The 2013 Nordic World Ski Championships, a biennial winter sports event that brings the Nordic region and other parts of Europe to a standstill, will take place in the Italian region of Val di Fiemme from 20 February to 3 March.
Val di Fiemme fended off competition from Falun in Sweden, Lahti in Finland, Oberstdorf in Germany and Zakopane in Poland to get the nod from the International Ski Federation to host the 2013 Nordic World Ski Championships. Val di Fiemme hosted the 1991 and 2003 editions of the event.
As one would expect given their name, the Nordic World Ski Championships have been dominated by Norway, Finland and Sweden. The Norwegians top the all-time Nordic World Ski Championships medal table with 107 gold, 89 silver and 89 bronze. The Finns are second on 62 gold, 69 silver and 62 bronze, while the Swedes are third on 41 gold, 33 silver and 40 bronze. All up, Norway, Finland and Sweden have won 56.2% of the Nordic World Ski Championships gold medals and 52.8% of the Nordic World Ski Championships medals of any colour.
A record-breaking 23 events are on the 2013 Nordic World Ski Championships program, so it is time to pick out what look like the best bets across the dozen days of competition.
Kowalczyk In Pole Position
Justyna Kowalczyk is going to take a lot of beating in the women’s individual cross country races. The 30-year-old Pole leads this season’s overall World Cup standings by a wide margin, topping the distance ladder and occupying second position in the sprint standings. Not only that but the two-time world champion has an impressive Val di Fiemme record, winning the 10-kilometre classic mass start competitions there in each of the last three years.
Interestingly, most bookmakers trading early 2013 Nordic World Ski Championships markets are favouring Norway’s Therese Johaug over Kowalczyk so the Pole represents excellent value. Johaug is ranked second this term. (Prices are from Bet365.com).
Petter Northug is a warm favourite for many of the 2013 Nordic World Ski Championships men’s individual cross country contests but there appears to be some value in backing this season’s World Cup leader, Dario Cologna, to upset the Norwegian. The Swiss heads both the distance and overall World Cup competitions and he has raced well in Val di Fiemme recently, placing third in the 20-kilometre mass start race in 2012 and second 12 months earlier than that.
Franco-American Is Nordic Combined Man To Beat
Eric Frenzel and Jason Lamy Chappuis won the 2011 Nordic World Ski Championships men’s individual Nordic combined gold medals and the German and the Frenchman are first and second respectively in this term’s World Cup competition.
Lamy Chappuis has the superior Val di Fiemme form – the United States of America-born 26-year-old won an event at the Italian venue last year – so he is the man to beat.
Of the longer priced competitors, Mikko Kokslien could be worth a nibble at big odds. The Norwegian is seventh in this season’s World Cup rankings but he was on the podium in both of the World Cup contests staged at Val di Fiemme in 2012.
With Germans filling four of the top 12 positions in this term’s World Cup standings, Germany is the obvious pick to take out the men’s team competitions. In addition to Frenzel (first), Tino Edelmann (sixth), Bjoern Kircheisen (eighth) and Johannes Rydzek (12th) are flying high this season.
Schlierenzauer And Takanashi Worthy Favourites
It is difficult to look past Gregor Schlierenzauer for the probable winner of the 2013 Nordic World Ski Championships men’s ski jumping gold medals. The Austrian has won five titles since making his debut at the 2007 edition in Sapporo and he leads this term’s World Cup competition as a result of his Four Hills Tournament performances. Schlierenzauer placed first in Bischofshofen and Innsbruck and second in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Oberstdorf to overhaul Anders Jacobsen and run out a convincing champion. A man for the big occasion, Schlierenzauer had won the 2011-2012 Four Hills Tournament in equally impressive fashion.
Women’s ski jumping is a relatively recent addition to the Nordic World Ski Championships schedule, debuting in 2009 when Lindsey Van won the women’s individual normal hill title. Daniela Iraschko is the defending champion but it would be a surprise if anyone beat Sara Takanashi, Japan’s teenage ski jumping phenomenon. The 16-year-old has won this season’s World Cup title – she is so far in front that he cannot be caught – and she knows how to handle the pressure associated with a major event, striking gold at the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games.