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The Hoddle of Coffee: Tottenham news and links for Tuesday, February 22

Cross-country skiers are incredible athletes

Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Good morning and happy Twos-day, hoddlers! Just look at all these twos (22/02/22 or 02/22/22). It’s a wonderful thing to see.

You know, I didn’t watch much of the Olympics this year on account of me not wanting to wake up at 3:30 every morning. Even still, there’s one sport I just have to watch every four years: cross-country skiing. What is it that makes this sport so endearing, other than its exotic nature to this California-born Hoddler-in-Chief?

It’s the sheer exhaustion and suffering that these athletes endure. In fact, one of the key features of this sport is how usual it is for these athletes to collapse the moment they cross the finish line. Just take a look at Jessie Diggins after finishing second in the women’s 30km mass start:

Diggins laid on the ground for another 1-2 minutes before she was picked up and supported by two attendants.

I’ve entered endurance competitions, but the muscle movement in cross-country skiing looks far less natural than running. Even more difficult looks to be the constant contracting of the abdomen and extended periods of wall-sits. That’s got to hurt.

Then there’s the cold, which makes it much more challenging for oxygen to flow through the body (and, in one male Finnish athlete’s case, froze an appendage).

Cross-country athletes’ heart rates could soar up to 185 beats per minute and reach a VO2 max as high as 87ml/kg/min, while also having to switch from aerobic to anaerobic exercise, making recovery between motions even more challenging.

Now, back to Diggins. Not only did the silver medalist face all of these challenges, she suffered from leg cramps throughout the final 17km (10 miles) of the 30km race. She also suffered from food poisoning 30 hours before the race, “which is why I thought I was going to die at the finish line,” she said in a television interview after the race.

That is an unfathomable kind of pain, and an unimaginable kind of athleticism. Admittedly, cross-country skiers aren’t the first people who come to mind when I think of world-class athletes. Maybe they should be.

Fitzie’s track of the day: The Walls Are Way Too Thin, by Holly Humberstone

And now for your links:

Christian Eriksen records two assists in Brentford’s friendly versus Rangers

Goal.com writes an analysis on how Antonio Conte drew the blueprint for beating Manchester City

Ajax reach agreement over settlement with family of Abdelhak Nouri family after midfielder suffered cardiac arrest during 2017 friendly

Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona reportedly are planning friendlies in the USA this summer

FA investigating after Manchester United’s Anthony Elanga struck by object thrown by crowd on Sunday

Western United’s Ben Garuccio scores an ‘unbelievable’ scorpion-kick goal