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Olex Ends 30-Year German Drought at König Ludwig Lauf

Germany's Max Olex, of the Adidas XCS-Team (l) celebrates his victory in the König Ludwig Lauf on Feb. 5 in Oberammergau, Germany. Olex, who previously skied for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, became the race's first German winner in 30 years. (Photo: Worldloppet.com)

Germany’s Max Olex, of the Adidas XCS-Team (l) celebrates his victory in the König Ludwig Lauf on Feb. 5 in Oberammergau, Germany. Olex, who previously skied for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, became the race’s first German winner in 30 years. (Photo: Worldloppet.com)

After warmer than usual temperatures and rain it was uncertain if the fourth stop of the Worldloppet circuit would happen or not on Sunday, Feb. 5. The organizers of the 44th König Ludwig Lauf in Oberammergau, Germany, able to work all night in order to get the conditions ready for the classic and freestyle races, which were shortened from 50 kilometers to 38 k. After Germany had been without a homegrown winner in the race for 30 years, Max Olex, of the Adidas XCS-Team (who previously raced at the University of Alaska Fairbanks), was able to end the drought in the elite men’s freestyle race, outlasting Damien Tarantola (Haute-Savoie Nordic Team) and Buttin Bastien (Haute-Savoie Nordic Team) in a photo finish. Olex (1:26:20.6) was able to outlunge Tarantola (+0.1) and Bastien (+0.8). Toni Livers (Team Gel Rossignol) was leading on the final uphill in front of the pack of 20 men, but a crash on the downhill forced him to slow down, allowing Olex and company to overtake him before the finish. Livers ended up finishing sixth (+1.8), just ahead two Americans, Tyler Kornfield in seventh (+2.4) and David Norris in eighth (+2.9), teammates at Alaska Pacific University.

“There are those days where you know, you can do it!” Olex said, according to a press release. “It was always one of my biggest dreams to win the König Ludwig Lauf, since here is my home and today was the day. I woke up at 5:00 this morning and couldn’t sleep anymore, so I went outside to see the conditions and saw that they are perfect for me. My words are still missing about this victory!”

In the women’s 38 k classic race, Aurelie Dabudyk (Haute-Savoie Nordic Team) the current overall Worldloppet leader was challenged by Maria Gräfnings (SAS & TG Hütten Team). It was a close race until the final stretch where Dabudyk (1:36:34.4) was able to hold off Gräfnings by seven-tenths of a second. Gräfnings’s teammate Tatjana Mannima rounded out the podium in third (+39.2).

“Today it was a very hard race for me,” Dabudyk said, according to the press release. “I didn’t feel so great after the Marcialonga, but fortunately, I was strong enough to win. Now I need some days break and then preparations for our home race, the Transjurasienne!”

The next Worldloppet race will be the 68 k freestyle La Transjurassienne on Feb. 12 in Morez, France.

Results: Men | Women

— Ian Tovell

arthritis

Smutná Holds Off Norgren; Gjerdalen Wins Third Marcialonga

The sixth race in the Ski Classic series took place on Sunday, Jan. 29, with the 44th annual Marcialonga, a 57-kilometer classic race (this year from Mozzin to Cavalese, Italy).  The race was orginally suppoed to be 70k, but was shortened due to low snow. In the women’s race, Britta Johansson Norgen of Team Lager 157, and Katerina Smutná (Team Santander) broke away from the group early and were able to keep up the pace until the finish. Smutná was able to outlast Norgen at the finish to beat her by 0.8 seconds, taking the win in 2:22:46.4 hours. Sara Lindborg (+4:22.2) of Team Serneke rounded out the podium. Norgren had a game plan to keep a fast pace throughout the whole race so the only person that would be able to follow her was Smutná. She was able to achieve that goal, but just didn’t have enough power at the end to defend her 2016 Marcialonga title….

France Dominates Dolomitenlauf, FIS Worldloppet Cup Opener

The 43rd Dolomitenlauf opened the FIS Worldloppet Cup season last weekend in Obertilliach, Austria. This was originally scheduled to be the second stage of the International Ski Federation (FIS) marathon circuit, however the first stage at La Foulée Blanche in France was canceled earlier this month. Conditions were reported as ideal with sunshine. On the men’s side, eight out of the top 10 places all went to French skiers, with the top 10 consisting of four teams and the 10th place finisher just 30 seconds behind the winner.  Ivan Perrillat-Boiteux of the Haute-Savoie Nordic Team took the overall win in 1:39:02.8, outlasting Candide Pralong (Team GEL Interim Rossignol) by 2.2 seconds.  Perillat-Boiteux’s teammate, Loïc Guigonnet finished third (+9.9), before first-time FIS Marathon Cup competitor Kari Varis of Finland (+11.2). “Our team is very strong this season and I am happy to have this team,” Perrillat-Boiteux said, according to a FIS Worldloppet Cup press release. “I also love the competition with the Rossignol team. Of course, I am happy about…

Nygaard, Rocheva Take Vasaloppet China; Fritz Top American

Andreas Nygaard (Team Santander) and Olga Rocheva (Russian Marathon Team) took the overall victories in the Vasaloppet China, a 50-kilometer classic mass start race that covered two 25 k laps through Jingyuetan Park in Changchun, China, earlier Wednesday. The race also doubled as Stage 3 of the six-stage China Tour de Ski. Lauren Fritz (APU) placed 18th to lead the four American skiers competing in the Tour. At the front of the pack the women’s race was all Rocheva, who won in 2:29:01, nearly two minutes over Swedish skier Britta Johansson Norgren (Team Lager 157). The two were together through a halfway sprint at 25 k, according to a Visma Ski Classics press release, at which point Rocheva sped up to take the sprint, then continued her acceleration to open a gap that she kept all the way to the finish. Norgren ultimately crossed the line 1:43 back of Rocheva….

Gjerdalen, Norgren Win La Sgambeda

The Visma Ski Classics series continued this past weekend in Livigno, Italy, with the first marathon of the season, La Sgambeda. The conditions were perfect as a cold night before ensured a hard surface for skiers and the sunshine on race day guaranteed for a great 30-kilometer classic race. Both the men’s and women’s races ended with a sprint to the line. In the men’s competition, the lead group stayed together until the final climb. There, Norway’s Tord Asle Gjerdalen (Team Santander) and Russia’s Ilya Chernousov (Team Pioneer Investment) passed Norway’s Petter Eliassen (Team LeasePlan Go), who had led most of the race. Gjerdalen and Chernousov came to the finish neck and neck, but Gjerdalen was able to take the win by 1.3 seconds. Eliassen, who won last week, finished third, 2.7 seconds behind the winner. “It was a tough race and I just tried to stay behind John Kristian Dahl and let Petter do all the work,”…

Eliassen, Smutná Kick Off Ski Classics with Prologue Win

The seventh season of the Visma Ski Classics officially began this past weekend with the 8-kilometer prologue on Sunday in Pontresina, Switzerland. The starting order was reversed so the winners of last season’s prologue started first. This time around, last year’s last-place finishers Team Gel Intérim/Rossignol took first. The individual races both on the men and women side came down to the wire. In the men’s race, last year’s overall Ski Classics champion Petter Eliasson of Team LeasePlan Go started off slow and was 12 seconds out of first at the first timing point, but was able to pick it up the second half and claim the overall victory in 19:42.66 minutes. He beat Bastien Poirrier (Team Gel Intérim/Rossignol) by 8.53 seconds for the win. “The plan was to start off easy so I would have more energy for the final two laps,” he said in a TV interview with NRK. “I hoped that my conditioning would be better this weekend and…

Announcing Inaugural CXC Marathon Cup Winners

(Press release) Six marathon events across three states, with grueling courses, made up the inaugural CXC Marathon Cup series. Weekend after weekend skiers were challenged not only by the length and terrain of each marathon, but everything in between, including: frigid and warm temperatures, challenging snow conditions, and the fatigue of skiing six marathons in a little over two months. With strength, determination and endless endurance, two skiers persevered through the challenges of the marathon series to claim the coveted CXC Marathon Cup overall title, CXC Team athletes Chris Pappathopoulos and Natalia Naryshkina. The inaugural year of the CXC Marathon Cup could not have been possible, without the hundreds of event organizers who worked hard to run these great events. We want to recognize them for their efforts and crown these events with the CXC Marathon Cup Event Awards which include: Best Overall Event, Best Grooming, Most Heroic Effort and Best Website. “The marathon…

FIS Worldloppet Cup and Visma Ski Classics Conclude

Nice ending of the @skiclassics season with another beauiful ski on the mountains around @valadalensfjallstation. 2nd place at #arefjallsloppet behind Justyna which even got me into 2nd overall. #teamexspirit #seasonend #finalclimb #killingmesoftly A photo posted by Seraina Boner (@serainabonerski) on Apr 3, 2016 at 10:34am PDT The Visma Ski Classics series wrapped up on Saturday with the 63 k Årefjällsloppet in Sweden, which had to be partially relocated due to snow conditions; the finish line was moved from Åre to Edsåsdalen. In the men’s race a group of eight were together almost to the finish, when Johan Kjølstad and John Kristian Dahl of Team United Bakeries were able to pull away. Kjølstad took the win 5.79 seconds ahead of Dahl, with Petter Eliassen of Team LeasePlan Go taking third +8.87. Daniel Richardsson of Team Exspirit was the top Swede in fourth, +12.91. “That was it hard work in the mountains and I [was…

Alaska’s Collegiate Skiers Dominate Oosik Classic Podiums

By Gavin Kentch A host of collegiate skiers from Alaska’s two NCAA ski programs dominated the top of the results sheet in the 16th annual Oosik Classic, a 50-kilometer classic race held on the rivers and woods near Talkeetna, Alaska, last Saturday, March 19.  Skiers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) took the top six spots in the men’s race, while the women’s podium featured representatives of the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), UAF and a speedy citizen racer among the top three. The Oosik Classic was founded in 2001, and aims to put the “country” back into “cross-country skiing.”  The race is notorious and beloved in the Alaska ski community for its unorthodox courses, distances that may charitably be described as approximate, and festive party atmosphere that characterizes at least three fourths of the field, as well as a number of unsanctioned aid stations.  This year’s race saw relatively…

Dahl, Boner Tops in Birkebeiner; Ski Classics Titles All-But-Decided

Fantastic race by Seraina Boner, winning @birken_no for the fourth time! Read more at our Facebook page! #teamexspirit #w #årefjällsloppet @trimtex @swix_sport #toko @valadalensfjallstation @skipnutrition #omoaktivsport @falke #Wathletes @skiclassics #langrenn A photo posted by Team Exspirit (@teamexspirit) on Mar 19, 2016 at 9:02am PDT Both the men’s and women’s editions of the 2016 Birkebeiner finished in dramatic style: the men’s in a four-way sprint for the line, and the women’s in a come-from-behind victory. After 54 kilometers from Rena to Lillehammer, Norway, that belonged to Seraina Boner of Switzerland, who started the race well behind the leaders. The 2011-2013 champion of the race, Boner began to feel better as the race went on. When she passed Visma Ski Classics overall leader and Swede Britta Johansson Norgren going up the course’s big climb, she realized that things might be going better than she had thought. With just 14 kilometers to go, Justyna Kowalczyk of…