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La Diagonela & Dolomitenlauf

France’s Aurelie Dabudyk (Team Haute Savoie Nordic) after winning the Dolomitenlauf 42 k freestyle race for the third year in a row on Sunday in Obertilliach, Austria. (Photo: FIS Worldloppet Cup)

Two major international marathons took place this weekend in Switzerland and Austria, with the 65-kilometer classic La Diagonela, part of the Ski Classics series, and the 42 k freestyle Dolomitenlauf, the first race of the 2018 FIS Worldloppet Cup.

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Ski Classics: La Diagonela (Zuoz, Switzerland)

Sweden’s Britta Johansson Norgren (Lager 157 Ski Team) winning her third-straight Ski Classics marathon of the season on Saturday at the 65 k La Diagonela in Zuoz, Switzerland. (Photo: Ski Classics)

In the third marathon of the Ski Classic series, Britta Johansson Norgren (Lager 157 Ski Team) continued her undefeated streak and Tord Asle Gjerdalen (Team Santander) raced to his second-straight victory in the 65 k La Diagonela on Saturday, Jan. 20.

In its fifth year running, La Diagonela was held on its full 65 k course for the first time, which runs through the Engadin valley.

In the women’s race, Johansson Norgren and Katerina Smutná (Bauer Ski Team) dropped a large pack about 20 k in as they ascended the first tough climb toward St. Moritz, according to a Ski Classics press release. Lina Korsgren (Åre Ski Club) was slightly off their pace but eventually caught the two leaders. Sara Lindborg (Team Serneke) came close to doing the same, but couldn’t quite close the gap over the last 10 k.

On one of the final climbs a few kilometers before the finish, Johansson Norgren broke free off the front while Smutná and Korsgren battled for second. Norgren finished first in 3:26:53.8 hours, and Korsgren claimed second 37.5 seconds later and 15.9 seconds ahead of Smutná in third. Lindborg finished about two minutes later in fourth place (+2:50), Laila Kveli (Team Tynell) followed in fifth (+7:10.5) and Masako Ishida (Team Koteng) finished sixth (+7:38.6).

“I felt a little tired today at some points,” Johansson Norgren said, according to the press release. “Of course, Kateriná and I got a bit afraid when Lina caught us, but I just needed to save some energy and focus on winning. I did my final push some kilometers before the finish and that was enough this time around. It may seem that I’m unbeatable right now, but anything can happen in the upcoming races. It was great to have Lina and Kateriná on the podium again and they will be strong in Marcialonga!”

The men’s La Diagonela podium with Tord Asle Gjerdalen (c) in first, Ilya Chernousov (l) in second and Anders Aukland (r) in third on Saturday, Jan. 20. (Photo: Ski Classics)

In the men’s race, Gjerdalen struck about 500 meters before the finish to take the win in 2:57:29.0, 7.1 seconds ahead of Ilya Chernousov (Bauer Ski Team) in second and 11.5 seconds ahead of Gjerdalen’s Santander teammate Anders Aukland in third.

About 50 men stayed together until the long climb to St. Moritz, where Morten Eide Pedersen (Team BN Bank) attacked to split up the group.

The 13 skiers that remained in the lead group after that stuck together until the final 13 k, where Pedersen attacked again. Now they were down to four: Pedersen, Chernousov, Gjerdalen, and Aukland. Gjerdalen attacked with about half a kilometer remaining to take the win.

“I had an easy race,” Gjerdalen said, according to the release. “I had really good skis, and the old man Aukland helped me a lot. I had a perfect day on the tracks, and I didn’t have to push too hard in the race. I knew I was going to be strong in the final climb and made my move right before the finish.”

Aukland is 45. Gjerdalen is 34.

Pedersen finished fourth (+27.6) and was dubbed the “Visma Skier of the Day” for his ambitious attacks during the race. Santander took five of the top seven with Oskar Kardin in fifth, Andreas Nygaard in sixth, and Øyvind Moen Fjeld in seventh.

In the overall “Champion” standings, Johansson Norgren leads Smutná by 175 points and Lindborg is just another 5 points back in third.

Gjerdalen leads the men’s overall standings by 120 points over Pedersen in second and is 150 ahead of Kardin in third.

The next stop on the circuit, the Marcialonga is set for Sunday, Jan. 28, in Trentino, Italy.

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FIS Wordloppet Cup: Dolomitenlauf (Obertilliach, Austria)

France’s Adrien Mougel (Jobstation Rossignol) winning his first FIS Worldloppet Cup, the 2018 Dolomitenlauf 42 k freestyle, on Sunday in Obertilliach, Austria. (Photo: FIS Worldloppet Cup)

The 44th annual Dolomitenlauf marked the opening race of the 2018 FIS Worldloppet Cup on Sunday, and France’s Aurelie Dabudyk (Team Haute Savoie Nordic) won the race for the third-straight year. Adrien Mougel, also from France, of Jobstation Rossignol, won the men’s race for his first Worldloppet victory.

Dabudyk dominated the women’s race, winning by 1:08 minutes over fellow French skier Roxane Lacroix with a time of 2:06:01.1. Sweden’s Maria Gräfnings, of the SAS Pro Team, placed third (+1:21.7).

“To be honest, I don’t know what makes me that strong,” Dabudyk said, according to a Worldloppet press release. “My preparation went very well, I am feeling strong, and I am just happy with my third victory here in Austria.”

Ten men remained in the hunt up until the last few kilometers, before Mougel broke away on the final climb leading toward the finish in Obertilliach. He took the win in 1:55:05.7, just 1.1 seconds ahead of two other French skier Gerard Agnellet in second, and Mougel’s teammate Benoit Chauvet followed 7.8 seconds back in third.

“I changed my training this year a little bit and I think it payed off now,” Mougel said at the post-race press conference. “But it was only at the final hill when I knew, I really can win this thing. I am feeling strong and I am excited about the Worldloppet Cup winter.”

After one race, Dabudyk and Mougel lead the FIS Worldloppet Cup standings with 100 points apiece. The second-place skiers each have 80 points and 60 points was awarded for third place.

The next Worldloppet Cup marathon, the König Ludwig Lauf, will be held in Germany’s Ammergauer Alps on Sunday, Feb. 4.

Results: Women | Men 

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Johansson Norgren, Nygaard Win La Sgambeda

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