Nations Cup: 3017 (6th)
Men: 1468 (9th)
Women: 1549 (8th)
After a disastrous Tour de Ski which saw only Zeller finish out of the seven women to start the Tour and Reichelt and Filbrich out of the 12 men, the German squad managed to turn their season around and finish the season with their heads held high by winning the bronze medal in the men’s 4 x 10km relay. The German men have consistently been one of the strongest foursome’s over the past few years and with Angerer, Teichmann and Filbrich agreeing to ski through to Sochi, the ski world should continue to ski many medals around German necks. On the women’s side, the retirement of Nystad was a massive blow, but the depth of the German women did a good job minimized the void left by the two veterans. This year should be another very strong year for the German’s with no athletes retiring and another year more experienced.
If you want to be picky, the men’s sprint team is the weakest of the four quadrants. It seems like the men are in a constant state of transition, but never seem to get past it. Josef Wenzl (33rd in sprint ranking) was the top German and earned 74 World Cup points from five races. At 26-years old Wenzl will be hoping to have more World Cup starts, as last year he split his time between the World Cup and the Alpen Cup.
The 21-year old Sebastian Eisenlauer (62nd ranked) is still fairly raw with only three World Cup starts, but managed a 15th place in Liberec should get more races under his belt this season. At the age of 24-years old, Daniel Heun (63rd ranked) will be looking to spend more time on the World Cup rather than the Alpen Cup, but he’ll have to up his game and qualify in more than three races.
The German women have very good depth in their sprint team with Herrman (23rd), Zeller (26th), Fessel (33st), youngster Hanna Kolb (35th), Boehler (39th) and Lucia Anger (63rd) all scoring points last season.
Last year Denis Herrmann made the move to become a World Cup regular and she made the most of it. Her first year on the circuit saw her finish in the top 30 six times including a 9th place in Rybinsk and I expect her to be a top 20 finisher on a regular basis this season. It’s also important to note that she is much stronger in the freestyle discipline and only managed to qualify for one classical race last year.
Zeller, Fessel and Boehler serve as the veterans on the women’s team while 19-year olds Anger and Kolb are World Junior stand-outs and are the future of the women’s sprint team. Their names will ones that will become very familiar with ski fans everywhere in time.
Germany has a very rich history of late with distance skiers and their team is the strongest it’s been in years which is saying something. Their point totals from last season are a little mis-representative of their true abilities as only Filbrich was the only athlete able to top 150 distance points last year. Now that Goering is back to form after taking the 2009-2010 season off due to a broken leg, the men have six very capable skiers in their team with Filbrich (23rd), Teichmann (28th), Angerer (29th), Reichelt (31st), Tscharnke (36th), Goering (42nd).
They also have 21-year old Hannes Dotzler (60th) who got some valuable World Cup experience last year and will be looking for more World Cup starts, but it’ll be difficult for him as he has six high-calibre athletes ahead of him in the pecking order.
Many of the women are all-rounders which means that the distance team is very similar to the sprinters. Last year, 31-year old Zeller (15th) lead the way with an impressive six top 10 finishes and earned 273 World Cup points. She was closely followed by Fessel (20th) who had a career year and earned her first World Cup podium as she came 2nd in the Kuusamo handicap start.
One athlete that will be looking to improve on last year is Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle (40th) who had a horrible season by all accounts. Like much of the German team, she battled sickness around the Tour de Ski. She is usually in the mix with the best of them, but last year only finished in the top 30 four times and her seasonal best of 9th in Rybinsk, which is always a weak field. Stefanie Boehler (33rd) is another athlete who took a couple of steps back last year. With the talent she possesses, she should be finishing in the top 20 on a regular basis and she only managed to do that three times last year.
Denis Hermann (44th) is another athlete that will continue to improve this year and should be fighting to earn a spot on the relay team.
The future is very bright for Germany as their men’s and women’s relay teams finished 4th and 3rd respectively at World Juniors. On the women’s side, Anger and Kolb will be looking to make the step up to the big leagues immediately. On the men’s side, distance skiers Jonas Dobler and managed a 4th in the 10km free in Otepaa while Markus Weeger appears to be a super-star in the making as he won the 20km pursuit and finished 2nd in the 10km free at World Juniors.
Things are looking good for Germany; they have the depth and talent in both the men’s and women’s teams. Apart from the male sprint team, Germany should have a very good season this year and with the likes of Kolb, Anger and Weeger turning into excellent skiers, the stream of high-calibre athletes will keep the German squad strong for many years to come.