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Kowalczyk Wins Marchablanca Outright

Overall champion Justyna Kowalczyk and men's winner Carlos Lannes.  (Photo: Ushuaia Loppet Race Organization)

Overall 2015 Marchablanca champion Justyna Kowalczyk and men’s winner Carlos Lannes. (Photo: Ushuaia Loppet Race Organization)

Poland’s multi-time Olympic and World Championship medalist, Justyna Kowalczyk, beat all comers, male or female, in the 29th edition of Argentina’s Marchablanca on Sunday, Aug. 16.  Second place overall and first place for men went to Argentina’s Carlos Lannes at 5 seconds back.
The traditional competition took place this year in classic technique and consisted of one 21-kilometer clockwise loop of the Marchablanca/Provincial Cross Country Ski course in the Valley of Tierra Mayor outside of Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.
Kowalczyk commented, “today required 21 KM of fighting wind and rain to get to the finish of this beautiful race.”  Such conditions are not unheard of in the Southern Patagonian region and they often turn ski racing into something resembling a springtime bike race in echelons and packs having to negotiate swirling winds.
Race CEO Pablo Valcheff concurred, “conditions were tough and starting 48 hours before the race we went to work in order to maintain the best course and stadium quality possible.”
Over 450 skiers from 10 countries participated in this year’s Marchablanca.  The race is organized by the Club Andino Ushuaia.  It is also the accompanying race to Argentina’s Worldloppet member, the Ushuaia Loppet, which took place eight days earlier.
Podium 21 KM, Classic
Men
1. Carlos Lannes   1h:17m.15s
2. Martín Banchi         1h:17m 36s
3. Federico Cichero     1h:17m.44s
Women
1. Justyna Kowalczyk   1h:17m.10s
2. María Giro                 1h:55m.36s
3. Clarisa Panosetti      2h:04m.29s

FIS Races Precede Ushuaia Loppet and Marchablanca

A Brazilian skier waits for his start during the FIS classic technique sprint qualification round on July 25 at the Francisco Jerman Nordic Ski Area near Ushuaia, Argentina. (Photo: Ushuaia Loppet)

A Brazilian skier waits for his start during the FIS classic technique sprint qualification round on July 25 at the Francisco Jerman Nordic Ski Area near Ushuaia, Argentina. (Photo: Ushuaia Loppet)

(Press release)
The Brazilian Winter Sports Federation in collaboration with the Club Andino Ushuaia recently held a set of FIS races at the Francisco Jerman Nordic Ski Area near Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.  Results are available at http://data.fis-ski.com/cross-country/results.html.  The FIS races are part of a body of events in the region’s “International Month of Cross Country Skiing” which also consists of the 21-kilometer Marchablanca in classic technique and the 42 k Ushuaia Loppet in free technique.
The Marchablanca is a traditional and family friendly event for hundreds of skiers.  An elite category does exist and elite skiers are called to the line early in order to start first.
For the first time ever, the Ushuaia Loppet will be a full Worldloppet member and mark the beginning of the 2015-16 Worldloppet calendar.  Registration for the Ushuaia Loppet has reached 110 skiers from 18 countries, including Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland.
Conditions have been the best they have been in 15 years.  There are over 30 kilometers total of groomed trails at the Jerman and the Provincial Cross Country Ski Trail (PIPEF), both within 30 minutes of Ushuaia.  More information is available at http://www.ushuaialoppet.com/.

Four Weeks Until Ushuaia Loppet and Marchablanca

 

 
Ushuaia Loppet and Marchablanca

(Press release)

Only four weeks remain until the start of Argentina’s 42-kilometer Ushuaia Loppet, the first-ever Worldloppet competition on the continent of South America.  Local snow conditions are good if not excellent.  FIS skiers in the Ushuaia Loppet, set for Aug. 8, can now have their finishing points count towards their international ranking as well.

Worldloppet membership for the Ushuaia Loppet is a big step forward for cross-country skiing in South America.  Membership raises the profile of the event.  It also drives more Fuegian skiers to the sport and, thus, strengthens the structure of nordic skiing in the Southern Patagonian region.

Ushuaia Loppet CEO Pablo Valcheff says “the existence of these events represents the accumulation of decades of hard work in this region.  We’re thrilled to be hosting the event.  Equally important is the standard that Worldloppet membership holds us to, the chance it gives us to develop, and the ability to show the potential that exists for skiing here, around the Earth’s southernmost city.”

The Ushuaia Loppet is capped at 120 skiers in 2015, partly to control its growth and partly due to the relatively remote location of the event.  Registration is currently 75% full.  Skiers from 18 countries have registered for the event.

The Ushuaia Loppet’s accompanying event, the traditional Marchablanca, will be held in classic technique this year and measure the typical 21 KM.  The Marchablanca will take place on Sunday, Aug. 16.

The Race Organization is overseen by the local nonprofit Club Andino Ushuaia.  Over 50 years old, the CAU is proud to be taking the next step in developing cross-country skiing in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, and South America.

There’s still room to join, registration is available at www.ushuaialoppet.com.

Early Snow in Argentina in Ushuaia’s First Worldloppet Year

Ushuaia Loppet

(Press release)

The first significant snowfall of the austral autumn left 40 cm of snow in Ushuaia and 70 cm on the cross-country trails of the Francisco Jerman Nordic Ski Area and in the Valley of Tierra Mayor. The Club Andino Ushuaia (CAU) began grooming operations at the Francisco Jerman after intense snowfalls Saturday and Sunday, May 23 and 24. The CAU hopes to have at least some trails open and groomed as soon as possible for skiers.

The Valley of Tierra Mayor is groomed as part of a wider partnership between the CAU, Argentine governmental authorities, and two private entities, Cerro Castor downhill ski area and Centro Invernal Tierra Mayor.

The Ushuaia Loppet’s Pablo Valcheff commented that it’s great to see a relatively early snow in 2015 given that this winter marks the first winter that the event is an official Worldloppet member. Additionally, the Province of Tierra del Fuego as a whole has worked to develop programs to get young people on skis, on the snow, and active in the austral winter. The goal is to continue to improve nordic skiing in what is South America’s best location for the activity.

A regional calendar of events including FIS races is crowned by the Marchablanca and the Ushuaia Loppet which will start off the 2015-16 Worldloppet International Ski Marathon Series.

It All Comes Down to Khanty

 

Holly Brooks is excited to get the last race of the season under her belt. Photo: Submitted

Holly Brooks (USA) is excited to get the last race of the season under her belt. (Courtesy photo)

By Inge Scheve

When Holly Brooks steps onto the start line of the Ugra Ski Marathon in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, for the last race in the 2014/2015 FIS Marathon Cup on Saturday, she’ll have four points separating her from second place in the race for the overall title.

“In order to claim the overall victory, I need to beat [Estonia’s] Tatjana [Mannima] and stay 51 points ahead of Aurelie [Dabudyk of France],” Brooks explained in an email. “There are lots and lots of Russian girls on the start list so anything could happen.”

A rookie to the FIS Marathon Cup this season, Brooks is in full battle mode as the final event, the 50 k freestyle Ugra, gets underway in Siberia on Saturday. With one race to go, Brooks has 455 points, while Mannima has 451 points and Dabudyk in third has 404 points. All three are on the start list, and each has a shot at the overall trophy.

Women’s overall standings prior to the final event

Deep field

Brooks traveled to Siberia earlier this week and was one of the first international racers to arrive at the venue. That gave her plenty of time to check out the course and research her competitors.

“I looked up a couple of the Russian girls on the FIS website the other day, and many don’t have profiles. However, today, I met a bunch of Russian female biathletes out on course so the competition is sure to be tough! The depth of Russian skiers is amazing,” Brooks noted.

“There are always racers that you’ve never heard of, and who are capable of winning. Therefore, I could be fighting for the podium, or I could be fighting for a top ten, I just don’t know.”

Elite women’s start list

Waited a month 

While the Engadin in Switzerland on March 9 was the last FIS Marathon Cup race before the Ugra, Brooks has tried to stay race fresh both mentally and physically in the month between the two races.

After the Engadin, where Brooks placed fifth, she travelled to Norway and competed in the Birkebeiner on March 21, a part of the Ski Classics series, before spending some time in Chamonix, France, prior to her trip to Russia.

“I’m just crossing my fingers for fast skis, no broken poles, and a body that will cooperate with a race effort on April 11th, long after I’m usually ‘done’ racing for the season,” Brooks wrote.

“No matter what the result ends up, I’m proud of my effort this season. It’s not been easy chasing the FIS Marathon cup as a ‘solo show,’ but I’ve met a lot of great people and made a lot of friends along the way,” she added. “Salomon and BP Alaska have been integral parts in making this journey a reality, and I can’t wait to get home to Alaska and share stories with people just one week from now.”

Still open in the men’s overall

The Ugra is not only the deciding event on the women’s side. Petr Novak of the Czech Republic has lead the FIS Marathon Cup with a comfortable margin for months and enters the Ugra with 406 points, but the overall title is not in his pocket.

With 347 points, Benoit Chauvet of France could snag the overall if he wins on Saturday and Novak finishes outside the top five.

Sergio Bonaldi of Italy is in third place overall, but with 229 points, he cannot threaten the top two, even if he were to win the Ugra.

Men’s overall standingsElite men’s start list

Expecting more than 1200 skiers

Khanty-Mansiysk, a well-established venue on the biathlon World Cup, is new to the FIS Marathon Cup. Aside from the 50 k freestyle FIS Marathon Cup race, the Ugra also offers 25 k freestyle and 5 k freestyle events on Saturday, and organizers are expecting about 1,200 participants total.

Two Russians won last year’s Ugra 50 k: Ekaterina Rudakov and Alexey Ivanov. In 2013, Alexander Legkov and Natalya Makoveeva won the race. The Ugra Ski Marathon is also the final event of the 2014/2015 Euroloppet series.

The weather forecast is calling for temperatures around freezing on race day, but the forecast for Friday is rain and 6 degrees Celsius (43 Fahrenheit), potentially serving up some interesting spring conditions for racers on Saturday.

Eliassen Takes It All in Årefjällsloppet, Ski Classics Final

 

Seraina Boner of Switzerland and Team Coop and Petter Eliassen of Norway and Team LeaseplanGO won Årefjällsloppet on Saturday, the final of the the nine events in the 2015 Swix Ski Classics. Photo: Ski Classics

Seraina Boner (l) of Switzerland and Team Coop and Petter Eliassen of Norway and Team LeasePlan Go won the Årefjällsloppet on March 28, the last of nine events in the 2015 Swix Ski Classics marathon series. (Photo: Ski Classics)

By Inge Scheve

Petter Eliassen (Team LeasePlan Go) continued his winning streak in the Swix Ski Classics final 47-kilometer marathon, Årefjällsloppet, on Saturday in Sweden, which also earned him the overall title as Ski Classics champion. Seraina Boner (Team Coop) won the women’s race.

Once again, it was an all-Norwegian men’s podium in the Ski Classics. And once again Eliassen was the strongest in the end, skiing away from Tord Asle Gjerdalen of Team Santander about 2 kilometers from the finish. The third Norwegian, John Kristian Dahl of Team United Bakeries snagged the last spot on the podium after edging Anders Aukland of Team Santander at the finish.

In the women’s race, Boner of Switzerland skied away from the rest of the pack in the tough uphill halfway through the race. Swedish World Cup star Sofia Bleckur was second, and Japan’s Masako Ishida of Team United Bakeries took third.

Start of the women in Årefjällsloppet 2015. Photo: Ski Classics

Start of the women in the 2015 Årefjällsloppet. (Photo: Ski Classics)

In from left field

With his victory at Årefjällsloppet, Eliassen made Ski Classics history by winning four consecutive Ski Classics events. The former Norwegian national-team racer, who joined Thomas Alsgaard’s long-distance project Team LeasePlan Go prior to the 2014/2015 season, was considered an outsider for the overall in the beginning of the season. But the rookie marathon racer inched in on the overall race by race.

“It’s actually a bit unreal right now. It will be hard to land after this,” Eliassen told the Norwegian broadcaster TV2 after the race. “But I think the marathon series will be my arena in the future … It’s really nice that the entire team does so well. We should be quite happy with this season.”

His first Ski Classics victory came in the König Luwdiglauf in Germany on Feb. 1, but Eliassen caught the most attention when he won the Vasaloppet two weeks before the Norwegian Birkebeiner. When he won Birkebeinerrennet in Norway last weekend, he cruised into the over yellow leader bib for the final event in Sweden this weekend. And by winning the Årefjallsloppet, he proceeded to take the overall 2015 Ski Classics Champion title by more than 230 points.

Overall Ski Classics results and standings

Årefjällsloppet results

Petter Eliassen won the 2015 Birkebeinerrennet last weekend, and headed into the Swix Ski Classics final this weekend wearing the yellow overall leader bib. Photo: Kent Murdoch

Petter Eliassen won the 2015 Birkebeinerrennet last weekend, and headed into the Swix Ski Classics final this weekend wearing the yellow overall leader bib. (Photo: Kent Murdoch)

Payday

Årefjällsloppet was the last of the nine Ski Classics events of the season, which means that the banquet also included overall awards and a solid payday for many of the pro racers.

In addition to the prize money for Årefjallsloppet itself, 200,000 Euros was awarded at the season-end banquet on Saturday night. The top overall male/female received 8 percent of that (16,000 Euros) plus the prize money for the event (21,000 Euros for each individual win) for a total of roughly $40,000 U.S. dollars. Money was also awarded to the top-six men overall, and the top-three women overall.

Placing fifth in the Årefjällsloppet, Austria’s Kateřina Smutná (Team Silvini Madshus) narrowly beat Boner for the overall women’s title by 75 points. Boner won two of the 2014/2015 Ski Classics events – the first, La Sgambeda, and the last – and reached the podium in every race except the König Ludwiglauf. In placing fifth in the Ski Classics final, Smutna earned 100 points. Had she been 11th or worse, Boner would have been the overall Ski Classics champion. Britta Johansson Norgren of Sweden was 219 points out of second in third overall.

Holly Brooks won the Dolomitenlauf in Austria earlier this season. She has focused on the long-distance events in the FIS Marathon Cup, but raced some of the Ski Classics events as well. (Photo: Thomas ISEP)

Holly Brooks won the Dolomitenlauf in Austria earlier this season. She has focused on the long-distance events in the FIS Marathon Cup, but raced some of the Ski Classics events as well. (Photo: Thomas ISEP)

Holly Brooks, the only American racer in the elite Ski Classics series, placed 16th overall for the season. Brooks only raced the Ski Classics events that were also a part of the FIS Marathon Cup, and those that did not interfere with her other race plans. With one event to go in the 2014/2015 FIS Marathon Cup, Brooks is now narrowly in the lead for the overall title in that circuit.

Increasing interest

The Ski Classics was extended from six events last season to nine events this season, which was the fourth edition of the long-distance series. More teams and more racers participated in the series, and 2014/2015 had a record amount with almost 30 professional teams registered.

The season opened Dec. 13 in Livigno, Italy, with the 15 k La Sgambeda team prologue, a brand-new event and format to the series, followed by the 35 k La Sgambeda classic the next day. Then the race series took a month break and continued with the 50 k Jizerska Padesatka in the Czech Republic on Jan. 11, La Diagonela in Switzerland on Jan. 17, Marcialonga in Italy on Jan. 25, and König Ludwiglauf in Germany on Feb. 1. Four weeks later, the series resumed with the Vasaloppet in Sweden on March 8, followed by the Birkebeinerrennet in Norway on March 21 and the Årefjällsloppet in Sweden on March 28.

Ski Classics Overall: men

  • First place: Petter Eliassen (Team LeasePlan Go) 1270 points, 20 percent of total prize money
  • Second: Anders Aukland (Team Santander) 1032 points, 8 percent of total prize money
  • Third: Tord Asle Gjerdalen (Team Santander) 930 points, 5 percent of total prize money
  • Fourth: Øystein Pettersen (Team United Bakeries) 915 points, 3 percent of total prize money
  • Fifth: Morten Eide Pedersen (Team Coop) 646 points, 2 percent of total prize money
  • Sixth: John Kristian Dahl (Team United Bakeries) 633 points, 1 percent of total prize money

Ski Classics Overall: women

  • First place: Kateřina Smutná (Team Silvini Madshus) 1290 points, 20 percent of total prize money
  • Second: Seraina Boner (Team Coop) 1215 points, 8 percent of total prize money
  • Third: Britta Johansson Norgren (Team SkiProAm) 996 points, 5 percent of total prize money

Ski Classics Team Champion

Team Satander, 3556 points, 20 percent of total prize money

Ski Classics Sprint Champion

Øystein Pettersen, Team United Bakeries, 6 percent of total prize money

Ski Classics Youth Champion Men

Anders Høst, LYN Ski, 441 points, 1 percent of total prize money

Ski Classics Youth Champion Women

Tone Sundvor, Team Synnfjell, 327 points, 1 percent of total prize money

Everything Rides on Årefjällsloppet, Last Ski Classics Marathon

 

Årefjällsloppet is the final event of the 2015 Ski Classics series. Photo: Magnus Östh/SKi Classics

The Årefjällsloppet is the final event of the 2015 Ski Classics series. (Photo: Magnus Östh/Ski Classics)

By Inge Scheve 

Ski Classics leader Petter Eliassen of Norway can expect a solid run for his money on Saturday – literally speaking.

After winning the Norwegian Birkebeiner last weekend, Eliassen of Team LeasePlan Go goes into Årefjällsloppet in Åre, Sweden, with a 168-point lead for the overall Ski Classics title, ahead of fellow Norwegian Anders Aukland of Team Santander.

The Årefjällsloppet is the ninth and final event of the 2014/2015 Ski Classics series. Due to low snow and challenging conditions, the 75-kilometer course has been reduced to 47 k. But despite cutting down on the length, race organizers promised a challenging event that will separate the good from the best.

In his effort to defend the yellow bib in the final event and claim the overall 2015 Ski Classics Champion title, Eliassen will face one of the toughest start fields in the long-distance series this season.

And while Aukland is Eliassen’s the closest challenger for the overall, there is prize money awarded to the top-six racers in the overall competition. Norway’s Øystein Pettersen of Team United Bakeries is currently ranked third overall, 158 points out of second, and leads the sprint competition by 40 points. Pettersen has 240 sprint points, while Aukland’s teammate Andreas Nygård of Norway is second with 200 points, and Eliassen has 160 points.

In the women’s field, overall leader Katerina Smutna of Austria will have to fend off Switzerland’s Seraina Boner, Norway’s Laila Kveli, Japanese star Masako Ishida, and Sweden’s Britta Johansson Norgren to take the overall victory. Smutna leads Boner by 175 points, and Norgren is another 139 points back in third.

The team competition is also coming down to the wire in the last event. Team Santander goes into Årefjällsloppet with a 61-point lead on Team United Bakeries, and Team Coop is in third, 547 points out of second.

In the youth men’s competition, Norway’s Anders Høst of Lyn Ski has an almost 100-point lead to Team Coop’s Bill Impola of Sweden in second. In the women’s race, Norway’s Tone Sundvor of Team Synnfjell is in first place, 196 points ahead of Norway’s Tuva Toftdahl Staver of Team LeasePlan Go is in second.

Complete standings

Strongest field to date

The final event of the 2014/2015 Ski Classics features the strongest start fields in the four-year history of the Swedish race.

Among the top elite racers on the start list is Norway’s John Kristian Dahl, who was third at the Birkebeinerrennet last weekend, and Sweden’s Jörgen Brink, in addition to the top overall contenders.

And in addition to the usual long-distance specialists, a whole slew of World Cup racers such as Norway’s Petter Northug, Sweden’s top racers, including Johan Olsson, Marcus Hellner and Daniel Richardsson, as well as Russian Olympians Alexander Legkov and Maxim Vylegzhanin, and Czech superstar Lukas Bauer are on the start list, along with some of Sweden’s top women: Stina Nilsson, Emma Wikén and Sofia Bleckur.

Start lists

Men’s Elite
Women’s Elite

Payday

At the end of the day, the Ski Classics will award the prize money for the overall Ski Classics winner for both the men’s and the women’s categories, as well as the overall sprint competition, team competition, youth men and youth women winners.

Total Prize Money for entire season: 200,000 Euros ($216,315 U.S. dollars)

Total Prize Money per event: 21,000 Euros ($22,713 USD)

Ski Classics Champion Men

First place: 20 percent of total prize money
Second: 8 percent
Third: 5 percent
Fourth: 3 percent
Fifth: 2 percent
Sixth: 1 percent

Ski Classics Champion women

First place: 20 percent of total prize money
Second: 8 percent
Third: 5 percent

Ski Classics Team Champion

First place: 20 percent of total prize money

Ski Classics Sprint Champion

First place: 6 percent

Ski Classics Youth Champion Men

First place: 1 percent

Ski Classics Youth Champion Women

First place: 1 percent

Eliassen, Kowalczyk Take Vasaloppet Titles

Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk and Norway's Petter Eliassen won the 90 k Vasaloppet on Sunday in Sweden. (Photo: Swix Ski Classics)

Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk and Norway’s Petter Eliassen won the 90 k Vasaloppet on Sunday in Mora, Sweden. (Photo: Swix Ski Classics)

(Press release)

The 2015 Vasaloppet is the seventh of nine marathons in the Swix Ski Classics tour. Warm and wet conditions made the 90-kilometer classic race from Sälen to Mora, Sweden, extra tough with big time gaps between the athletes. With ten kilometers to go there was only three athletes left in the leading group; Petter Eliassen (Team LeasePlan Go), Anders Aukland (Team Santander) and Stanislav Rezac (Silvini Madshus Team). With two kilometers to go Eliassen started to push hard and won Vasaloppet for the first time, just ahead of Aukland.

“Amazing to win Vasaloppet and it is hard to believe,” Eliassen said. “I was hoping to fight for the podium today but I never really believed that I could win. But the race developed my way and the tactic was to not use any energy before Oxberg. Then I tried to push hard in the last two hills to get a gap before the finish sprint.”

Also the women had a tough race were Justyna Kowalczyk (Russian Marathon Team) won ahead of Britta Johansson Norgren (Team SkiProAm) and Seraina Boner (Team Coop).

“It was a really tough race and I broke my pole directly at the start,” Kowalczyk said. “An amazing experience winning Vasaloppet and I felt great the first 75km. But the last 15km was very painful and I am super happy to win.”

Aukland and Katerina Smutna (Team Madshus Silvini) are still leading the Swix Ski Classics Champion competition presented by Rottefella. Andreas Nygaard (Team LeasePlan Go) took back the green sprint bib and Team Santander is still leading the Team Competition. Anders Høst (Team Lyn Ski) took over the lead in the men’s youth competition and Tone Sundvor (Team Synnfjell) is still leading the women’s youth competition.

Top results

Swix Ski Classics Event 7 – Vasaloppet Men
1 PETTER ELIASSEN 04:01:48.30
2 ANDERS AUKLAND 04:01:53.65
3 STANISLAV ŘEZÁČ 04:02:12.10
4 ØYSTEIN PETTERSEN 04:04:43.95
5 JOHN KRISTIAN DAHL 04:05:01.90

Swix Ski Classics Event 7 – Vasaloppet Women
1 JUSTYNA KOWALCZYK 04:41:02.05
2 BRITTA JOHANSSON NORGREN 04:45:18.80
3 SERAINA BONER 04:49:16.85
4 LAILA KVELI 04:50:11.50
5 LINA KORSGREN 04:54:30.40

Searchable results

McKeever Joins Team Coop for Vasaloppet

Brian McKeever (Photo: Team Coop)

Brian McKeever (Photo: Team Coop)

(Press release)

The long distance ski team Team Coop is preparing for Ski Classics Event 7 , the Vasaloppet. In the 2015 Vasaloppet on Sunday, Canada’s nine-time Paralympic gold medalist Brian McKeever will start with the team.

Brian took 3 gold medals in the 2014 Sochi Paralympics. He began skiing at the age of 3 and started competing at 13. At 19 he began losing his vision due to Stargardt’s disease.

In 2010, Brian became the first Canadian athlete to be named to both Paralympic and Olympic teams. At the 2010 Winter Olympics, he was going to compete in the men’s 50-kilometer cross-country race, however, Canada’s coach decided to replace him with a skier who did well at an earlier event at the 2010 games and thus he did not become the first athlete in the world to compete in the Winter Paralympics and Winter Olympics in the same year.

“When Brian asked me about the possibilities to start for us in Vasaloppet, it was an easy decision. Brian is a friendly person and we will do our best to help him to a good result in Vasaloppet. And we are also happy to promote the paralympic athletes, they are real heroes! ” says Team Director Oskar Svärd.

“I’m so excited to be a part of Team Coop for the Vasaloppet this year! Having the support of one of the most experienced teams in the Swix Ski Classics is a dream opportunity. I first saw the Vasaloppet in a video when I was 14 years old and ever since, it has been one of my favourite races to compete and watch. Now to race with Team Coop is like another level! I hope to represent the team as well as I can and hopefully increase the profile of Paralympic skiing in the process. Thank you to Team Coop and all the partners for the amazing support!” says Brian McKeever.

Sunday’s Vasaloppet: What You Need to Know

Vasaloppet (Photo: Swix Ski Classics)

(Press release)

Swix Ski Classics moves to Vasaloppet!

The long-distance cross-country ski championship Swix Ski Classics moves this weekend to its 7th event of the season and its first event this season in Scandinavia: Vasaloppet!

The 90km Vasaloppet, is the most classical long distance cross-country ski race in the world, start is now 8 a.m. Central European time on Sunday the 8th of March, in the beautiful and historically important region of Dalarna in Sweden.

This year’s Vasaloppet held only one week after the cross country world championships in Falun, a neighbour city to Mora, will attract a stronger elite start field than ever when traditional distance skiers will challenge the long distance stars.

Long distance stars such as #1 ranked and the current yellow champion bib holder Anders Aukland Team Santander, #9 ranked green sprint bib holder Öystein Pettersen Team United Bakeries, #18 ranked pink youth bib holder Bill Impola Team Coop, as well as three time Vasaloppet winners Jörgen Brink Team Lager 157 and Oskar Svärd Team Coop, stand on the start line next to Olympic gold medalist Alexander Legkov Russian Marathon Team, World Champion Johan Olsson and World Champion Maxim Vylegzanin Russian Marathon Team.

In the female competition last year´s long distance queen #1 ranked Seraina Boner Team Coop, meet current yellow bib holder #4 ranked Katerina Smutna Team Silvini Madshus last two year’s Vasaloppet winner #2 ranked Laila Kveli Team Santander, the winner of König Ludwig Lauf #3 ranked Britta Johansson Norgren meet one of the most victories world cup traditional skier of all times Justyna Kowalczyk Russian Marathon Team.
The battle on Sunday in the Swedish forests will be amazing!

Follow Vasaloppet on www.skiclassics.com
History

The race was started in 1922 and is inspired by the run of that the future King Gustav Vasa made in 1520 to get away of the invading king of Denmark. Gustav vasa, fearing for his life and discovered by the Danish troops, spoke to an assembly of men in Mora, aiming to convince them to raise a levy and start a rebellion against king Christian of Denmark. The med didn’t want to fight for these reasons so on his ski’s, Gustav Vasa started to make his way towards Norway, to find refuge there, when two Mora brothers on ski’s caught up with him in Sälen. The men in Mora had changed their minds after hearing that the Danish rulers had decided to raise taxes, and they now wanted Gustav to lead the rebellion. On the 6th of June 1523, Gustav vasa was crowned king of Sweden, having beaten the Danish king Christian. Sweden has been independent ever since.

Vasaloppet is the oldest, the longest, and also considered the biggest cross-country ski race in the world. About 16,000 skiers competed in the main event. The course starts in Sälen where Gustav Vasa was caught up by the brothers and passes through beautiful taiga forests, villages, marsh lands, and lakes before finishing the 90K away in the picturesque city of Mora.

2014 RESULTS

Men

1. John Kristian Dahl UNBA 04.14:43
2. Johan Kjölstad UNBA 04.14:36
3. Jörgen Brink LEAS 04.14:38

Women

1. Laila Kveli CENT 04.31:57
2. Britta Johansson Norgren SKIP 04.33:06
3. Annika Löfström SKIP 04.33:48

RACE COURSE DETAILS

Sälen

Sälen is a municipality in the district of Malung-Sälen in Dalarna, Sweden, approximately located 65K northeast of the city of Malung. South of Sälen is the village Berga located, where the start of the Vasaloppet is located and has been since the beginning of the race.
Sälen is famous for their alpine skiing and has seven winter sport centers, focusing on downhill skiing. The largest centers are Lindvallen/Högfjället and Tandådalen/Hundfjället, which are owned and managed by the Swedish company Skistar. Both Lindvallen and Hundfjället has a family approach, meaning that large areas of the ski centers are adapted to children in all ages. Meanwhile, Tandådalen is more for the advanced skiers, with their stepper slopes.

Smågan

Smågan is the first checkpoint in Vasaloppet, which the skiers reach already after 11K. The checkpoint of Smågan came into play in 1983 since the organizers believed that it was to far for the amateurs to ski to Mångsbodaran before getting water.
Smågan is the name of the lake where the checkpoint is located and it is the only checkpoint in the entire race that is not located in a village or town.

Mångsbodarna

Mångsbodarna is a village, previous mountain farm, in the southwest part of the Älvdalens parish in Dalarna. The village, located on 430m (o.s.l), is most known for being the location of the second checkpoint in Vasaloppet.

The first time Mångsbodarna is named in the history books is back in the mountain farm inventory in 1663. Already in the middle of the 19th century some of the mountain farms become residents to the area and at the turn of the century the village had developed to 240 buildings, whereof 40 was cabins and where eight families where residents of Mångsbodarna. For almost 150 years Mångsbodaran has been determined to be a reserve due to their amazing and environment. Mångsbodaran is today well known for their quarry, where the company Wasasten is producing the popular Dala sandstone.

Risberg

Risberg is a mountain farm in Älvdalens parish in Älvdalen’s municipality. The area of Risberg can be found as early as the 17th century, specifically in the mountain farm inventory list in 1963/64. The mountain farm is located on 410m (o.s.l), and many of the original cottages has been restored over time. Today the cottages are mainly used for recreation activities.

Evertsberg

Evertsberg is a village in Älvdalens municipality, approximately 12 kilometers southwest of Älvdalens population center.
Evertsberg is located in an old farming and forestry district, where the well known sight is the old chapel; Evertsberg’s Chapel.
During Vasaloppet are the skiers passing under a large portal, where the faster skier to this point wins the so called Bergspriset (mountain award).

Oxberg

Oxberg is a small village in the north west part of Mora parish, in the Mora municipality. The village of Oxberg is located on the west side of the Österdalälven, approximately 201 meters o.s.l.
Oxberg is most known for their check point in Vasaloppet and are also the starting point for the shorter events during the Vasaloppet week; Tjejvasan, Kortvasan, Halvvasan.

Hökberg

Hökberg is a mountain farm located in Mora municipality, where two popular hiking routes are passing by; Siljansleden and Vasaloppsleden.
Resident registers for Hökberg can be found as early back as 16th century and in the middle of the 19th century the register shows that there was 13 permanent house owners living in Hökberg. Today the numbers of farms in the village is as high as 41, where 2 of them are owned and managed by the local ski club IFK Mora. These 2 farms are used by the Vasalopp organization both in the summer and the winter.

Eldris

Eldris is a mountain farm 10k west of the city of Mora, belonging to the village Långlet. Eldris was used as a mountain farm during most of the year, since the farmers from Långlet moved out there cows to Eldris at the end of may for approximately one month before moving along to another mountain farm called Northerns Garberg. However, when the fall came the farmers moved their cattle back to Eldris and stayed until Christmas.
Eldris is most famous to be the last checkpoint in Vasaloppet; 9 kilometers before the finish line in Mora. The checkpoint has not always been located in the middle of the farm as it is now, since the course has been moved multiple times during the years.

Mora

Mora is the home for the Vasaloppet’s organization and is also the finish for this 90kilometers cross-country race.
The name Mora is assumed to derive from the old Swedish word “mor”, meaning something close to “thick forest with high humidity”. In the area of Mora has been the home for people for a long time, and it is assumed that the Mora perish was established in the 13th century. The famous Swedish artist Anders Zorn is born in Mora, both his home, the Zorn Farm, and the Zorn museum have become a large tourist sight.

Novak, Mannima Win Bieg Piastów; Brooks Fourth

Tatjana Mannima of Estonia and Petr Novak of the Czech Republic are leading the overall FIS Marathon Cup with two events to go. Photo: Worldloppet

Tatjana Mannima of Estonia and Petr Novak of the Czech Republic are leading the overall FIS Marathon Cup with two events to go. (Photo: Worldloppet)

Petr Novak of the Czech Republik and Estonian marathon specialist Tatjana Mannima won Saturday’s 51-kilometer Bieg Piastów classic race in Poland.

With the victory, Mannima move into the FIS Marathon Cup leader’s bib, passing American Holly Brooks by 17 points. Mannima led the FIS Marathon Cup after her victory in the Tartu Marathon earlier this month, but had to turn over the red bib to Brooks after last weekend’s American Birkebeiner in Hayward, Wis.

Novak increases his gap in the overall FIS Marathon Cup by 89 points over France’s Benoit Chauvet.

The Bieg Piastów served up a race day with challenging-and-changing conditons. The day started with -1-degree Celsius temperatures and some foggy weather, but during the race, the sun burned through the fog, lightening spirits while complicating waxing.

Setting up for a thriller

In the women’s race, the skiers stayed in a pack for around 25 k. Lapping through the stadium, Brooks was caught behind a racer grabbing a drink and had to let the other women go, she explained to the organizers after the race. Brooks never managed to bridge the gap.

That left Mannima, Klara Moravcova of the Czech Republic and France’s Aurelie Dabudyk to battle out the podium places. Mannima won the sprint finish and secured her third classic win on the FIS Marathon Cup this season. Moravcova was second (+3.7) and Dabudyk took third (+5.5). Brooks placed fourth, 3:46.3 off the podium and 3:51.8 behind Mannima in first.

“It was a hard race, but I had very good skis, especially in the downhills,” Mannima said. “I had a big advantage of good glide, which helped me a lot. … I am very happy win here today, and to get the red bib back again. I hope I can now keep it until the end of the season.”

With today’s victory Mannima leads with 427 points, while Brooks in second place has 410 points. Dabudyk is in third place with 354 points. With two races left, it will be a tough fight for the overall victory until the end.

Novak set out with a plan

On the men’s side, the race took a clear direction early on, and by 26 k, only seven men, including the podium contenders, were left in the lead pack. With 10 k to go, Novak and Stanislav Rezac, also of the Czech Republic, made their moves and dropped Chauvet.

The Frenchman was the only one of the former seven racers who was still with them at that point. It looked as if the finish of this year’s La Transjurassiene would be repeated, but Novak made his move on a short uphill before the finish and kept on pushing for first in 2:19:19.7. Rezac finished second (+2.1) and Chauvet battled alone to claim third (+1:58.5).

“After the waxing disaster in the U.S., I came home very disappointed and did not feel well,” Novak told organizers after the race. “On the other hand, it gave me some extra motivation to have a good race today.”

“I wanted to be at the head of the race to control the situation and not to spend too much energy,” he added. “I knew that with Rezac, I would need to save enough energy for the finish sprint. I thought that he would start pushing hard on the last uphill, and I needed to keep up with him there. One k before the finish there was a little bump, and I took my chance and accelerated there. Luckily, I was able to keep the gap until the finish line.”

FIS Marathon Cup overall 

With the victory today, Novak increased his lead in the overall FIS Marathon Cup. Novak now has 404 points. Chauvet is in second place with 315 points, and Sergio Bonaldi of Italy is third with 223 points.

More than 1,500 skiers representing 27 countries participated in Saturday’s 51 k classic marathon.

Complete results & overall FIS Marathon Cup standings

— Inge Scheve

Birkie Madshus/Fits Sock Elite Sprints Canceled

(Press release)

HAYWARD, Wis. (Feb.  17, 2015) – The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation has canceled the Madshus/Fits Sock Elite Sprints originally scheduled for noon on Thursday, Feb. 19.

The National Weather Service is predicting a morning low of minus 17 and a high around zero on Thursday.  According to Ben Popp, ABSF executive director, concern for skier safety motivated the decision to cancel the sprints.

Madshus and Fits Sock will now sponsor the sprint bonus at Highway OO, awarding prizes of $750, $350 and $200 to the first three men and women to the top of the hill.

The Barkie Birkie and the Giant Ski are still on for Thursday.

For the races Saturday, the NWS predicts a low of 4 and a high of 16.

Rønning, Mannima Win Tartu Marathon; Mannima Takes Overall FIS Marathon Cup Lead

Eldar Rønning - Tartu 2015 - Photo Tartu Ski Marathon

Eldar Rønning celebrates his 2015 Tartu Ski Marathon win on Sunday in Elva, Estonia. (Photo: Tartu Ski Marathon)

 

By Inge Scheve

Eldar Rønning missed the Norwegian national team selection for the World Championships in Falun, but he won Sunday’s 63-kilometer classic Tartu Ski Marathon by about 15 seconds while Tatiana Mannima of Estonia won the women’s race from Otepää to Elva, Estonia.

Røning was impressed with the event, both in terms of the course and the race organization, comparing the race to nothing less than the legendary Vasaloppet.

“Wonderful race, a very good course and race organization. I even could say it may be better than Vasaloppet,” Rønning told the FIS Marathon Cup media after the race.

“Probably, I even have not raced on such good track for 63 km. I definitely recommend to everyone in Norway to come to Tartu Marathon,” he added.

Rønning finished in 2:43:41, while Audun Laugaland, also of Norway, finished 16 seconds later in second place. Rønning’s time for the 63 k classic event was one of the fastest in the history of the race, although still short of the course record.

Tough battles for the podium

For almost half of the race, a six-man group was leading, with Norway’s Rønning, Martin Hammer and Laugaland, Estonia’s Algo Kärp and Martti Himma, and Belarusian Aleksei Ivanov. Before the Palu Service Point, which is at 15 k before the finish, Rønning and Laugaland surged, and dropped the rest of the lead group. Rønning and Laugaland determined the final result in the last kilometer of the race.

“I tried to tire out Eldar with a long sprint, but I had no luck. In the last kilometer, he outraced me,” Laugaland said after the race. “I am very happy with this second place. Together with Eldar we made good speed after we opened up a gap after the sprint price. We decided to work together and to give it a try to just push on. It worked out great. In the end, he was just a bit stronger then me today.”

The two Estonians fought over the last spot on the podium, which Himma took for third.

Due to unsuccessful ski choice, one of the predicted favorites, Kärp, had to admit the defeat.

“Honestly, I’m very disappointed in my today’s performance,” Kärp said. “The most deciding moment was before the start. I chose the classic style of cross-country skis, and compared with other men, I had too much traction.”

Mannima snags overall lead

Hometown favorite Mannima, who also won La Transjurassienne marathon in France last week, won the women’s race by almost five minutes to spare to Antonella Confortola of Italy. Fellow Estonian Triin Ojaste was third, seven minutes behind Mannima.

Mannima cited picking the right skis as a major key to her success.

“It was critical to choose the correct skis today,” Mannima said. “I am very thankful for the waxers who helped me to make the right choice.”

With the Tartu victory, Mannima passes American Holly Brooks for the overall FIS Marathon Cup lead. Brooks chose to sit out the Tartu in order to prepare for the American Birkebeiner next weekend.

“Winning the FIS Marathon Cup is my main goal this year,” Mannima said.

Back on track

In all, nearly 6,370 skiers from almost 30 countries participated in the 43rd Tartu Maraton: 4,994 of them completed the 63 k event, while 1,374 did the shorter 31 k distance.

Race organizers were pleased to be able to run the race on the original 63 k course this year. Although most parts of Estonia suffer from lack of snow this year, but the area around Tartu and Otepää have good snow conditions. Last year, the Tartu ski marathon was canceled due to lack of snow.

Race organizers were curious about the turnout for the Tartu this year. As Vasaloppet is happening one week later then usual due to the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Falun, Sweden, a lot of athletes who normally participate in the Tartu Marathon as a final preparation for the legendary 90 k race have dropped the Tartu this year. The same goes for several of the FIS Marathon Cup athletes, who skipped the Tartu in order to prepare the next FIS Marathon Cup race, the American Birkebeiner, in Hayward, Wis.

However, Rønning is certainly a merited racer with a strong long-distance record. The same goes for Mannima and the top women on the result list.

Results

40th Boulder Mountain Tour Canceled Due to Avalanche, Hypothermia Threats

The 40th Boulder Mountain Tour in Sun Valley, Idaho, was canceled on Saturday, hours before it started, “because of a combination of overnight weather-caused factors,” including avalanche dangers, according to the Idaho Mountain Express.

Boulder Mountain Ski Tour co-race director Kelly Allison told the Express the decision was made after consulting the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA), Idaho Transportation Department and local emergency medical personnel. It was announced at 8:15 a.m. on Saturday, less than two hours before the 34.3-kilometer Full Boulder and 15 k Half Boulder races were set to begin near Galena Lodge north of Ketchum, with some 900 skiers registered.

The night before, rain pelleted the Wood River Valley and more than a foot of snow covered the course, from the SNRA headquarters north to Galena Lodge.

According to Allison, the SNRA notified organizers of avalanche potential, and the Idaho Transportation Department said it could not run shuttle buses safely up and down State Highway 75 because of snow accumulation and slick roads. She added that participants would have also been at risk for hypothermia.

Organizers have requested that timing chips be returned, either in person or by mail, and said there would be no refunds for entry fees.

“Unfortunately most of our expenses to put on this race have already been incurred,” the race website stated. “In the next few weeks we will look at our financials and see if there is any surplus to use towards offering a credit on next year’s race, but we cannot promise anything at this time. Thank you for your understanding.”

According to the Express, the Boulder Mountain Tour had been canceled three times before: in 1983, 1981 and 1977.

 

 

Another Marathon Podium for Brooks in La Transjurassienne

Holly Brooks (left) was second in the 56k classic Transjurassienne in France on Saturday, and increases her lead in the overall FIS Marathon Cup. Tatiana Mannima (center) of Estonia won the race, and Aurelie Dabudyk of France was third. Photo: Salomon Nordic

Holly Brooks (left) placed second in the La Transjurassienne 56 k classic in France on Saturday, increasing her lead in the overall FIS Marathon Cup. Tatjana Mannima (center) of Estonia won the women’s race, and Aurelie Dabudyk of France was third. (Photo: Holly Brooks/Salomon Nordic)

By Inge Scheve

Estonia’s Tatjana Mannima won La Transjurassienne women’s 56 k classic, part of the FIS Marathon Cup series, in 3:09.29.9 hours on Saturday, edging American Holly Brooks by 4.1 seconds and France’s Aurélie Dabudyk by 24 seconds in third.

Stanislav Rezac of the Czech Republic won the men’s race for the sixth time, clocking in at 2:47:08.0, with almost 10 seconds to spare to Petr Novak, also of the Czech Republic. The last spot on the podium became a photo finish sprint between World Cup veteran Jean-Marc Gaillard and Benoit Chauvet, both of France, with Gaillard coming out on top. They finished 1:25.3 and 1:25.4 behind Rezac, respectively.

A fight from the start

The racers literally had to fight their way to the finish.

“It was was grueling! Strong wind and many times the tracks were drifted in,” Brooks wrote in an email about of the windy and exposed terrain, noting that underestimating her food intake made the race extra challenging.

“I was very undernourished for the race, which was entirely my fault. We were out there going HARD for over 3 hours. I should have brought more with me, but I didn’t in the craziness of the morning. The two girls that I was racing with had feeds practically every two kilometers. I was bonking and extremely jealous,” she added.

“I couldn’t see straight, let alone hardly at all approaching the finish line. I didn’t know where I was, and where exactly the other girls were in the end – I just pushed on. Lesson learned.”

Overall, the two-time U.S. Olympian was content with her effort considering she was totally new to the race and the course.

“It’s my first time here, I didn’t know the track, I had never seen the finish so I didn’t really know where to go and what to expect,” she said.

Holly Brooks along the windblown course in the 56k classic Transjurassienne in France. Photo: Salomon Nordic

Holly Brooks along the windblown course in the 56k classic Transjurassienne in France. (Photo: Holly Brooks/Salomon Nordic)

Shooting pain for 55 k

In placing second in the tough French marathon, Brooks also increased her overall lead in the FIS Marathon Cup, but it came at a cost.

“One last hardship today is that my chronic elbow problem is back and extremely inflamed,” she wrote. “The Marcialonga (with 57 k of double-poling two weeks ago) was a bad idea for me given my health history. I went 55 k today with shooting pain in my elbows, so first priority in the Midwest will be to find a good PT.”

Brook plans to race the American Birkebeiner in northern Wisconsin in two weekends on Feb. 21.

“Readers, please let me know if anyone can help me out,” she wrote.

Mannima as the race winner was more than excited to log a FIS Marathon Cup victory. This was her first marathon podium in almost two years.

“I am so happy! It’s so amazing to be back on the podium,” she told race organizers after the race.

“It was a hard race but we three girls worked well together the whole way through. In the end, I felt very good, so I thought I would just give it a go. I pushed hard, and somehow the others couldn’t follow,” she added.

Back on top

Rezac had also been waiting for a podium in the FIS Marathon Cup for the last two years.

“I am very happy that I could win this race again,” said the 42-year-old marathon veteran, adding that he lost count of how many times he had won the Transjurassienne.

“I didn’t know that I had already won it that many times, but it’s a really nice race and I like to ski here,” he said when FIS announcers told him it was his sixth victory.

Rezac, too, was excited to be back on the FIS Marathon Cup podium.

“It’s a long time since I won a FIS Marathon Cup! My next races will normally be the Vasaloppet and the Bieg Piastów [in Poland].”

Stanislav Rezac of the Czech Republic (center) won the Transjurassienne 2015, with Petr Novak, also of the Czech Republic, in 2nd place and Jean Marc Gaillard of France (right) in 3rd. Photo: Salomon Nordic

Stanislav Rezac of the Czech Republic (center) won the Transjurassienne 56 k classic on Saturday, with Petr Novak, also of the Czech Republic, in second and Jean-Marc Gaillard of France (right) in third. (Photo: Holly Brooks/Salomon Nordic)

Increased the lead in overall FIS Marathon Cup

Brooks and Novak continue to lead the overall FIS Marathon Cup, which means they get to keep racing in the red leader bibs. Brooks has 260 points after four of the nine events in the 2015 Marathon Cup, while Dabyduk has 214 points and Mannima has 167 points.

“It was really a great girls race today with us three working together and battling throughout the whole race and until the end,” Brooks wrote. “I am really happy that I could extend my lead in the overall FIS Marathon Cup, and am now looking forward to going home and enjoying some time off before the American Birkebeiner.”

She is skipping the next FIS Marathon Cup race, the Tartu Skimarathon in Estonia.

“I’m assuming that Mannima will win [the Tartu], and if that’s the case she’ll be 7 points ahead of me and wear the red bib in the Birkie. My goal will be to get it back,” Brooks wrote.

In the men’s overall, Novak has 280 points, while Chauvet has 195 points and Toni Livers of Switzerland has 150 points. Livers was on the start list for the Transjurassienne, but was sick and unable to race this weekend. Both Brooks and Novak are next headed to the American Birkie.

Wait – there’s more!

Many of the elite skiers racing in the 56k classic FIS Marathon Cup on Saturday will also take on Sunday’s 68 k freestyle event.

Results: Women | Men

Naryshkina, Liebsch Repeat as City of Lakes Champions

The men's podium on Sunday, the last day of the City of Lakes Loppet Minne Tour in Minneapolis, with winner Matt Liebsch (c), runner-up Erik Fagerstrom (r), and Torin Koos (l) in third. (Photo: Marybeth Liebsch)

The men’s podium on Sunday, the last day of the City of Lakes Loppet Minne Tour in Minneapolis, with winner Matt Liebsch (c), runner-up Erik Fagerstrom (r), and Torin Koos (l) in third. (Photo: Marybeth Liebsch)

By Vince Rosetta

A line on the race website summed up the 2015 City of Lakes Ski Festival; this wasn’t your ordinary loppet.

Minneapolis, home of the City of Lakes Loppet, has seen a very low snow year this winter, forcing organizers to be creative to find snow to hold the race. Typically the Loppet is a point-to-point marathon classic and skate race, all within the Minneapolis city limits. Last weekend, the races were all held on a manmade course on the Theodore Wirth Golf Course. A 3.1-kilometer loop course hosted the sprints, classic and freestyle races.

Part of the Loppet weekend is the Minne Tour, a three-day competition that combined this year’s Finn Sisu Sprints, the 16.5 k Hoigaard’s Classic and the 13.2 k Loppet Skate race to crown a men’s and women’s overall winner. Matt Liebsch of Gear West/XC United has won this race four times and was the local favorite to repeat. His toughest competition came from four-time U.S. Olympian Torin Koos who was in town for the weekend.

Koos recently finished up a new job as an assistant news producer for KSL, the NBC affiliate in Salt Lake City, so his trip to Minneapolis was short, but he raced all three days he was in town.

Coming on such short notice, Koos didn’t have a majority of his equipment. Fortunately, Gear West, where Liebsch is the director of race services, helped Koos out on the ski side. “I have to give a big shout out to them for sure. People really are ‘Minnesota nice,’ ” Koos wrote in an online message.

For Koos, a Minnesota native, this was a homecoming for him. “When you ski in Minnesota, you can feel the ski community behind you,” he explained. “It’s always a bit of a homecoming for me to race in the Midwest. I was born in Minneapolis, my parents grew up in the Twin Cities and it’s a bit of a family reunion when I get to race back there.”

On the women’s side, defending Minne Tour champion Natalya Naryshkina from the Central Cross Country (CXC) Team was back again to try her hand at a repeat.

Women’s defending champion Natalia Naryshkina (CXC) in the City of Lakes 16.5 k classic race. (Photo: Bruce Adelsman/skinnyski.com)

Koos won the first event on Friday, the Finn Sisu Sprints, capitalizing on a strong start and taking that pace all the way to the finish. John Wessling of Minneapolis came in second and Tamer Mische-Richter of Bloomington, Minn., came in third.

Liebsch fell and injured his bilateral tendon, and finished seventh. The win for Koos gave him a two-minute time bonus heading into Saturday’s 16.5 k classic race.

For the women, Naryshkina easily claimed victory on the short sprint course. Rounding out the top three in the Finn Sisu Sprints were high-school students Sarah Bezdicek and Kathleen Dewahl.

Commenting on his injury on Monday, Liebsch explained, “It was really painful and hurt all weekend. Towards the end of Fridays sprint I ran out of snow, fell, and tweaked something in my arm. After the race on Friday I met my friend and he helped pop the tendon back into place, and that really hurt. Skiing on Saturday was really tough only being able to use one arm. Freestyle on Sunday was easier if I kept my body asymmetrical.”

Saturday’s 16.5 k classic came down to a finish-line lunge. Liebsch nipped Koos at the finish after the pair fought their way through lapped traffic and deteriorating snow conditions. Liebsch won in 37:01, and Koos took second, just one second behind him. Dartmouth College and CXC alumn Erik Fagerstrom finished third.

“Anytime I head to the start line, I have aspirations of winning. The first two days were pretty solid, especially when considering the Saturday classic race was only the second time I’ve skied this winter with kickwax under me feet,” Koos commented after the first two days of racing.

Saturday’s classic finish came down to a ski tip. Liebsch (l) edged Koos at the line. (Photo: Bruce Adelsman/skinnyski.com)

A classic specialist, Naryshkina won the women’s classic race in 45:02. Dewahl came in second (49:21) and Josie Nelson placed third.

Heading into the 13.2 k freestyle race on Sunday, Koos had a 1.29-second lead over Liebsch. While he had the advantage of the shortened course, Liebsch knew it well, racing on the same course a few weeks ago during the Twin Cities Championships (which he won, beating several Division-I college skiers).

“Knowing the course was really important. I learned a lot from the last time I raced here. Being able to pick good lines and weave through the crowd is vital on a short loop course like this,” he said. “I was able to find firm snow on the side of the climbs. This helped when the snow turned into sugar.”

At the start of Sunday’s mass start, Liebsch got out first and fast and was able to pull out a sizeable lead over the rest of the pack. With his injured arm bothering him, Liebsch was forced to V2 most of the course in order to keep his upper body as still as possible.

Getting emotional support from the hometown crowd, Liebsch crossed the line one minute and 51 seconds in front of Fagerstrom to win the skate race and overall crown, ahead of Koos. This was Liebsch’s fifth City of Lakes Loppet title.

“It was an incredible weekend,” Liebsch said afterward. “The Loppet and the Wirth staff do an incredible job. It would have been nice to have a full point to point race but they did their best to make this weekend a great time for everybody. How can you not have a good time with an event sponsored by a beer company and feature an organic smores station!”

Koos, who placed third on the day, 2:06 behind Liebsch, reiterated, “I’m always impressed racing in the Twin Cities. No matter the weather or conditions, the Loppet Foundation always puts on top-notch races. This year was no exception.”

Naryshkina led the women’s field by more than two minutes and easily defended her title winning the Minne Tour in consecutive years.  She crossed the line in 35:59; Sarah Daniels was second (37:29) while Jane Guenther finished third (37:47).

As the winner of all three events, Naryshkina took the Minne Tour title in 1:18:30. Dewahl placed second overall in 1:27:51, and Guenther rounded out the podium in 1:29:10.

Results

Eliassen of Norway and Norgren of Sweden Win König Ludwig Lauf

Petter Eliassen of Norway and Britta Johansson Norgren of Sweden won the König Ludwig Lauf in Germany. The event was the sixth of nine races in the 2015 Ski Classics. Photo: Ski Classics

Petter Eliassen of Norway and Britta Johansson Norgren of Sweden won the König Ludwig Lauf in Germany. The event was the sixth of nine races in the 2015 Ski Classics. Photo: Ski Classics

Petter Eliassen of Team LeasePlan Go won the 46 k König Ludwig Lauf, a Swix Ski Classics marathon, with a tenth of a second’s margin, while Britta Johansson Norgren of Team SkiProAm could cruise into victory with almost a minute to spare in the women’s race.

At the starting line, the athletes could clearly see their route through the Ammergau Alps. The 46 k course starts in Ettal and passes the village of Graswang and the Linderhof castle on the way to the finish line in Oberammergau. There were Ski Classics sprints to be contested in Graswang after 9 k and Steinbrücke after 33 k.

But shortly after the gun went off it started to snow, which made it tough to ski in the front of the pack. Despite the conditions, several racers made attempts to break away from the main group, but it all came down to a sprint finish.

Eliassen has been strong the whole season, and he finally won his first Ski Classics race in a photo finish with fellow Norwegian Tore Bjørseth Berdal of Team United Bakeries. In that perspective, the 1.6-second margin down to third place was huge. Eliassen finished in 1:59:42.9 and Berdal in 1:59:43.00.

After 46k, a tenth of a second separated Petter Eliassen (left) from Tore Berdal (yellow) in second place. Photo: Ski Classics

After 46k, a tenth of a second separated Petter Eliassen (left) of Norway from Tore Berdal (yellow), also of Norway, in second place. Photo: Ski Classics

“It was awesome to win today. I tried to make my moves on the hills, but I didn’t quite succeed. We worked as a team the whole way, which allowed me to save some energy,” Eliassen said to Norwegian broadcaster TV2 after the finish, explaining that conserving power was an important strategy.

“I am not the best sprinter in the end, so I tried to push hard all the way from the last 5k, making the other guys tired. It was amazing to win my first Swix Ski Classics race, and I am in a good position to reach the podium in the champion competition,” Eliassen said in a Ski Classics press release.

Norway’s Tord Asle Gjerdalen of Team Santander followed up last weekend’s Marcialonga victory with a new Ski Classics podium and placed third, clocking in at 1:59:44.6.

Yesterday, he raced the 30 k skiathlon at the Norwegian national championships, hoping to land a spot on the national team squad that will be representing Norway at the 2015 FIS World Championships in Falun, Sweden, later this month. After finishing fifth in the skiathlon, he narrowly missed the National team selection. As soon as the team selection was announced Saturday afternoon, Gjerdalen flew from the race venue in Røros, Norway, to the Ski Classics in southern Germany.

Norway’s Øystein Pettersen of Team United Bakeries moved back into the green points bib after winning the first sprint of the day, at 9 k, pushing Team Santander’s Andreas Nygaard, also of Norway, down to second place. Pettersen, who ended up 16th in the Koenig Ludwiglauf, has 180 sprint points and now leads the sprint competition by 20 points after six of the season’s nine events. Eliassen of Norway is third with 120 points, 40 points behind Nygaard, who has 160 points.

Alone Into The Finish
In the women’s race, which started 15 minutes before the men’s, Britta Johansson Norgren and Lina Korsgren, both Swedish and both of Team SkiProAm, managed to break away from the chasing group half way through the race.

Korsgren had to let go at the big climb by the Linderhof Castle, and Norgren continued to ski alone won her first Swix Ski Classics victory by nearly a minute, with a time of 2:16:28.6.

“Our first gap came a little bit too early, but I had really fast skis and my shape is good, so I just had to go for it. It was amazing to win for the first time, and also to have two more team members among the top five,” Norgren said to Ski Classics reporters after the race.

After getting dropped by Norgren, Korsgren was caught by the chase group. She lost the sprint finish by a tenth of a second to Austria’s Katerina Smutna of Team Madshus Silvini, and ended up third. Smutna and Korsgren clocked in at 2:17:10.10 and 2:17:10.20, respectively.

Complete results

No changes in the overall standings
Smutna, and Norway’s Anders Aukland of Team Santander, who was fourth in the König Ludwiglauf, are still leading the Ski Classics Champion competition. Also, Aukland’s Team Santander took over the lead in the team competition.

Sweden’s Bill Impola of Team Coop and Norway’s Tone Sundvor of Team Synnfjell are still leading the youth competition.

All Ski Classics standings
Long and proud history
König Ludwig Lauf was run for the first time on March 17, 1968. The distances were 45 k and 90 k. After three years, in 1971, there were already 1,383 racers. Thanks to the foundation of the Alpetris the number of participants number increased to over 2,000 in 1974.

Only two years later, in 1976, the race was integrated in the Euroloppet and later became a part of the Worldloppet race schedule. König Ludwig Lauf has been a part of the Ski Classics since 2011. It also serves as the World 20th annual Medical Cross Country Championships, where physicians, pharmacists, dentists and veterinarians from all over the world participate.

–Inge Scheve

O’Brien, Bigelow Win Men’s Races in Craftsbury; Youngman, Whybrow Lead Women

 

On a frigid day at the 34th annual Craftsbury Marathon on Saturday, Stratton Mountain School T2 Team Head Coach Patrick O’Brien cruised to victory in the 50-kilomenter classic while Magnus Bigelow won the 25 k classic at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Craftsbury, Vt.

On the women’s side, Elizabeth Youngman topped the 50 k and Helen Whybrow was victorious in the 25 k.

O’Brien, a Dartmouth grad and former Craftsbury Green Racing Project racer, won on familiar trails in 2:36:03 hours. Chris Ziegler was second (+3:51.2) overall, while Dylan McGuffin – O’Brien’s former CGRP teammate and a multiple-sprint winner during the 2012/2013 SuperTour season – rounded out the podium in third (+5:27.8), edging out Thomas Rabon (+5:42.1) in fourth.

O’Brien took an early lead and was first after 12.5 k, but fell to 79th overall by the 37.4 k mark. The other top skiers were in the same group, as Ziegler was 80th and McGuffin 82nd. However, O’Brien separated himself from the field in the final 12.6 k, which he competed in a blistering 39:32.4.

Scott Tucker was first at the 37.4 k point and finished the race in 30th.

O’Brien explained in an email that he has hardly trained since bowing out of ski racing last year, and as a result did not have many expectations going into Saturday’s race.

“I was pretty apprehensive about my ability to even make it 50 k skiing kind of hard at this point,” he wrote.

However, O’Brien explained that he felt strong going into the third lap (of four) and decided to ski aggressively to see what would happen.

“I blew myself up and just suffered into the finish for the whole fourth lap,” he wrote, though still was able to maintain a commanding lead over Ziegler.

“I’m content not racing again for quite a while,” O’Brien wrote.

Youngman won the women’s race in 3:13:19.1, and was 34th overall and 7:19.4 minutes ahead of Jane McClelland. Lindley Van Der Linde was the third woman overall (+8:54.3).

Meanwhile, Bigelow won the men’s 25 k in 1:22:18.8, holding off Chris Nice by 3:57.8 minutes. Jake Hollenbach took the final podium spot (+4:38.7).

In the women’s 25 k, Whybrow topped the podium in 1:32:44.8, which was also good enough for 11th overall. Emily Hannah took second (+3:47.4) while Madeline Leopold finished seven minutes later in third (+10:44.6).

The 2015 Craftsbury Marathon came a year after Darthmouth skier Torin Tucker collapsed and died while skiing in the lead pack of the 50 k. The tragedy occurred at the 42 k mark during a long climb, and was attributed to a previously undetected structural anomaly in his heart that caused Tucker to go into cardiac arrest.

Late last month, the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) in Sun Valley, Idaho, dedicated a trail in Tucker’s memory, named  Torin’s Tuck’er. Tucker grew up skiing with the SVSEF.

Complete results

— Colin Gaiser

Enman, Youngman Post Fastest Times in Masters’ National Champs 10 k

Eli Enman was the fastest man on the 10 k course in Craftsbury, Vt. Thursday for the U.S. Masters’ National Championship. The Huntington, Vt. skier crossed the line with a time of 25.29.2 to take both the Master 2 age group and the best time of the day. Following Enman was Sproule Love of New York, N.Y. who finished with a time of 25:41.6 and was the top finisher in the Master 3 category. The third-fastest time went to Tim Donahue who crossed the line with a time of 26:12.2 to finish first in the Master 4 category.

Elizabeth Youngman of Sun valley, Idaho was the fastest in the women’s 10 k field and Master 6 age group with a time 29:43.7. Sarah Pribram of Shelburne, Vt. notched the second-fastest women’s time with 31:56.0 and finished first in the Masters 4 category. Joann Hanowski third overall with a time of 32:17.3 and finished second in the Masters 6 age group.

Full results

Pre-Sapporo Loppet Shoutout from Two New Zealanders (Video)

After completion of a very successful World Cup in Sapporo, Japan, most of the U.S. Nordic Combined team flew to Italy for the next World Cup in Val di Fiemme, Italy. Acting head coach and overall assistant to the assistant coach, Fast Big Dog, had additional responsibilities in Japan however, namely maintaining foreign relations with several different Asia/Pacific nations.

As a worldwide ambassador of awesomeness and goodwill, next stop was the mountain village of Asahi-dake, Japan, for some incredible powder skiing and nordic training in preparation for the Sapporo International Ski Marathon, part of the Worldloppet series.

In the hotel lobby, the global impact of both this vital stewardship and the reach of FasterSkier on not only skiing, but also on life, became immediately apparent, as two loyal FasterSkier readers from New Zealand, Nigel Tufnel and David St. Hubbins explain in this short video.

— FBD

Trouble viewing video above? Click here.

More from Sapporo: Provisional-jump day video | Day 1 recap | Day 2 report