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Ski Classics: Top racing for everyone

Vasaloppet already has more than 60,000 skiers signed up for the 2017 winter festival. Photo: Vasaloppet
Each year, 15,800 racers embark on the 90 kilometer journey from Sälen to Mora. Photo: Vasaloppet

Each year, 15,800 racers embark on the 90 kilometer journey from Sälen to Mora. Photo: Vasaloppet

Ski Classics, the long-distance race series, represents a unique opportunity to race the same course as the elites, on the same day and compare efforts. But unlike the pros, most of us have to pick only one or a few of the marathons each year. Here is your guide to the 2018 Ski Classics marathon lineup.

La Sgambeda, Italy, December 2:
At 36 kilometers, La Sgambeda is the shortest of the Ski Classics event, in an amazing place and magnificent scenery, well worth a trip if you want to kick start your race season early. However, beware that the altitude makes the event quite challenging.

Kaiser Maximilian Lauf, Austria, January 13:
Seefeld is one of Europe’s best cross-country destinations, and this event is organized on the famous Seefeld courses. A healthy amount of climbing makes this 60-kilometer race challenging. Bonus: Seefeld is easy to access both from Munich (GER) and Innsbruck (AUT).

Kaiser Maximillian Lauf in Seefeld (AUT). Photo: Nordic Focus

Kaiser Maximillian Lauf in Seefeld (AUT). Photo: Nordic Focus

La Diagonela, Switzerland, January 20:
A spectacular event with amazing scenery in the valley of the famous Alpine destination St Moritz (SUI). Mostly easy terrain with some sustained climbs, which makes this 65-kilometer course medium hard overall.

Marcialonga, Italy, January 28:
One of the biggest classic events in the world and one for the bucket list! The 70-kilometer race Incredible atmosphere, well-run event on a great course with a legendary 3-kilometer monster climb to the finish in Cavaleze, in Val di Fiemme (ITA). Val di Fiemme has hosted several FIS World Championships and is home of the Italian Olympic cross-country hero Franco Nones, who in at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble (FRA) became the first non-Scandinavian and non-Russian skier to win an Olympic gold medal.

Marcialonga. Photo: Newspower.it

Marcialonga. Photo: Newspower.it

Toblach-Cortina, Italy, February 3:
Like the previous two Ski Classics events in Italy this season, Toblach-Cortina offers fantastic scenery. The 50-kilometer course is partly set on an old railroad track and features a healthy amount of elevation gain in the category “gradually climbing.”

Jizerska Padesatka, Czech Republic, February 18:
One of the original Ski Classics events, Jizerska Padesatka is a challenging event in the deep forest south east of Liberec in the Czech Republic. When the weather is good, racers are treated to magnificent views several places along the 50-kilometer course. But often it is not, and the race has earned the nickname “Hell of the north” adopted from the classic cycling event Paris-Roubaix: A challenging race that often takes place in challenging climatic conditions. But the trip from Prague to the race is a breeze.

The Czech marathon event Jizerska Padesatka 50km classic is set for Sunday, January 11, and is offering stellar conditions this season. Photo: Jizerska

The 50-kilometer marathon event Jizerska Padesatka takes place southeast of Liberec. Photo: Jizerska

Vasaloppet, Sweden, March 4:
Needs no further introduction: The original. Founded in 1923, Vasaloppet is the oldest, the biggest and the most prestigious of any classic cross-country race. Simply a tribute to skiing, celebrating the joy of skiing, right in the heart of Sweden. The Vasaloppet Winter Week attracts almost 70,000 skiers to the nine events: Kortvasan (30km), TjejVasan (30km, women only), Öppet Spår Sunday (90km), Öppet Spår Monday (90km), HalvVasan (45km), StafettVasan (5-leg relay, 90km total), NattVasan (90km skating, night race), UngdomsVasan (youth race 9km/19km), Blåbärsloppet (9km) and Barnens Vasalopp (children’s race) and of course, the original 90-kilometer Vasaloppet from Sälen to Mora.

John Kristian Dahl won Vasaloppet for the third time. Photo: Madshus

In 2017, John Kristian Dahl won Vasaloppet for the third time. Photo: Madshus

Birkerbeinnerrennet, Norway, March 17:
The legendary Norwegian ski race was established in 1933, and features one of the toughest courses on the Ski Classics race schedule. The spectacular and exposed 54-kilometer course is mostly above tree line and traverses two mountains between the start in Rena and the finish in Lillehammer, at the Birkebeiner stadium built for the 1994 Winter Olympics.

Reistadløpet, Sweden, April 7:
If you love challenges and/or skiing uphill, you will love Reistadlöpet. The 50-kilometer race, which debuted on the Ski Classics schedule for the 2017 season, features a course mostly above tree line, offering amazing views. The event is very professionally run, and easy to access by the nearby airport at Bardufoss.

Ylläs-Levi, Finland, April 14:
This 67-kilometer classic race features the some of the most scenic Finnish ski areas close to the northern Swedish border. Nice course with a nice combination of tough climbs and long double-pole sections in gentle terrain.

Now, the biggest challenge is: which one(s) to pick?

Birkebeinerrennet is one of the worlds most famous cross-country events. Come feel the atmosphere along the course. Photo: Birken AS

Birkebeinerrennet is one of the worlds most famous cross-country events. Come feel the atmosphere along the course. Photo: Birken AS

This is Ski Classics 2018

Vasaloppet already has more than 60,000 skiers signed up for the 2017 winter festival. Photo: Vasaloppet

The marathon race series just announced the event schedule for the upcoming season.

Vasaloppet already has more than 60,000 skiers signed up for the 2017 winter festival. Photo: Vasaloppet

Vasaloppet is one of the 11 events that make up the 2018 Ski Classics race schedule. Photo: Vasaloppet

Season 8 of the long-distance ski championship consists of 11 events from the end of November through mid-April. (See complete schedule below)

The 2018 Ski Classics season
There are several changes for the 2018 season, starting with a new format for the Pro Team Tempo, which is the opening show of the 11-event series. This year, the Pro Team women’s tempo will be run as a pursuit race following the Pro Team men’s team tempo.

The season can be divided into three distinct phases: The first consists of two events at altitude before Christmas. From January until mid-February, the racers embark on five events in Central Europe before the season caps off with the four-race Nordic Tour mini-cup consisting of Vasaloppet (SWE), Birkebeinerrennet (NOR), Reistadløpet (NOR) and Ylläs Levi (FIN).

Vasaloppet China in early January is out, as is Årefjällsloppet in Sweden, cutting the schedule from 13 to 11 events.

Strong Madshus Marathon team
This year, Madshus racer Stian Hoelgaard (NOR) won the youth competition for the second consecutive time and with a crushing margin. He is as motivated as ever for the upcoming season. Also, 3 Madshus women among top 5 in the Overall Ski Classics Champion competition: Astrid Øyre Slind (NOR) of Team United Bakeries was third, Sara Lindborg of Team Särneke was fourth and Emilia Lindstedt (SWE) of Team Ski ProAm was fifth.

Madshus racer John Kristian Dahl (NOR) won the 90km Vasaloppet in Sweden, the world’s largest and oldest classic ski race, for the third time.

Story continues below

Stian Hoelgaard was third in the 90km Vasaloppet 2017. Photo: Ski Classics

Stian Hoelgaard won the 2017 Ski Classic Youth Competition. Photo: Ski Classics

 

2018 Ski Classics Schedule
Event 1: 26th November, Prologue, Pontresina Switzerland 10 km
Event 2: 2nd December, La Sgambeda, Livigno Italy 35km
Event 3: 13th January, Kaiser Maximilian Lauf, Seefeld Austria 60km
Event 4: 20th January, La Diagonela, St Moritz Switzerland 65km
Event 5: 28st January, Marcialonga, Trentino Italy 70km
Event 6: 3rd February, Toblach-Cortina, Italy 50km
Event 7: 18th February, Jizerska Padesatka, Czech Republic 50km
Event 8: 4th March, Vasaloppet, Sweden 90km
Event 9: 17th March, Birkebeinerrennet, Norway 54km
Event 10: 7th April, Reistadløpet, Bardufoss Norway 50km
Event 11: 14th April, Ylläs-Levi, Finland 67km

 

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