Excitement is building in Prague as athletes from 29 nations prepare for four World Cup events in successive days, starting tomorrow. The first event, a Knock-Out Sprint, is a trial of the final form of this new format. This is a sprint-dominated World Cup final series with only one forest race (Middle distance), but that promises to be very technically demanding in an area with masses of huge sandstone boulders and cliffs.
In the women’s World Cup Tove Alexandersson, Sweden appears to have set up an unassailable lead through her big successes earlier in the season. Closest in the standings is Russia’s Natalia Gemperle, who lives in Switzerland and has no doubt done all she can to prepare for the challenges here, especially the Middle Distance. Third place will be fought for between Marika Teini, Finland, Karolin Ohlsson, Sweden and Sabine Hauswirth, Switzerland.
Just as for the last two years, it is Tove Alexandersson and the Swiss Matthias Kyburz heading the standings at the start of the World Cup final round. Kyburz leads compatriot Daniel Hubmann by 25 points, with Norway’s Olav Lundanes a further 20 points down. Lundanes recently won the Finnish Sprint Championships, so maybe he has worked hard on his speed this year and could challenge at the top in sprint as well as forest formats. We’ll see! These three athletes hold a big lead over fourth-placed Gustav Bergmann, Sweden. Home hero Vojtech Kral is currently seventh in the standings and has a fine chance to advance his placing with good results on home terrain, no doubt buoyed up by plenty of local support.
The Sprint Relay on Friday in a part of Prague, as for the Knock-Out Sprint, will be keenly contested as always. Prior to this final event in the team-event series, Switzerland holds a lead of 45 points over Norway. So Norway must win, with Switzerland fourth or lower, for Norway to take overall victory. However Sweden’s points total is just 7 down on that of Norway – so Sweden too has a chance of overall victory if the Swiss team fails to come good on the day.
This website will carry reports and leading results on each day of competition. For full information about the races see www.wcup.cz.
All four competitions at the World Cup Final will be broadcast live.
GUIDE: Follow the World Cup Final 2018 live