Oscar Kardin leads skiers into Xiwuqi

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As Anders Hoegberg will not travel to Inner Mongolia this year, yesterday's second-placed Oscar Kardin is the one to watch as China Tour de Ski continues in Xiwuqi tomorrow, 4 January. Kardin, his 21st birthday only coming up in two weeks, may be disappointed by having lost Vasaloppet China by merely half a second, but has certainly not missed his debut in China.

Technically, Hoegberg tops the China Tour de Ski ranking with 100 points, 20 more than Kardin. In third place with 60 points is Bill Impola, and looming back in fourth is Finland's Kusti Kittilae, who finished second overall in last year's China Tour de Ski. Of the abovementioned skiers, Kittilae on paper seems to have a better track record than Kardin and Impola in the freestyle discipline, which contrary to the classic style in Changchun will be adopted for the rest of the Tour. The Swedes should fear Kittilae in any case, as he was second in Xiwuqi's 5km distance race last winter behind Hoegberg, and thus knows how to race the loop there.

One factor to be reckoned with in Xiwuqi is the wind, which is always a little stronger than elsewhere on the Tour. Temperatures have also been on the low side in recent days with even minus 31 recorded yesterday morning. Even though it warms up during the competition hours of the day, it will be icy. Xiwuqi traditionally hosts two stages: a 5km distance race tomorrow afternoon, and a sprint competition on Friday morning.

The start and finish arena in Xiwuqi: ready to host stages 2 and 3 of this year's China Tour de Ski