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.