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La Sgambeda offers 35K in classic technique, is a part of the Swix Ski Classics and open to professional racers as well as recreational skiers. Photo: Swix Ski Classics

The 35 k classic La Sgambeda is a part of the Swix Ski Classics and open to professional racers as well as recreational skiers. It took place Sunday in Livigno, Italy. (Photo: Swix Ski Classics)

By Inge Scheve

Anders Aukland of Norway and Seraina Boner of Switzerland won the first long-distance race of the 2014/15 Swix Ski Classics series, both by a comfortable margin.

Seraina Boner (SUI) won the womens race with a comfortable margin. Photo: Swix Ski Classics

Switzerland’s Seraina Boner after winning the women’s La Sgambeda 35 k classic on Sunday by 25 seconds over Katerina Smutna. (Photo: Swix Ski Classics)

U.S. two-time Olympian Holly Brooks finished 10th among the women, almost five minutes behind Boner.

After a short 15-kilometer Pro Team Prologue on Saturday, the Swix Ski Classics continued with the 35 k classic La Sgambeda in Livigno, Italy. The course was one big loop with a challenging climb in the middle.

Both Aukland (Team Santander) and Seraina Boner (Team Coop) won with similar tactics: they skied away from their competitors and stayed up front.

Norway’s Petter Eliassen (Team LeaseplanGO) was considered one of the top contenders for the 35 k classic, and led for the first 15 k. Aukland caught him there and stayed ahead for the remaining 20 k, winning in 1:21:20.

“It was a hard race with high speed in the big climb,” the 42-year-old Aukland told the Ski Classics media after the race. “I had really good skis, but it was tough to stay in front, and I didn’t feel safe until the last kilometer.”

Øystein Pettersen (NOR) of Team LeasePlanGO, is full of respect for the 42-year-old Anders Aukland, who won La Sgambeda. Photo: Swix Ski Classics

Norway’s Øystein Pettersen is full of respect for the 42-year-old Anders Aukland, who won La Sgambeda on Sunday. (Photo: Swix Ski Classics)

Aukland’s competitors did their best to challenge the veteran, but didn’t stand a chance.

“We have to be respectful of the elderly, isn’t that what they teach us?” Øystein Pettersen said to TV2. “Actually, Anders was incredibly strong. He is incredibly strong. At 42, he was sixth at Beitostølen [Norway's FIS season opener in November], and today he was simply better than everyone. Johan [Kjølstad] and I did our best, but this guy was faster. He was a little faster than us, and that’s totally OK.”

Pettersen (Team United Bakeries) placed third, just 0.79 seconds behind teammate Kjølstad in second place.

With the cross-country World Cup racers racing in Davos, Switzerland, just down the road from Livigno, several of the World Cup racers opted out of the Davos sprint on Sunday and chose to start the 35 k classic instead. Eldar Rønning of Norway and Russians Alexey Poltoranin and Maxim Vylegzhanin were among them, but didn’t manage to fight for the podium.

“This was a race with stiff competition. Several of the best skiers in the world were on the start line and it’s really fun to compete with them,” Aukland told TV2. “Maybe it’s a bit unexpected for them, but the level on the long-distance circuit is really high.”

Boner skied away from the women’s field, winning by 25 seconds in 1:35:06. Katerina Smutna (Team Silvini Madshus), snagged second place, 2.5 seconds in front of Julia Ivanova of Russia.

“This was a great start to the season, and I am happy to start with the yellow champion bib also next race,” Boner said.

***

Team Coop is still leading the team competition after Sunday’s 35 k, ahead of Team Santander in second and Team United Bakeries in third overall.

The next competition in the Swix Ski Classics is Jizerska Padesatka in the Czech Republic on January 11, 2015.

Event 2 – La Sgambeda men

  1. Anders Aukland (Team Santander) 1:21:20
  2. Johan Kjølstad (Team United Bakeries) 1:21:34
  3. Øystein Pettersen (Team United Bakeries) 1:21:34
  4. Daniel Richardsson (Lager 157 Ski Team) 1:21:35
  5. Alexey Poltoranin (Kazakhstan) 1:21:35
  6. Morten Eide Pedersen (Team Coop) 1:21:35

Complete results

Event 2 – La Sgambeda women

  1. Seraina Boner (Team Coop) 1:35:06
  2. Katerina Smutna(Team Silvini Madshus) 1:35:31
  3. Julia Ivanova (Russia) 1:35:34
  4. Britta Johansson Norgren (Team SkiProAm) 1:36:23
  5. Julia Tikhonova (Russian Marathon Team) 1:36:32
  6. Olga Kuziukova (Russia) 1:37:3

Complete results

 

Swix Ski Classics Champion Men’s Standings

1 Anders Aukland SANT 220
2 Johan Kjølstad UNBA 190
3 Øystein Pettersen UNBA 140
4 Daniel Richardsson L157 120
5 Morten Eide Pedersen COOP 115
6 Petter Eliassen LEAS 110

 

Swix Ski Classics Champion Women’s Standings

1 Seraina Boner COOP 220
2 Kateřina Smutná SILV 190
3 Britta Johansson Norgren SKIP 120
3 Julia Tikhonova RUSM 120
5 Adéla Boudíková PIIN 100
6 Holly Brooks SANT 95

 

Swix Ski Classics Sprint Standings

1 Andreas Nygaard SANT 45
2 Øystein Pettersen UNBA 30
3 Bruno Debertolis TXLS 15
4 Andrey Tyuterev RUSM 10
5 Sami Jauhojärvi COOP 5

 

Swix Ski Classics Team Standings

1 Team Coop 580
2 Team Santander 501
3 Team United Bakeries 495
4 Russian Marathon Team 382
5 Silvini Madshus team 293
6 Lager 157 Ski Team 213

 

 

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Registration is now open for Canadian Masters Nationals hosted by the Overlander Ski Club in Kamloops, British Columbia, from Feb. 8-15. There are three Masters races with classic and freestyle options. The 30-kilometer free technique Overlander Loppet on the final Sunday is open to all ages. Non-Canadian skiers are welcome.

Anyone who was inside the fence at the 2011 World Masters or the 2010 Olympics will see some familiar faces on the organizing committee.

Nationals attendees are usually split between hard-core competitors and social skiers who use the races as a conversational ice-breaker for the parties.

JD Downing (American XC Skiers) leans towards the competitive side: “When skiers travel across the border it gives our respective Nationals more of a special, international flavor and adds to the depth in various categories,” he wrote in an email.

Mike Bell (BC Masters) represents the social side: “Essential fluid replacement will include red, white, brown and blonde options,” he explained in an email.

The official social events are listed on the Special Events Page.

There are other skiing options near the race site. Three more of the Kal West Interior Loppet Series venues are within day tripping distance: Larch Hills, Sovereign Lake, and Telemark.  Whistler Olympic Park and Methow Valley are in driving distance for an extended ski vacation.

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Entering its 42nd year, the American Birkebeiner is doing everything it can to ensure Birkie fever continues, recently launching its first capital fundraising campaign to do so.

According to Tom Held of SilentSports.net, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ASBF) is seeking $2.3 million to buy land for a permanent start area — securing some 75 acres of Telemark property — improve its 107 k trail system, and build an outdoor recreation center.

Start of the American Birkebeiner around the 1980s.

Start of the American Birkebeiner around the 1980s.

Annually, the Birkie makes slightly more than $1 million, according to ABSF Executive Director Ben Popp. That goes toward covering event expenses and annual trail maintenance, but is not enough to fund large-scale improvements.

“Over the past 12 months, in collaboration with the board of directors, I completed a 5-year strategic plan for the A.B.S.F., Popp wrote in a press release. “We have acknowledged the greatest risks to the foundation, as well as identified key opportunities that will create stability and increase our reach.”

The Birkie’s five-year campaign, “Honoring the Legacy – Ensuring the Future,” began Nov. 1 at the Rivers Eatery in Cable, Wis., a few miles away from the race’s historic start at Telemark Resort. At the kickoff fundraiser, more than 100 supporters jumpstarted the campaign, bringing its total up to more than $192,000, Held reported.

By the 2015 Birkie on Feb. 21, the ABSF aims to have raised $650,000 to complete phase one: securing a start area “built to last for next 100+ years – with permanent access,” according to Birkie.com, including a “large warm area/building,” additional pre-race facilities for water, bathrooms, etc., more convenient bus drop-offs, and year-round trail access to the Birkie course.

Phase one also includes finish-line improvements, such as “indoor changing facilities and food, easier gear bag layout, increased medical facilities,” and better traffic flow for spectators.

Held reported that, the ABSF planned to spend about $115,000 on buying roughly 75 acres of the Telemark Resort property, which would serve as a new start line for the 50 k Birkebeiner and 26 k Kortelopet.

The races attract more than 10,000 skiers annually, and traditionally starts on the runway at the Cable Municipal Airport, crossing Telemark property for the first few kilometers.

“Working with the current ownership group at Telemark, we have been given the opportunity to purchase a section of land to build out a permanent start line at Telemark,” Popp stated in the release.

According to Held, the ABSF reached a tentative deal with Clifton Lewis, who bought the Telemark property at a foreclosure sale a year ago. The foundation also plans to build a storage building that doubles as a warming hut.

“Additionally, in cooperation with the DOT, County, City and other interest groups, we will be able to re-construct the ‘International Bridge’ made famous by Tony Wise, this time in downtown Hayward, reducing traffic congestion, creating an improved flow for safety vehicles (and spectators), as well as providing access to services and infrastructure that improve safety and experience for all participants,” Popp wrote.

Popp estimated the start-line renovations would be completed by 2016 or 2017, but the finish-line improvements — with a skier bridge over Highway 63 and indoor food and changing areas in Hayward — were should be complete by the 2015 Birkie.

Phase two — which calls for $950,000 to improve the 107 k of Birkie Trail the ABSF maintains — is on the horizon for 2017. In addition to protecting the trail from erosion, the budget would also allow for installing water and potentially electricity at aide stations.

Phase three is the year-round outdoor recreation center for skiers, hikers and mountain bikers, set to cost about $650,000 and be complete by 2019.

The ABSF is holding its next fundraiser Nov. 20 at Borton Volvo in Golden Valley, Minn., with a live auction, prize giveaway, food, beer, and wine. Tickets are $50 each and the event is limited to 125 guests.

A second event will take place Dec. 4 at Stella Blues in Eau Claire, Wis., with $50 tickets limited to the first 90 guests.

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David G. Nelson, marking trails for the Birkie Ridge Trailhead. (Photo: ABSF)

David G. Nelson, marking trails for the
Birkie Ridge Trailhead. (Photo: ABSF)

(ABSF press release)

HAYWARD, Wis. (Oct. 9) — The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation is sad to inform you that Dave Nelson, our long-time friend, supporter, Birchlegger and board member, passed away peacefully yesterday morning after a courageous battle with lung cancer. In addition to skiing 31 Birkies, 1 Korte, and 1 Prince Haakon, Dave served on the ABSF Board for 7 years and chaired the Trail Committee for several of those years.

Dave’s legacy will certainly be tied to the Birkie Classic trail. He worked tirelessly to promote the need for a classic trail, personally designing and laying it out, while being an early adopter of GPS technology. He also mapped out additional sections for classic trail extensions south of the Hwy OO trailhead and frequently expressed his desire to see this happen. While with the Forest Service in Hayward, Dave also designed and mapped out the popular Rock Lake and Mukwanago ski trails. Dave had a strong interest in conservation and forestry and approached all aspects of life with a great sense of humor.

Former ABSF Executive Director Ned Zuelsdorff worked very closely with Dave and had this to say, “Dave worked many hours flagging and reflagging the Birkie Classic trail until he got it right. I consider it ‘Dave’s trail’, and in many ways it skis better than the skate trail. The classic trail has led to higher Birkie participation overall and has brought classic skiers back to the Birkie, increasing the ratio of classic to overall skiers from 1 in 5 to 1 in 3.”

Former ABSF Board President Sue Scheer stated that Dave was “a diplomatic person who worked well with the board, yet also had a focus to make the Birkie trail system technically correct and visually appealing for all skiers.”

Dave Nelson making the "Giant Skis". (Photo: ABSF)

Dave Nelson making the “Giant Skis”. (Photo: ABSF)

While only having a brief time to work with and learn from Dave, ABSF Executive Director Ben Popp fully recognizes the impact Dave had on the organization he now leads. “I really enjoyed my year of work with Dave. His passion and knowledge for the ABSF and the Birkie Trail System was truly unmeasurable. He will be greatly missed.”

Current ABSF Board President John Garrett was asked to chair the trail committee back when Dave first had lung-related health issues. “It was hard for Dave to step down, but he knew his health at the time would limit his involvement. As he battled and overcame those early health issues, he was still very active and supportive of all the trail committee activities. We still needed Dave for any trail additions or modifications. Recently, he even finished up several trail maps and got them to us just days before his passing. I will always remember that level of dedication and commitment. ”

Dave Nelson will be greatly missed by the ABSF Board, staff and entire Birkie family. His spirit will continue to shine on the American Birkebeiner Ski Trail and on all of the other silent sports trails Dave helped to create.

Two services will be held:

  • Rhinelander, WI: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at Carlson Funeral Home. Visitation will be from 4pm – 7pm.
  • Hayward, WI: Friday, October 17, 2014 at First Lutheran Church. Visitation will be from 10am – 11:30am, and a worship service at11:30am with lunch to follow.
  • See funeral notice here

The Nelson Family has set up two memorial funds to honor the hopes and dreams of Dave Nelson’s life:

  • The Dave Nelson Birkie Classic Trail Memorial: Donations can be mailed to ABSF PO Box 911 Hayward, WI 54843. Please make checks payable to ABSF. With questions, please contact amy.rowley@birkie.com or call 715-634-5025.
  • The Lutheran World Hunger Memorial: Donations can be mailed to First Lutheran Church 10680 Main Street Hayward, WI 54843. With questions, please contact Pastor Scott Ludford at sludford@msn.com or call 715-634-2141.
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Switzerland’s Valerio Leccardi posted a time of 1:20:03 in Saturday’s Kangaroo Hoppet to win the third Worldloppet race of the year by just over two minutes. The 42 k race is Australia’s premier distance race and is the last race of the Australia New Zealand Continental Cup. 

Leccardi was followed by Phillip Bellingham (+2:46) and Paul Kovacs (+5:57) both of Australia.

Valentina Shevchenko of Ukraine was the first female finisher and 12th overall with a time of 1:31:1. She was followed closely by Slovenian Barbara Jezersek, who placed only one second behind Shevchenko. Australian Esther Bottomly placed third with a time of 1:38:18.

Full Results

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From left to right: Race Director Pablo Valcheff, CAU President Dani Catania, Ma. Constanza Viaña, Carlos Lannes, and Luis Argel with the Challenger Cup held aloft. (Photo: Marchablanca Race Organization)

From left to right: Race Director Pablo Valcheff, CAU President Dani Catania, Ma. Constanza Viaña, Carlos Lannes, and Luis Argel with the Challenger Cup held aloft. (Photo: Marchablanca Race Organization)

(Marchablanca press release)

Translated by Matt Muir

The 28th Marchablanca was won by Carlos Lannes and Constanza Viaña both of whom also became the first winners of the Challenger Cup. The trophy was donated to the Marchablanca by longtime local skier Luis Argel who contributed to the formation of skiing in Tierra del Fuego.

Tierra del Fuego’s governor Fabiana Ríos, the mayor of Ushuaia Federico Sciurano, the president of the Club Andino Ushuaia Daniel Catania, Tierra Mayor matriarch “Puichi” Giró, Cerro Castor owner and Salomon representative Juan Carlos Begué, as well as representatives from sponsors Movistar and Powerade were all on hand for the traditional sounding of the bell to mark the start of the Marchablanca.

More than 500 skiers participated in the event which consisted of a 21-kilometer elite freestyle race as well as shorter citizen events. A regional institution, many of the citizen skiers complete the Marchablanca in elaborate costumes in an event that is part of a holiday weekend in Argentina characterized by family oriented festivities.

Race Director Pablo Valcheff recognized Argel just before the start of the elite race. Argel then presented the race organization with a trophy he had commissioned for the winners of the Marchablanca. The Valley of Tierra Mayor where the Marchablanca is held is relatively remote even today and Argel has lived and skied the valley for decades during which time he has come to embody a regional ideal of resilience, strength, and love for the Fuegian landscape.

Beginning in 2015, the Marchablanca will be the accessory race to the Ushuaia Loppet and part of the official Worldloppet calendar. For more information and results, see www.marchablanca.com.

Video

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The start of the 2014 Ushuaia Loppet in front of Centro Invernal Tierra Mayor in the Valley of Tierra Mayor outside of Ushuaia, Argentina.

The start of the 2014 Ushuaia Loppet in front of Centro Invernal Tierra Mayor in the Valley of Tierra Mayor outside of Ushuaia, Argentina. (Photo: Marchablanca Race Organization)

Tough Day at The Ushuaia Loppet

Conditions make for slow, hard skiing

By Matthew Muir

Last Friday, the day before the scheduled start of the Ushuaia Loppet 42-kilometer Freestyle Marathon on Aug. 9 in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the Fueguino provincial government was closing schools and government offices due to high winds and rain.

At the same time, the Marchablanaca/Ushuaia Loppet Organizing Committee decided to postpone the race start by 24 hours, from Saturday to Sunday.  The Loppet went off on Sunday, Aug. 10, but it was still tough skiing.

High winds and steadily falling wet snow made the two 21-kilometer loops into the proverbial death march on skis.  For the entire race, skiers had to effectively break trail as new snow continued to pile up and winds blasted the landscape in the Valley of Tierra Mayor.

Federico Cichero and Carlos Lannes tied for first place in a shared time of 2:30:04.  Cichero and Lannes have both represented Argentina in the Olympics.  Cichero commented, “it was really hard, intense falling snow, lots of suction in the warm snow surface.”  Cichero added, “I am, however, sure that these events are continuing to grow.”

María Constanza Viaña, a Fueguina native, won the women’s race in 3:30:04.  Only twenty six racers managed to finish the course.  About fifty registered and about thirty five started.  Eleven registrants were from countries outside of Argentina.

Race Director Pablo Valcheff voiced a mix of emotions, “it is difficult dealing with conditions like this but now that we are joining the World Loppet there is a lot of support from the Worldloppet Organization.  The Worldloppet gives us a shared protocol for contingencies and skier safety is number one on the list so, in a way, it’s a relief for the Ushuaia Loppet to be part of a larger, professional organization.  There was no way we were going to race on Saturday.”

In 2015, the Ushuaia Loppet will be an official member of the Worldloppet and begin stamping Worldloppet Passports.  Visit http://www.worldloppet.com/ or http://www.ushuaialoppet.com/ for more information.

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Birkebeinerrennet decided to cancel the race this morning after following the weather throughout the night.

The organisation considered the risk too high having a start at this year edition of Birkebeinerrennet. There is very strong wind over the mountains which forced them to cancel the race.

For more information see Birkebeinerrennet’s webiste: www.birkebeiner.no

SOURCE: Swix Ski Classics

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Eric Packer (Stratton Mountain School T2 Team) broke a pole about 7 k into Sunday's 42 k Engadin Ski Marathon. (Photo: Eric Packer/Alphafoto.com)

Eric Packer (Stratton Mountain School T2 Team) broke a pole about 7 k into Sunday’s 42 k Engadin Ski Marathon and didn’t get a replacement until about 20 k. (Photo: Eric Packer/Alphafoto.com)

According to Eric Packer of the Stratton Mountain School T2 team, “the Engadin was unlike any other race I’ve done.”

One of some 80 Americans in this year’s 42-kilometer freestyle race, the 23-year-old native of Anchorage, Alaska,  competed in the world-famous marathon in Switzerland this past Sunday.

“The traffic out of the start was ridiculous with the pack constantly churning as people fought for position,” he wrote in an email. “If you weren’t actively moving forward, you were moving back.”

Eric Packer competed in a sprint the eve of the 2014 Engadin Ski Marathon in Switzerland. (Photo: Holly Brooks)

Eric Packer competed in a sprint the eve of the 2014 Engadin Ski Marathon in Switzerland. (Photo: Holly Brooks)

Packer shared lodging with a few U.S. men the weekend of the race, including Matt Gelso (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation), Pete Kling (Alaska Pacific University) and Matt Briggs of Bend, Ore., and took part in a night sprint race the evening before.

“All the U.S. guys in the elite wave did a good job staying near the front of the pack early on across the lake,” Packer wrote. “Gelso was able to recover from a fall right at the start in order to make his way back to the front.”

At 7 k, Packer’s pole snapped — unexpectedly.

“Everyone I asked refused to give me a replacement —(I can’t blame them – how would they ever get it back?) — so I ended up waving the broken stub above my head for the next 13k or so.”

Somehow, he missed the pole-service station, but “finally got a replacement entering Pontresina at the 20k mark.”

One kilometer later, Packer found Clarke Sullivan, the U.S. group’s wax tech for the event, along the course and was able to switch out his pole yet again, this time retrieving his own.

Did this incident ruin in for Packer? Not so much. “Even with the broken pole it was an awesome race.  I can’t wait to go back next year!”

Packer ended up 126th out of nearly 13,400 racers, about eight minutes back from the winner.

– Rosalie Lipfert

The start of the 2014 Engadin (Photo: http://www.engadin-skimarathon.ch/)

The start of the 2014 Engadin (Photo: http://www.engadin-skimarathon.ch/)

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By Fast Big Dog

For the 2014 Engadin, a diverse array of 80 U.S. skiers made the trip to sunny Switzerland to compete in one of the premier Worldloppets, the Engadin Ski Marathon last Sunday. With a field of 13,395 skiers, the race featured a number of highlights, including Holly Brooks recovering from a nasty fall to place fourth, Matt Gelso also getting tangled up in the pack to ski his way back up into the lead group for a very solid 15th place and in the most colorful racer of the day, long-time U.S. Skiing supporter and Seattle Seahawks uber-fan Tony Weiderkehr ski the race in a full football uniform, including pads, as a celebration of the Seahawks Super Bowl victory.

WIthout a doubt though, some of the best work was done after the race in the official Engadin Beer Garden, where a nice mix of up and coming stars and aging master blasters, Matti Briggs, Eric Packer, Peter Kling, Matt Gelso, Holly Brooks, Clark Sullivan, Walter McCormack, Quique Nagle and of course the FBD, showed the world how to post-game USA style.

In short, this is a must-do event for anyone who likes skiing, sun, stunning alpine views, beer, bratwurst and just generally being awesome. Should any doubts still remain, here is a slideshow highlighting some of the beauty of this incredible event: http://www.swiss-image.ch/slideshow/#skimarathon2012

And the race results: http://services.datasport.com/2014/winter/esm/esmrang/#Marke0

Trouble viewing video? Click here

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