Sunday, December 29, 2013

Martin Møller Fanklubb

Sometimes we want to go ski racing, but there's no snow.  And that's a bummer. When these situations arise, we have several options.  We can get all our buddies together and pool our money for a snowmaking system, or we can get all our buddies together to haul snow to the place where we want to go skiing.  Or we can think outside the box and do something totally different.  Like the Japanese, for example.  They built the first bullet train and they invented sushi.  This is not a group of people to be confined by convention. And I don't need to understand Japanese to know that when they don't have snow, they find other (arguably more interesting) uses for ski jumps than their prescribed use, as demonstrated in this video:


In Germany, however, they stay a little closer to convention. That's why, when there was no snow in Oberhof for this weekend's World Cup race, the race committee didn't just mosey off to the ski jumps with a bunch of old car tires for an afternoon of fun. No, they fired up the snowmaking system to produce a little ski loop and changed the 15k race into sprint race.  The snow wasn't quite ready for skiing the day before the race, so they sent the athletes indoors for official training in their ski tunnel. (I bet Japan doesn't have one of those.)

Speaking of Oberhof, our old friend Lasse was in Oberhof over the weekend, with the goal of meeting the qualifying standard so that he could represent Denmark in the Olympics next month.  And he did it! He met the standard, scoring 97 FIS points in the Tour de Ski prologue!  So he's in, right?  He made the Olympic Team?  Well, not quite. There's more to the story...

Anyone who's been to Greenland knows that Greenland is an autonomous country within the kingdom of Denmark. As such, they control their own internal affairs, but their international affairs are under the control of the Danish parliament.  My point is that Greenlandic athletes compete for Denmark.

In Greenland, there lives a man who calls himself Martin Møller.  But others call him "The Fastest Man in Greenland." (It's true - I found it on the internet.) Just like our friend Lasse, Mr. Møller has also met the Danish Olympic qualifying standard. But what's more, he's also beaten our Lasse in every single head-to-head matchup they've had this year.  Currently, Denmark is granted only one Olympic skiing berth.  So it would seem clear that Martin Møller is currently the obvious choice for this one spot.  I don't presume to know all the intricacies of the Danish selection criteria, but it seems to me that there would have to be a dramatic shift in the world of Danish skiing for this situation to change.

Martin Møller, Fastest Man in Greenland.
But wait! you say, why does Denmark only have one spot?  Why not two spots?  How could they get two spots so both could go?  Well, that question has been asked, and here's my basic understanding of the answer:  Mr. Møller, last year at this time, was ranked 735th in the world in sprinting.  But by springtime, he was ranked 490th with 133 FIS sprint points. This year, he's had a bunch of races well below 100 points (though most of those appear to be in distance events).  It's my understanding that if Martin Møller achieves a ranking within the top 300 in the world in sprinting, then Denmark will be allocated an additional Olympic berth and both Martin and Lasse will be on the Danish Olympic Team. (Why sprinting?  I don't know. Remember, this blog is mostly stuff I make up, rumors, and outright lies.)  Now, I'm no Stephen Hawking and I haven't tried to do the math on this, but from the looks of the FIS athlete bio (check it here) Mr. Møller is skiing considerably faster than he has since 2005, so maybe he'll make the top 300.

So what does all this mean to you, sitting there at your computer reading this, you ask?  This means that if you've been a fan of our Lasse Mølgaard-Nielsen, you are now, by default, a big fan of Martin Møller!  (Not that you shouldn't have been a fan already.  I've been to his hometown of Nuuk, and I found the city to be full of friendly, generous people, of which Martin Møller is probably one.)  If you want our Lasse to be on the Danish Olympic Team, you'll want to be sending all your positive energy not only to Lasse, but to Martin, too. But isn't that the way it is with teams anyway?  When one does well, it helps everyone on the team.

So that's the situation in the world of Danish ski racing at the moment, as I understand it.  Møller and Mølgaard are currently in a car on their way to Lenzerheide, Switzerland for a little training camp before their next races. Stay tuned...

Meanwhile, unlike Oberhof and Japan, we have plenty of snow around here. And it looks like there was plenty of snow in Whitehorse for Étienne's races last weekend. The paparazzi were out, and these photos found their way to my desk:

I'm pretty sure it's Étienne's first race in a Seawolf zoot suit.
And finally, in local news, the UAA Ski Team left Alaska late last night on a jet bound for Utah.  By now I'm sure they're getting settled in at their team house in the town of Midway, and will begin acclimatizing to the higher altitude at Soldier Hollow's Olympic trails and trying to get used to seeing the sun again.  The team's first race at the US National Championships is this coming Saturday. I'll be flying down to meet the team on Thursday. More updates will be forthcoming.

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