The ketchup effect is really in full swing for Kristine Stavås Skistad.
After the fast train from Konnerud won her first World Cup victory in the sprint in Les Rousses on January 28, she has been unbeaten in the World Cup sprints since then, winning four in a row.
Admittedly, the long-time sprint queen Jonna Sundling broke her winning streak when it mattered most in the WC sprint in Planica on a tough course, with loose conditions and not least with a hard entry to the run, instead of great speed which suits Stavås Skistad best.
But the 24-year-old has proven after the WC that she can handle all types of sprint tracks and in both styles, exemplified by the triumphs in Drammen, in Falun at the weekend and in Tallinn on Tuesday evening. There, Stavås Skistad kept up with Sundling even in the tough uphill – and beat the Swedish star on the run again.
– Kristine so explosive and fast, and she walks so smartly. She is as cunning as a fox in the field and makes very good tactical choices. Kristine does not consume a single calorie more than she has to. There she is at the top of the class, says Viaplay’s cross-country expert Niklas Dyrhaug to Dagbladet.
Stavås Skistad was wrecked for the team sprint in the WC in Planica, where Tiril Udnes Weng and Anne Kjersti Kalvå won the WC silver behind Sweden. Many wanted to see Stavås Skistad as the anchor woman there, as she has proven that she can sprint down Sundling if they enter the race equal, but the big question is whether the Konnerud girl has enough stamina to handle a team sprint well enough.
Ready for new tasks
Dyrhaug supports the scrapping of Stavås Skistad during the team sprint in Planica, but now believes that the time is ripe to let the 24-year-old try his hand at the team sprint in Lahti next Friday.
– I don’t think she should have been allowed to do the team sprint in the WC. In the WC we went with the best team. I think that Sjur Ole and Stig Rune hit incredibly well with the team sprint team in the WC. But I hope she gets to try her hand at the team sprint in Lahti, says the 35-year-old from Tydal:
– If she manages to save a lot of energy in the first laps and doesn’t set too much speed, I think she can do really well in a team sprint as well. What she showed at the weekend in Falun was on a tough course. She manages to be with Jonna Sundling on the uphills there and play on the run. Kristine is in such good shape that she can also hold up well in a team sprint.
– How big a difference is there in holding four heats in a sprint with longer breaks versus a team sprint with shorter breaks between the intervals?
– There is a difference. There will be even more capacity when the breaks are shorter. Then it requires you to have better endurance. Or that you have good endurance, and that you manage to save as much energy as possible until the last round. But it’s precisely the matter of saving energy and being tactically smart, that’s where Skistad is extremely good at being so young, Dyrhaug points out.
– Reminiscent of Northug
Stavås Skistad stands out in several areas as a cross-country skier:
Vidar Løfshus stated in the Dagbladet program “MaxPuls” that he believes that Skistad is even worse than Johannes Høsflot Klæbo in terms of starting speed.
For the competitors in international sprint cross-country skiing, Skistad is a nightmare to face. Several of the rivals have told Dagbladet earlier, already back in the breakthrough season in 2018/19.
The reason is that she always takes the top positions in the sprint heats from the first meter, by virtue of her acceleration, and that she then makes it very difficult for the competitors to pass her through her tactical dispositions and her physique.
Dyrhaug sees several similarities between Stavås Skistad and her role model, the long-standing sprint king Petter Northug, who revolutionized the sport with his way of walking.
– What Stavås Skistad shows in terms of qualities and personality on the trail, isn’t it common to see the women’s side in cross-country skiing?
– No, it is not. Kristine has the facts a bit like Petter Northug. I like that a lot. When she beat Sundling in Falun, she pointed a finger at the Swedish supporters. She showed who was the boss, says Niklas Dyrhaug to Dagbladet and adds:
– All that was missing was for her to start keeping quiet about them. That’s quite arrogant. She is a tough runner and a profile that we need in Norwegian skiing. She does things her way and is a little different.
– That’s why he started doping himself