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Two-Weekend Recap: Marcialonga, Moonlight Classic, Toblach-Cortina, König Ludwig Lauf

From left to right: Tore Bjørseth Berdal after placing second, Ilya Chernousov in first, and Morten Eider Pedersen in third in the Ski Classics 70 k Marcialonga in Trentino, Italy, on Jan. 28. (Photo: Visma Ski Classics)

Ski Classics: 70 k Marcialonga (Trentino, Italy) Jan. 28

Two weekends ago, the 70-kilometer Marcialonga, part of the Ski Classics series, was held on Sunday, Jan. 28 in Trentino, Italy. The conditions were ideal for the races, according to a press release, and both the men and women’s races came down to sprints at the finish.

At the halfway point of the men’s race, about 50 skiers remained in the lead group, and on the final climb at Cascata, 20 skiers were still fighting for the podium. At the start of the climb, four men broke away: Morten Eide Pedersen (Team BN Bank), Tord Asle Gjerdalen (team Santander), Tore Bjørseth Berdal (Team Koteng), and Ilya Chernousov (Team Bauer). All four skiers tried to make moves throughout the climb, but Chernousov was able to win his first Marcialonga in 2:48:08.7 hours, just 0.2 seconds ahead of Berdal in second. Pedersen finished 1.5 seconds back in third, Gjerdalen placed fourth (+7.0) and Andreas Nygaard (Team Santander) was fifth (+13.0).

“This is a dream come true for me,” Chernousov said, according to a Ski Classics press release. “I’ve done well in the previous races and I knew that I was in great shape. My tactic worked perfectly in the last climb, and I was able to beat Berdal.”

Gjerdalen in fourth was able to hold on to his lead for the overall Champion standings ahead of Chernousov by 90 points and 100 points over Pedersen. Gjerdalen also continued to leads the Alp Trophy standings as well.

In the women’s race, Britta Johansson Norgren (Lager 157 Ski Team) and Kateriná Smutná (Bauer Ski Team) broke away after Canazei, with Lina Korsgren (Åre Ski Club) skiing on her own behind them. When they approached the finish, Johansson Norgren and Smutná were neck and neck, but Norgren was able to outstretch Smutná by half a second to take the win in 3:11:48.3. Lina Korsgren followed in third (+1:22.5), Silje Oyre Slind (Team Koteng) placed fourth (+7:03.7),and Viktoria Melina (Russian Marathon Team) finished fifth (+10:14.6).

“It’s always wonderful to win here as this is a special race,” Johansson Norgren said, according to the press release. “And it’s also nice to have Kateriná back in the fold. Of course, you don’t feel that way when racing out there, but after the race you feel satisfied if you’ve managed to win a real tough race like this one.”

Johansson Norgren has won every Ski Classics race this season and extended her lead in the overall Champion standings to 850 points over Smutná in second and 645 points and Korsgren in third. Johansson Norgren is also leading the Alp Trophy.

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The 2018 Südtirol Moonlight Classic on Jan. 31 at Seiser Alm in South Tyrol, Italy. (Photo: Südtirol Moonlight Classic/Da Roberto)

Südtirol Moonlight Classic (Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm in South Tyrol, Italy) Jan. 31

The 12th annual Südtirol Moonlight Classic was held Wednesday Jan. 31 at Seiser Alm in South Tyrol, Italy, with two races — a 15 k and a 30 k race — lined with a thousand torches and the glow from the full moon.

In the 30 k race, Magnus Vesterheim of Norway finished first in 1:21:55.2, followed by Stanislav Řezáč of the Czech Republic in second (+2.5) and Norway’s Petter Soleng Skinstad in third (+3.0). In the women’s race, Virginia De Martin of Italy won the race in 1:34:18.8 over fellow Italian Lucia Scardoni (+1:50) and Germany’s Monique Siegel in third (+4:06.2).

In the 15 k race, Italy’s Julian Brunner won the race with a time of 40:51.0, ahead of the Czech Republic’s Svarc Martin in second (+5.7) and Italy’s Christian Niederkofler in third (+9.0). In the women’s 15 k race, Italy’s Giula Stuerz won in 47:58.1 over fellow Italian Antonella Confortola in second (+3.2) and the Czech Republic’s Tereza Hujerová in third (+25.2).

More than 400 skiers from 15 countries participated in the moonlight race.

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Ski Classics: Toblach-Cortina (Italy) Feb. 3

Britta Johannson Norgren (l) and Tord Asle Gjerdalen, winners of the 2018 Toblach-Cortina. (Photo: Visma Ski Classics)

The sixth race of the Ski Classics series, the Toblach-Cortina, took place on Saturday, Feb. 3 with a snowy 50 k race from to Toblach to Cortina, Italy. Despite a few attempts to break away in the men’s race, no one was able to. Chernousov and Russian World Cup skier Sergey Ustiugov tried to pull away, but were unsuccessful. Chernousov ended up getting disqualified for obstruction that caused Stian Hoelgaard (Team Koteng) to lose his ski. Like the previous week, there was a sprint at the finish, with Gjerdalen (Team Santander) taking the win this time in 2:15:43.1. Nygaard finished half a second back in second place while Ustiugov was another 0.1 seconds back in third (+0.6) in his first Ski Classics race. Despite his ski troubles, Hoelgaard finished just 2.1 seconds back in 12th. The top 15 skiers were within 5.1 seconds of first.

“We knew it was going to be a slow race with a lot of people in tact,” Gjerdalen said, according to a Ski Classics press release. “I just had to make sure that I avoided any mishaps and accidents, and I just placed myself in a good spot before the sprint.”

With the win, Gjerdalen increased his lead in the overall Champion standings to 860 points. Pedersen moved up a spot to second place with 680 points and Nygaard moved up two places to third with 638 points. Chernousov dropped from second to fourth in the standings due to his disqualification.

In the women’s race, six women were able to break away from the pack at the 15 k mark. Johansson Norgren and Smutná pushed the pace and just like the week before, they entered the finishing straight together. Just like she has done the whole season, Johansson Norgren continued her undefeated streak, winning in 2:46:12.2, just 0.4 seconds over Smutná. Korsgren repeated in third, 19.7 seconds out of first.

“It was a slow race in the beginning,” Johansson Norgren said, according to the press release. “It makes you a bit nervous when you have that many skiers in the lead group, but Kateriná and I were able to speed up just before the finish. I was surprised that the men caught us up and it happened right before the finish making it a bit scary for all of us. Naturally, you don’t want to disrupt their race, but at the same time you want to go fast and win your own race.”

Johansson Norgren extended her stronghold on the overall Champion standings to 1050 points. Smutná is second with 815 points is Smutná and Korsgren third with 745 points.

The next race of the Ski Classics, the Jizerská 50, will be held Feb. 18 in the Jizera Mountains of the Czech Republic.

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The women’s podium at the 2018 König Ludwig Lauf, with France’s Aurélie Dabudyk (c) in first, Maria Graefings (l) in second, and Seraina Boner (r) in third. (Photo: Worldloppet)

FIS Worldloppet: König Ludwig Lauf (Oberammergau, Germany) Feb. 4

The men’s podium at the 2018 König Ludwig Lauf, with Tore Bjørseth Berdal (c) in first, Ivan Perrillat Boiteux (l) in second, and Riccardo Mich (r) in third. (Photo: Worldloppet)

The second race of the FIS Worldloppet Cup took place Sunday, Feb. 4 with the König Ludwig Lauf in Oberammergau, Germany. The start of the men’s race was slow through the first 20 k, with about 20 skiers remaining together. The pack dwindled to 12 before embarking on a sprint to the finish. Norway’s Berdal was able to take the win in 1:55:15.3, just 0.5 seconds ahead of France’s Ivan Perrillat Boiteux in second. Italy’s Riccardo Mich reached the podium in third (+1.0), while last year’s König Ludwig Lauf winner, Max Olex of Germany placed 26th (+8:24.4).

“Yesterday I skied the marathon in Cortina & I was not satisfied with the race, so I decided to come here,” Berdal said, according to a Worldloppet press release. He finished eighth in the Toblach-Cortina Ski Classics marathon. “We arrived tonight at 1 a.m. And I definitely don’t regret the decision, but now I am really tired.”

In the women’s race, last year’s winner of this race and the winner of the first race in the Worldloppet, France’s Aurélie Dabudyk won again with a time of 2:00:59.7. Sweden’s Maria Graefings finished second (+15.6) and Switzerland’s Seraina Boner, the race’s winner in 2013 and 2014, placed third (+3:33.0).

“It was much harder today,” Dabudyk said. “Maria and me we worked together for almost the whole race only on the last kilometer I was able to escape. Now I feel excited for skiing my home race, La Transjurasienne, in the red bib.”

With her second-straight win, Dabudyk extended her lead in the overall standings to 200 points, 60 points ahead of Graefnings in second while the Czech Republic’s Klara Moravcova is third, another 45 points back.

After placing fifth in the König Ludwig Lauf, France’s Gerard Agnellet leads the overall standings with 125 points, while Berdal and France’s Adrien Mougel are tied for second with 100 points.

The FIS Worldloppet Cup continues Feb. 11 with La Transjurassienne in France.

Results: Men | Women

— Ian Tovell

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