The Battle of Vasaloppet

John Kristian Dahl (NOR) won Vasaloppet 2014. Photo: Madshus.com

 

After completely plastering the podium in Vasaloppet 2014, the Madshus marathon racing team is to the overall victory in a race field that will be stronger than ever.

 

Last year’s podium was entirely occupied by Madshus racers: John Kristian Dahl (NOR) of Team United Bakeries won the race in 4:14:33, three seconds ahead of teammate Johan Kjoelstad (NOR), while Jörgen Brink (SWE) was third in 4:14:38, all on Madshus skis.

 

Dahl, a former national team sprint racer, won Vasaloppet on his first attempt at the legendary 90-kilometer event. On Sunday, he will be back on the start line to defend his title on Sunday. But so will most of the world’s strongest ski racers, including long-distance specialists, World Cup racers, World Champions and Olympic medalists.

 

Among Dahl’s top challengers are fellow Madshus marathon racers: Tore Bjoerseth Berdal (NOR) of Team United Bakeries, who is coming off his first Ski Classics victory just weeks ago, as well as United Bakeries teammate Oeystein Pettersen (NOR), who won the La Diagonela and was third in Marcialonga in January and third in the La Sgambeda in December. And for Brink, the Vasaloppet is always the main season goal.

 

Brink is the only athlete to post a true hat trick in the Vasaloppet since wooden skis went out of style in the 1970s. Brink won Vasaloppet in 2010, 2011 and 2012. In 2013 Brink was on track for four straight victories, but racing the 90-kilometer course with a fever, Brink was narrowly beat on the final stretch and ended up fourth.

 

Finally, Brink also set a new course record when he won the race in 2012: The swift Swede polished off the course in 3 hours 38 minutes and 41 seconds.

 

World Cup skiers flock to Vasaloppet
This year, Vasaloppet will attract a particularly strong field. With the 2015 FIS World Championships taking place in Falun, Sweden, just a week prior to Vasaloppet this year, several top World Cup racers and Olympians are signed up for the legendary 90-kilometer classic race.

 

“The way things are looking now, this could be a historic Vasalopp where we get a real fight between the experienced cross-country specialists and the established World Championship and Olympic skiers. We have had championship skiers before, but 2015 looks to be a year where we can present a start field filled with the absolute world elite on both the women’s and men’s side,” Vasaloppet’s acting Sports Manager Johan Eriksson wrote in a press release from Vasaloppet on Wednesday.

 

With the Ski Classics long-distance series gaining traction over the past few years, an increasing number of top-level skiers specialize in the marathon distances. For them, Vasaloppet is one of the main goals for the season, as the race is the longest and oldest of its kind in the world. Vasaloppet is the sixth of the nine races in the 2014-15 Ski Classics series.

 

The Madshus-Vasaloppet connection
First organized in 1922, Vasaloppet is the oldest, longest and biggest cross-country skiing event in the world, attracting nearly 16,000 racers to the 90-kilometer classic event from Sälen to Mora.

 

Madshus is proud to announce that starting September 1, 2014, Madshus and Vasaloppet are partners, making Madshus the exclusive ski and boot supplier of Vasaloppet. With the partnership agreement, Madshus will have a prominent presence at the Vasaloppet events.

 

“Our goal is to be present where our customers are, and to be one of the strongest brands in Nordic skiing. Vasaloppet is in itself one of the strongest brands in sports and fitness events. We are really looking forward to working with Vasaloppet, says Nils Hult, CEO of Madshus.

 

“The partnership with Vasaloppet is an important and significant step for us, and the fact that Vasaloppet chooses Madshus as their exclusive partner for the next four years is a strong statement that firmly supports our status and position in the industry, Hult says.

 

Every year, almost 70,000 skiers participate in Vasaloppets vintervecka, the weeklong ski festival consisting of nine cross-country ski events with the original Vasaloppet as the final race.

 

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More Medals – and It’s Not Over Yet!

 

Heidi Weng with her relay gold medal. Photo: Nordic Focus

 

Gold and bronze in the women’s 4x5km relay on Thursday – after a bronze medal in the 10km skate on Tuesday, and still three days to go!

 

The first week of the 2015 FIS World Championships in Falun (SWE) resulted in gold and silver medals in the cross-country team sprint and the Nordic Combined.

Read more: Gold and hardware in Falun

 

The second week of the Championships opened with Caitlin Gregg (USA) polishing off the 10-kilometer skate course in 25:55.7 and earning a bronze medal for the United States in the tough conditions Tuesday.

 

Gregg was barely seven seconds behind her teammate Jessie Diggins in second place, and with their medals, Gregg and Diggins wrote history for the US Ski Team: They are the first U.S. women to earn individual World Championship medals in a distance (non-sprint) event.

 

Asked by reporters whether she had believed she would be on the podium today, Gregg said: “We knew we had it in us. We have been working for this for quite some time. You just never know when it’s going to happen. Now we have done it once, we will do it again.”

(Charlotte Kalla of Sweden won the 10km skate race on home turf in front of a ballistic home crowd.)

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Caitlin Gregg (USA) after her bronze medal 10k skate race. Photo: Peter Blom

 

On Thursday, Heidi Weng raced the first leg for Norway in the women’s relay, leaving her teammates in an excellent position to win the event.

 

Weng struggled in the 10km skate on Tuesday, which is typically one of her top events, and accordingly, the relay victory on Thursday provided a sweet revenge.

 

“This victory is huge for us as a team. I was so nervous I was shaking all morning and even through my race,” Weng said after the race.

 

“Now I’m just so happy. We really deserved this,” she added.

 

Her teammate and veteran champion Marit Bjoergen, who skied the anchor leg for Norway, said Weng was overripe to perform.

 

“Heidi was bursting at the seams. We had to calm her down a bit before the start. She had so much power to put out there,” Bjoergen said with a laugh.

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Heidi Weng at the relay on Thursday. Photo: Nordic Focus

 

On tap for the final days of the World Championships are three cross-country events: the men’s 4×7.5km relay on Friday, the women’s 30km classic mass start on Saturday and the men’s 50km classic mass start on Sunday, as well as the large hill team sprint for Nordic Combined on Saturday.

 

For the women’s 30km classic on Saturday, Madshus racer Kristin Stoermer Steira (NOR) will be joining her teammates for her first event at the Falun World Championships.

 

Program Cross-country (all times are Central European Time)
Feb 27: Relay men (4×7.5km), at 1:30pm
Feb 28: 30km Classic mass start women, at 1pm
March 1: 50km Classic mass start men, at 1:30pm

Program Nordic Combined (Central European Time)
Feb 28: Team Sprint Large Hill/2×7.5km, jumping at 10am, XC at 4pm

More about the 2015 FIS Nordic World Championships

 

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Gold and Hardware in Falun

 

Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg skied the first leg for Norway and was out in front from the very start in the team sprint at the 2015 FIS World Championships in Falun Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

 

Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg dominated the cross-country team sprint and helped Norway to gold at the 2015 FIS World Championships. But there were plenty of highlights across the board this weekend.

 

Ingvild Flugstad Oesteberg (NOR) has dominated the sprints and the short distances ever since the World Cup started in November. She earned a gold medal in the team sprint and a silver medal in the individual sprint at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Sunday, she was back for more, helping Norway to the gold in Falun by a huge margin.

 

Oestberg went out determined on her first lap. She increased the gap on her second lap, and on her final lap, she appeared to gain a second on each pole plant. Norway won by almost 10 seconds in a sprint, where the teams usually are separated by fractions of a second.

 

“This means a lot to me. I have known Maiken (Caspersen Falla) for so long, we have pushed each other for years, making each other better. So winning this medal WITH her if huge,” Oestberg said after her race.

 

Oh So Close!
Championship rookie Didrik Toenseth (NOR) was looking at a podium finish in his very first FIS Nordic World Championships event, the 30km duathlon on Saturday. Now he’s looking at more pushups.

 

“I was leading for about half of the race, and thinking that ‘this is it.’ I’m going to nail it today,” Toenseth said about the first half of the race. But then about halfway through, Toenseth hit the wall.

 

“In the middle of the race, I was just thinking that I needed to just finish and go home and work on pushups,” Toenseth said.

 

But he fought his way back and with just a couple of kilometers to go, he was in the top three. Toenseth kept his position until the final stretch to the finish line, and barely missed the podium in the last five meters. He collapsed across the finish line. In a very impressive fourth place.

 

Read more about Toenseth’s race

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Didrik Toenseth (NOR) was 4th in the 30km duathlon on Saturday, narrowly missing the podium. Photo: Nordic Focus

 

The gold that slipped away
Toenseth wasn’t the only case of “Oh So Close” this weekend. Magnus Moan and his Norwegian teammates were chasing the gold in the Nordic Combined team competition Sunday afternoon.

 

Norway was fifth after the jumping competition, and ended up taking home the silver medal, 23 seconds shy of the gold.

 

“We take home a medal. Right now we are just a little bit disappointed, but we’ll brush that off and look ahead,” Moan said after the race.

 

Moan skied the first leg for Norway, started 28 seconds behind Germany in first place, and sent his teammate out only 4.4 seconds behind Germany.

 

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Magnus Moan helped Norway to silver in the Nordic Combined team competition on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

 

Chasing a medal
Heidi Weng
(NOR) is not entirely satisfied with the start of the championships, and seventh place in the women’s 15km duathlon (7.5km classic +7.5km skate) on Saturday was short of her own expectations.

 

“My body just wasn’t there. The classic portion of the race was really tough, and it’s almost never hard for me to ski classic. Then after we switched to skating, I wasn’t even really racing. I just wanted to get to the finish,” Weng said after her race, admitting that she had higher expectations for the World Championships.

 

“I had a really races in Tour de Ski. I thought I would have even better races now. But it didn’t turn out like that,” said Weng.

 

Tuesday, she has another shot at a medal in the women’s 10km skate, one of her favorite events.

 

Schedule for the rest of the 2015 FIS World Championships in Falun (SWE)
All times are Central European Time (CET)
Cross-Country
Feb 24: 10km freestyle women, at 1:30pm
Feb 25: 15km freestyle men, at 1:30pm
Feb 26: Relay women (4x5km), at 1:30pm
Feb 27: Relay men (4×7.5km), at 1:30pm
Feb 28: 30km Classic mass start women, at 1pm
March 1: 50km Classic mass start men, at 1:30pm

Nordic Combined
Feb 26: Gundersen Large Hill/10km, jumping at 10am, XC at 3:15pm
Feb 28: Team Sprint Large Hill/2×7.5km, jumping at 10am, XC at 4pm

More about the 2015 FIS Nordic World Championships

 

 

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Get Ready for Race Time!

 

Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) smoked everyone at the World Cup in Tallin (EST), won two sprint medals at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi (RUS) and is back for more in Falun this week. Photo: Nordic Focus

 

The 2015 FIS World Championships open on Wednesday February 18, and conclude on March 1. Here’s your cheat-sheet to all the action in Falun.

 

Program Cross-country (all times at CET)
February 19: Classic Sprint, men and women. Qualifiers at 1pm, finals starting at 3:15pm
Feb 21: Skiathlon – women 15km (7.5km+7.5km) at 1pm, men 30km (15km+15km) at 2:30pm
Feb 22: Team sprint freestyle, men and women. Qualifiers at 12:30pm, finals at 2:30pm
Feb 24: 10km freestyle women, at 1:30pm
Feb 25: 15km freestyle men, at 1:30pm
Feb 26: Relay women (4x5km), at 1:30pm
Feb 27: Relay men (4×7.5km), at 1:30pm
Feb 28: 30km Classic mass start women, at 1pm
March 1: 50km Classic mass start men, at 1:30pm

 

Program Nordic Combined (all times at CET)
February 20: Gundersen Normal Hill/10km skate, jumping at 10am, xc at 4pm
Feb 22: Team competition Normal Hill/4x5km, jumping at 10am, xc at 4pm
Feb 26: Gundersen Large Hill/10km, jumping at 10am, xc at 3:15pm
Feb 28: Team Sprint Large Hill/2×7.5km, jumping at 10am, xc at 4pm

 

More about the 2015 FIS Nordic World Championships

 

 

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Training with the Best: 5-hour Double-Pole Sessions

 

 

Tore Bjoerseth Berdal. Photo: Team United Bakeries

 

Madshus marathon racer Tore Bjoerseth Berdal (NOR) has taken a giant step toward the top of the international level in the long-distance races, and recently was just a short toe away from the victory at Koenig Ludwig Lauf.

 

Berdal eagerly shares his training advice, and the road to success is as simple as it is harsh: there are no shortcuts to the top. The foundation is built over several years of hard work, and Berdal has spent three years building enough strength to double-pole most of the classic marathon events.

 

“I generally double-pole about 1000 kilometers every month in the dryland season, and my favorite workout is 5 hours double pole distance where we stop and eat sweet rolls along the way,” Berdal says with a grin.

 

That’s a lot of distance and a lot of hours, and Berdal admits that they are challenging.

 

“At first, I was so tired after these workouts that I couldn’t feel my arms,” he recalls.

 

And the effort is paying off. He feels stronger than ever, and hardly thinks twice about skipping the kick wax now. The first three events of the year were no-brainers in that regards, Berdal says.

(Story continues below)

 

Tore Bjoerseth Berdal double-poled into 2nd place in the 2015 Koenig Ludwig Lauf in Germany on February 1. Photo: Ski Classics

 

“Everyone can double-pole Marcialonga. The race takes about two hours and there are nine minutes where kick wax would be useful: One minute in Moena, and the 8-minute climb up to the finish in Cavalese. The rest of the time, youre pretty much going downhill or flat, and kick wax holds you back,” Berdal explains.

 

The 50-km Jizerska in the Czech republic, Marcialonga in Italy, which was cut from 70km to 57km this year, and the 46-km Koenig Ludwig Lauf in Germany are all challenging, but strong double-polers benefit more from improved glide overall, than lack of kick on a few hills.

 

However, there are still some events where Berdal will wait until the morning of the race before he decides on whether to kick wax.

 

“Vasaloppet is 90km and the longest event on the schedule, and it’s not true that the course is flat. It’s littered with hills all along the course that drain energy by the buckets,” Berdal says.

 

“And the Birkebeiner will be interesting. This year, there will be a lot of World Cup skiers in the elite wave, and they will set a wicked pace up the first hills from the start trying to drop the double-polers. But if you can hang on up those hills, you’ve got a lot done. From there the glide will be the most important,” he says.

 

“I still don’t know what to do, and the snow conditions is important. There is a huge difference between double-poling up the hills in rock solid, icy tracks and battling several inches of new heavy snow. I will have to make the call on the morning of the race,” he says.

 

The best training advice Berdal has received is to listen to his body.

 

“I have learned a lot from the other more experienced guys on the team, such as John Kristian Dahl and Johan Kjoelstad. We have a really good training environment in Team United Bakeries. We train hard for hours on end, it’s a fun group to be with, and there is no better way to improve than being challenged every day,” says Berdal, explaining that training too much or too hard would be a much bigger risk if he didn’t have his training buddies.

 

“We take good care of each other too. If you show up to a workout looking tired or you are unable to keep up to your normal level, they will get on your case and order you to rest up. We are very supportive of each other and that is very reassuring,” Berdal says.

Tore Bjoerseth Berdal has thousands of kilometers on roller skis in the bank before the season starts. Photo: Team United Bakeries

 

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Dominating the Long Runs

 

Oeystein Pettersen (NOR) won Holmenkollmarsjen 2015 on Saturday. Photo: Magnus Nyløkken

 

On Saturday, Madshus marathon racer Oeystein Pettersen (NOR) of Team United Bakeries won the prestigious 54-kilometer Holmenkollmarsjen in Oslo (NOR), with a field worthy of a 50km at the World Cup.

 

Winning the legendary classic race, which is literally in his back yard, in front of World Cup leader Martin Johnsrud Sundby, also a local, was a dream come true for Pettersen. The former national team sprint specialist finished in 2:28:34, and won by 11 seconds.

 

“I felt great and it was my day. The entire last week, I’ve been at home training on these trails, and honestly, there isn’t a better place to ski. It was a bit windy from time to time, but I had an incredible double-pole race through the woods. I knew I had a good base, but winning this race, that was out of this world,” Pettersen said after the race, adding that double-poling the brutal course from Soerkedalen to Holmenkollen is quite a challenge.

 

“I’ve done insane amounts of double-pole specific training leading up to this season. I wouldn’t recommend citizen racers to attempt this course without kickwax,” he said.

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Oeystein Pettersen (NOR) won the 2015 Holmenkollmarsjen in Oslo. Photo: Madshus

 

 

Madshus racers plaster the marathon podiums: Oyestein Pettersen wins Holmenkollmarsjen, Tim Tscharnke wins Toblach-Cortina and Stanislav Rezac bags his sixth victory in the Transjurassienne.

 

On track for the FIS World Championships
Also on Saturday, Tim Tshcarnke (GER) won the 30-kilometer FIS Worldloppet race from Toblach to Cortina in Italy. For Tscharnke, the marathon race is a part of his peaking plan for the upcoming 2015 FIS World Championships in Falun (SWE), where he expects the 30-kilometer duathlon to be one of his best events.

 

Tshcarnke surprised both himself and the World Cup community with his victory in the 15-kilometer classic mass start in Val di Fiemme (ITA) during the 2015 FIS Tour de Ski in January. That performance secured him a ticket to the World Championships, which start on February 18.

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Tim Tscharnke surprised everyone with his victory in the 2015 Tour de Ski 10km classic mass start in Val di Fiemme. (FIS/Thomas Zipfel)

 

Rezac Wins Transjurassienne for the sixth time
And finally, Madshus marathon racer Stanislav Rezac (CZE) braved the brutal, gusty conditions in the French Jura Mountains and won the 56-kilometer classic race La Transjurassienne on Saturday, which was the fourth event in the 2015 FIS Marathon Cup.

 

“I am very happy that I could win this race again,” Rezac said, adding that he had 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.

 

But while Rezac knows the trails like the back of his hand, he didn’t expect to win.

 

“As it was a FIS Marathon Cup today, a lot more god athletes took part, and I wasn’t so sure if I would win it again. Anyway, it was a hard race, too,” Rezac said.

 

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

 

Both the men’s and the women’s fields were stacked, with all the top contenders in the FIS Marathon Cup on the start line among more than 800 participants total.

 

Stanislav Rezac won the 2015 Transjurassienne. Photo: FIS/Worldloppet

 

 

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Medals and Podiums by the Bucket

 

 

Barbro Kvaale (NOR) won both gold and silver medals at the 2015 FIS U23 World Championships in Almaty (KAZ) this weekend. Photo: FIS

 

Madshus racers shine in both the short and the long runs, bagging hardware and podiums both at the U23 World Championships and the IBU Biathlon World Cup.

 

At the U23 World Championships in Alamaty, Kazakhstan, Madshus cross-country skier Barbro Kvaale (NOR) sweeps up the medals. On Thursday, Kvaale earned the gold medal in the women’s 10km freestyle event, and continued with silver in the 7.5km+7.5km skiathlon on Saturday.

 

Kvaale also placed 7th in the opening classic sprint on Tuesday.

 

Straight to the Podium on First Attempt
Madshus biathlete Marte Olsbu helped Norway to second place in the first-ever single mixed relay World Cup this weekend.

 

The single mixed relay brings a new dimension to the sport for both the teams and fans.

 

“We wanted to present one more team event where nations with only one good male and female athlete could have a strong chance for top rankings,” said Borut Nunar, who is the IBU World Cup Race Director.

 

A team consists of a woman and a man, with the woman skiing 6K and the man skiing 7.5K.

 

“This is an attractive, short biathlon competition, with short loops and each athlete shooting four times,” Nunar said.

(Story continues below)

Marte Olsbu helped Norway to 2nd place in the very first IBU World Cup single mixed relay on Friday. Photo: Nordic Focus

 

The format for the new relay competition is as follows:
Each team competing in the single mixed relay is comprised of one woman and one man.

 

The woman starts and after shooting both prone and standing tags off to the man in a hand-over area located just after the penalty loop. The male competitor then shoots both prone and standing and tags off to the same woman again. Each competitor on the team completes four bouts of shooting and the associated ski loops.

 

After the final bout of shooting by the male competitor he skis the 1.5 km course and goes to the finish.

 

Lapped competitors will be stopped when they pass the penalty loop timing point after being lapped. The penalty loop for this competition is 75 meters in length. All other rules and procedures for relays apply to the single mixed relay.

 

Pre-Worlds next
The IBU World Cup now moves to Holmenkollen (NOR) for the next World Cup round. This event also serves as the Pre-World Championships, as Holmenkollen is hosting the 2016 IBU World Championships next year.

 

Madshus biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR) is sitting out this week’s races in favor of training at altitude, which is a step to prepare for the 2015 IBU World Championships in Kontiolahti (FIN) on March 3-15. Both Bjoerndalen and fellow Madshus biathlete Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR) are preselected for the Norwegian National team squad racing at the IBU World Championships in Finland.

 

 

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A Tenth of A Second from Victory

 

 

Oh so close: Tore Bjoerseth Berdal was one tenth of a second from first place in the Ski Classics event Koenig Ludwig Lauf on Sunday. Photo: Ski Classics

 

Madshus marathon racer Tore Bjoerseth Berdal (NOR) finished the 46-kilometer Koenig Ludwig Lauf in Bavaria in 1:59:43.00, and took second place less than a toe-length behind the winner.

 

The Koenig Ludwig Lauf 2015 became a royal drama when after 46 kilometers only a tenth of a second separated the winner from second place.

 

Petter Eliassen (NOR) snagged first place, clocking in at 1:59:42.9 while Berdal of Team United Bakeries finished in 1:59:43.00. In that perspective, the 1.6-second margin down to third place was huge.

 

At the starting line, the athletes were looking at 46km through the Ammergau Alps in perfect conditions. 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 still made attempts to break away from the main group, but it all came down to a sprint and a photo finish.

 

Last weekend, Berdal was fifth in the Marcialonga, with Madshus marathon teammate Oeystein Pettersen in third place. This weekend Pettersen, who also races for Team United Bakeries, was 16th in the Koenig Ludwig Lauf, but took back the green sprint bib and is now leading the overall Ski Classics sprint competition by 20 points.

 

Complete results and standing

(Story continues below)

Madshus racer Oeystein Pettersen (NOR) of Team United Bakeries won the first sprint and moved back into the Ski Classics sprint bib. Photo: Ski Classics

 

Perfect conditions
With solid snowfall last weekend and a good week for the course crew the week before the race, the Koenig Ludwig Lauf was running the original racecourse this year. The 46km course treats racers to spectacular views of the old Bavarian castle Schloss Linderhof. Saturday also featured a 23-kilometer freestyle event.

 

The 46km course starts in Ettal and will go through the Ammergau Alps by passing the villages of Graswang and Linderhof castle on the way to the finish line in Oberammergau.

 

Ski Classics sprints are in Graswang after 9km and Steinbrucke after 33km.

 

Long and proud history
König Ludwig Lauf was run for the first time on March 17, 1968. The distances were 45km and 90km. 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.

 

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So Close in Marcialonga

 

Madshus Marathon racers Oeystein Pølsa Pettersen (left) and Tore Berdal, both of Team United Bakeries, pulled in to third and fifth place, respectively, in the 2015 Marcialonga. They will be back. Photo: Stian Groenaas

 

Oeystein Pettersen (NOR) showed no respect to the veterans when he debuted onto the podium in his first attempt at the Marcialonga on Sunday.

 

The Madshus Marathon team racer looked like he was going to pull off the victory until only a few hundred meters remained, but ended up third, only seconds behind the winner.

 

Pettersen, a former Norwegian national sprint team racer, didn’t just enter the Marcialonga for the first time, he did it in the yellow Ski Classics overall leader bib, and he lead the pack with 2km to go. And he’s hungry for more.

 

“It was fun to race my first event in the yellow jersey, it was fun to race the Marcialonga for the first time, and it was fun to make my mark on the race. I’m proud of my performance, and I can already announce that next year, I will ski more aggressively and make my move earlier on the hill,” Pettersen said after the race.

 

Unusually fierce
Due to lack of snow, the course was cut from 70 k to 57 k, which made the competition even fiercer than normal with a fight for positions right from the get-go.

 

At 10km to the finish, there was still a pack of 20 racers in the front, and Morten Eide Pedersen (NOR)  tried to pull away from the field, but failed to lose the rest. At 5km from the finish, Tord Asle Gjerdalen (NOR) tried to go, with the same result. At 2km to the finish, going into the final, dreaded monster hill, Pettersen managed to get a gap on the field, and looked like he was going to pull it off. But with 500 meters to go, the race turned into a 3-way sprint.

 

However, Gjerdalen and Anders Aukland (NOR), both of Team Santander, caught Pettersen during the last half-kilometer, turning the race into a three-way sprint. Gjerdalen was the strongest in the end, snagging the victory from his teammate by 2.5 seconds and earning his first Ski Classics victory. Madshus racer Tore Berdal (NOR), also of Team United Bakeries, was fifth overall.

 

Held onto the overall lead
The 57-k classic race Marcialonga in Northern Italy was the fifth event in the 2015 Ski Classics series and the third event in the 2015 FIS Marathon Cup. Pettersen’s Team United Bakeries remains in the top of the team competition, while Team Santander moves up to second place, only nine points behind Team United Bakeries, and Pettersen remains in second place in the overall sprint points competition.

 

The Ski Classics now moves to Germany for the 45 k König Ludwiglauf next Sunday. After that, the long-distance series takes a month off before the Vasaloppet in Sweden on March 8, Birkebeinerrennet in Norway on March 21 and the Ski Classics Final, Årefjällsloppet on March 29.

Complete results and standings

 

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Svendsen Went to War

 

Madshus racer Emil Hegle “Super-Svendsen” (NOR) anchored Norway to victory again – the second time in a row – in the World Cup 4×7,5km in Anterselva, Italy, on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

 

Aggressive attitude secured first place to Norway and Madshus in the men’s 4×7.5km World Cup biathlon relay in Anterselva, Italy, on Sunday.

 

Emil Hegle Super-Svendsen anchored the team to another World Cup victory, and Norway is two for two in the relay. Last week, Svendsen also anchored the team to relay victory in Rupholding, Germany.

 

Svendsen didn’t miss a single target, despite at times challenging conditions, and skied like he had the Devil on his tails. He had seen rival Simon Schempp (GER) win enough lately.

 

“I decided to go out aggressively and go to war. He has won three times in a row now, and that’s enough. I decided to pay him no respect and just go for it. That turned out to be the ticket today,” Svendsen said with a huge grin.

 

“This was perfect after a week of so-so. It shows that we are back on a winning track,” he said.

 

Veteran Madshus racer and the most winning winter athlete to date, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, raced the first leg for Norway. Norway won the relay clocking in at 1:15:36.7, 16 seconds ahead of Germany in second place. France was third.

Complete results

 

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