the coming World Cup season due to pregnancy. Katja Visnar is due any day now with Marit Bjoergen to follow in December. Kikkan Randall has announced she is due in April followed by Aino-Kaisa Saarinen in May. Saarinen has raced this season and has expressed a desire to begin the World Cup season. Might we see Visnar or Bjoergen back by the end of the season?