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Wild Rumpus Sports
 

Johansson Norgren, Nygaard Win La Sgambeda

The women’s podium at last weekend’s La Sgambeda, with (from left to right) Katerina Smutna in second, Britta Johansson Norgren in first, and Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes in third. (Photo: Ski Classics/Magnus Östh)

The first marathon (and individual race) of the 2017/2018 Ski Classics season took place this weekend on Saturday, Dec. 2, in Livigno, Italy with the 28th annual La Sgambeda.  The conditions couldn’t have been better as it appeared to be full-on winter. In the women’s race, seven skiers were able to separate themselves from the lead group, with Britta Johansson Norgren (Lager 157 Ski Team), Kateriná Smutná (Bauer Ski Team), Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes (Team Santander), Astrid Øyre Slind (Team Koteng), and Sara Lindborg (Team Sernke).

The group stayed together until the hill-climb-competition checkpoint, where Norgren pulled away and won the new in-race competition.  With 500 meters left, Norgren was able to hold off a late charge from Smutna and won the 35-kilometer race with a time of 1:34:39, just ahead of Smutna (+0.6). Gjeitnes placed third (+3.3), ahead of Slind in fourth (+6.8) and Lindborg in fifth (+19.1).

“Everything went according to my plan,” Norgren said after the race, according to a Ski Classics press release. “I didn’t feel that strong in the last uphill, and let Kateriná take the lead right after that. I started my final sprint a little too early, but luckily managed to stay ahead of the others. This was a great start to the season, and I will now go back home, train hard and spend some time with my family.”

The men’s podium at the 2017 La Sgambeda in Livigno, Italy, with (from left to right) Torgeir Skare Thygesen in second, Andreas Nygaard in first, and Stian Hoelgaard in third. (Photo: Ski Classics/Magnus Östh)

In the men’s race, the lead group stuck together for the first 15 k.  Anton Karlsson (Team 157 Lager), who will be focusing on sprints this season, won the sprint competition within the race, followed by Ermil Vouev (Russian Marathon Team) in second and Oskar Kardin (Team Santander) in third.  At the hill climb, Simen Østensen (Team BN Bank) took the top honors.

As the men entered the final stretch, Andreas Nygaard (Team Santander) outlasted the group for his first win at altitude, according to the press release (Livigno lies nearly 6,000 feet above sea level), in a time of 1:20:41. Torgier Skare Thygesen (Team Oslo Sportslager) finished 0.2 seconds later in second, followed by Stian Hoelgaard (Team Koteng) in third (+0.7). Morten Eide Pedersen Team BN Bank placed fourth (+1.1) and Oskar Kardin  (Team Santander) finished fifth (+1.2).

“I felt strong today, but the race was harder than I expected,” Nygaard said, according to the press release. “We kept a good pace after the sprint, and the climb in this altitude was challenging. Tord Asle [Gjerdalen] and I had a minor crash just before the finish where he broke his pole, but I managed to stay unharmed.”

After the first marathon of the season-long Ski Classics series, Norgren leads the women’s overall standings with 250 points, while Smutna is second with 220 points, and Gjeitnes is in third place with 200 points. Thygesen is the current men’s leader with 220 points, followed by both Nygaard and Hoelgaard tied for second with 200 points.

The next Ski Classics race is the Kaiser Maximilian Lauf on Jan. 13 in Seefeld, Austria.

Searchable results & standings:  Men | Women

— Ian Tovell

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