The 49th edition of Engadin Skimarathon took place on Sunday, March 12, with the 42-kilometer freestyle race spanning from Maloja to S-chanf, Switzerland. This was the seventh stage of the FIS Worldloppet Cup with sub-zero temperatures.
While a large pack skied together for most of the race, Switzerland’s 21-year-old Dajan Danuser (SC Vaettis) tested his luck and broke away early, distancing himself from the chase pack by 15-20 seconds and skiing alone for most of the race. A few kilometers before the finish, Switzerland’s Dario Cologna and Norway’s Anders Gløersen and Eirik Brandsdal reeled Danuser in and passed him. A group of 20 skiers reached the final stretch together and sprinted to the finish. Cologna outlasted all of them in 1:27:46 for his third Engadin victory, edging Gløersen by six-hundredths of a second and Russia’s Ilia Chernousov by 0.07 seconds. Less than 11 seconds separated the top 20, with the likes of French World Cup skiers Maurice Manificat, Renaud Jay, and Jean-Marc Gaillard finishing fourth through sixth, respectively. Danuser ended up finishing 20th (+10.6), and Brandsdal 12th (+5.2).
“I tried to be in front in the most important phase of the race, this was not easy because Anders Gløersen did a great job today,” Cologna said in a press conference, according to a Worldloppet press release. “But I was able to overtake him right in the perfect moment, so I could enter the finish stretch as first, this is very important.”.
Switzerland’s Candide Pralong (Team Gel Rossignol) finished ninth (+3.2) and now leads the overall standings by 12 points over France’s Ivan Perrillat Boiteux (Haute-Savoie), who finished 16th (+7.3). Switzerland’s Toni Livers (Team Gel Rossignol) is currently third in the overall standings after finishing 10th (+3.9).
In the women’s race, Norway’s Mari Eide skied alone and was able to follow the leading men until St. Mortiz. She won in a time of 1:34:18.1, ahead of France’s Rahel Imoberdorf (SAS & TG Hütten Team) in second (+17.6) while American Caitlin Gregg placed third (+23.2).
Sweden’s Maria Gräfnings (SAS & TG Hütten) finished 50 seconds behind Eide to end up fifth. She was not happy with her result as she had wanted to close the gap between her and France’s Aurelie Dabudyk (Haute-Savoie) in the overall standings. Dabudyk finished ninth on the day (+1:45.6) and was still able to hold on to her overall lead by 98 points over Gräfnings. Imoberdorf is currently third in the overall standings, another 66 points back.
“The race was not easy for me, I had to do lots of work in front of the group I was skiing with,” Eide said, according to a press release. “And then I didn’t really know if I was in a lead, I just thought it, because of the scooter with the camera in front of me. But in the finish I had to ask someone if I won, just to make sure. So I had to keep my speed high the whole race over. I tried to follow the boys but from St. Moritz on it was not possible anymore.”
One more race on the FIS Marathon Cup circuit remains: the Ugra Ski Marathon on April 8 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.
— Ian Tovell