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Aiming for a New Double

John Kristian Dahl (NOR) won the Birkebeiner less than two weeks after winning Vasaloppet. Photo: Inge Scheve
John Kristian Dahl (NOR) won the Birkebeiner less than two weeks after winning Vasaloppet. Photo: Inge Scheve

John Kristian Dahl (NOR) won the 2016 Norwegian Birkebeiner, less than two weeks after winning the 90-kilometer Vasaloppet in Sweden. Photo: Inge Scheve

Defending Birkebeiner champion John Kristian Dahl (NOR) will double-pole the classic race on Saturday.

Hoping to repeat his double victory from last year when he won both the 90km Vasaloppet and the 54km Birkebeinerrennet back to back, the 35-year-old will take on two mountains without kick wax.

“I’m dreaming of a repeat of last year’s double win, although I think it will be harder to pull off this time, given the back injuries I have battled this season,” says Dahl.

“After Vasaloppet on March 5, I’ve had to cut back and go easier than I planned due to the back injury. But you never know, cutting back might be the perfect move to release peak performance on race day,” he says.

Just days before the Vasaloppet a week and a half ago, Dahl was in such pain that he feared he had to skip the 90-kilometer race in Sweden. But on race morning, he decided to give the race a shot, and made his move only 4 kilometers from the finish, winning by a fraction of a second. Read more: Dahl Defends Vasaloppet Title

Dahl defends Vasaloppet title

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

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

John Kristian Dahl won the legendary 90-kilometer classic race from Sälen to Mora for the third time, defending his victory from last year.

In addition to winning Vasaloppet last year, Dahl also won the race in 2014, his first season as a marathon skier.

Despite injuring his back in preparation for the Vasaloppet on Thursday, Dahl fought his way to the front of the pack with 4 kilometers to the finish, and won the sprint finish by a tenth of a second and a few centimeters, clocking in at 3:57:18.1. On Thursday, the 35-year-old was in such pain that he wrote off the Vasaloppet this year.

“This is amazing, a miracle. Two days ago, I couldn’t ski at all, but I thought that I would try to start the race. My back got better in the race, but my arms were totally depleted at the finish. And given that I felt cooked already at the start, it feels like a miracle that I am standing here,” Dahl said at the finish line, his voice trembling.

“I was tired already after 30km and had to let go of the lead group. But I fought my way back, taking it step-by-step and hill-by-hill,” Dahl said to reporters after the race.

Madshus marathon racer Stian Hoelgaard was third, only 0.6 seconds behind Dahl. With 903 points in the overall Ski Classics youth competition, Hoelgaard now has a substantial lead to Oscar Persson, who is second with 394 points. Hoelgaard is also third in the overall Ski Classics champion competition only 12 points behind second place.

Among the women, Madshus marathon racers Astrid Øyre Slind (NOR) of Team United Bakeries was second, and Sara Lindborg (SWE) was third. They finished in 4:21:21.3 and 4:28:47.6, respectively.

Top 3 men
1. John Kristian Dahl, Team United Bakeries. 3:57:18.1
2. Andreas Nygaard, Santander, 3:57:18.2
3. Stian Hoelgaard, Team Leaseplan, 3:57:18.7

Top 3 women
1. Britta Johansson, Norgren, Lager 157, 4:19:43.4
2. Astrid Øyre Slind, Team United Bakeries, 4:21:21-3
3. Sara Lindborg, Sernäke, 4:28:47.6

New final to Ski Classics

Ylläs-Levi 60km premiers on April 8, 2017, and will be the final event in the 2016-17 Ski Classics. Photo: www.yllaslevi.com
Ylläs-Levi 60km premiers on April 8, 2017, and will be the final event in the 2016-17 Ski Classics. Photo: www.yllaslevi.com

Ylläs-Levi 60km premiers on April 8, 2017, and will be the final event in the 2016-17 Ski Classics. Photo: www.yllaslevi.com

The long-distance series ends in Finland for the next three years.

The all-new 60-kilometer classic event Ylläs-Levi premiers on April 8, 2017, and will be the Ski Classics final through 2019.

The Ski Classics is unique in that the race series offers regular recreational skiers and citizen racers an opportunity to start on the same starting line and race the same course on the same day as the elite, such as Madshus marathon team racer John Kristian Dahl (NOR) who won both Vasaloppet and the Birkebeiner back to back – and compare their efforts with best in the world.

The Ylläs-Levi ski event has been around for several years as an unofficial gathering of skiers, but it was made official only last year when a small group of cross-country ski enthusiasts decided to organize a race between Finland’s two most renowned ski resorts.

The start is in the middle of Ylläs Ski Resort by the downhill slopes and ski through scenic landscapes over fells and through Lapland’s wilderness where local reindeer herds can easily be spotted. The race finish is in the center of the idyllic winter wonderland village Levi.

The Ylläs-Levi race in Finland is one of three new events on the 2016-17 Ski Classics schedule. Additionally, the 50km Vasaloppet China on January 4 is on the schedule for the first time this year, as well as the 50km Reistadløpet in Norway on April 1.

Ski Classics VII (2016/2017):
Event 1: 27th November, Prologue Pontresina Switzerland 10 km
Event 2: 3rd December, La Sgambeda Livigno Italy 35km
Event 3: 4th January, Changchun Vasaloppet China 50km
Event 4: 14th January, Kaiser Maximilian Lauf Seefeld Austria 60km
Event 5: 21st January, La Diagonela St Moritz Switzerland 65km
Event 6: 29th January, Marcialonga Trentino Italy 70km
Event 7: 11th February, Toblach-Cortina Italy 50km
Event 8: 19th February, Jizerska Padesatka Czech Republic 50km
Event 9: 5th March, Vasaloppet Sweden 90km
Event 10: 18th March, Birkebeinerrennet Norway 54km
Event 11: 26th March, Årefjällsloppet Sweden 65 km
Event 12: 1st April, Reistadløpet Bardufoss Norway 50km
Event 13: 8th April, Ylläs-Levi Finland 60km

John Kristian Dahl (NOR) won the Birkebeiner less than two weeks after winning Vasaloppet. Photo: Inge Scheve

John Kristian Dahl (NOR) won the Birkebeiner less than two weeks after winning Vasaloppet. Photo: Inge Scheve

Building a Base

John Kristian Dahl wins Vasaloppet with a 1-second margin in a 29-man bunch sprint. Photo: Ulf Palm/Vasaloppet
John Kristian Dahl (NOR) won Vasaloppet on March 6, then he won the Birkebeinerrennet on March 21, and is one of only 2 racers to win both in the same season. Photo: Ulf Palm

John Kristian Dahl (NOR) won Vasaloppet on March 6, then he won the Birkebeinerrennet on March 21, and is one of only 2 racers to win both in the same season. Photo: Ulf Palm

Maximize your training effort on roller skis.

Vasaloppet and Birkebeiner champion John Kristian Dahl (NOR) shares his training advice on how to get the most out of the time invested, whether your main focus is marathons, sprints or World Cup distance skiing.

Dahl, who won both the Vasaloppet and the Birkebeiner this season, was on the Norwegian national sprint team for years before he switched to marathons with Team United Bakeries three years ago. Dahl explains that the differences in the roller ski workouts for marathon racers and sprint specialists are less than you might expect. The basic training principles are the same regardless of distance.

“Harder workouts are more efficient, no matter what distance you are preparing for, so there are really not much difference in the training,” says the 35-year-old, who won Vasaloppet in his first season on the marathon circuit back in 2014.

The biggest difference between marathon and sprint training is what you do with the roller ski workouts. What you do will be determined by both ambition level and race/distance target, Dahl explains.

“The number of workouts and the number of hours depends to a large extent on how much time you can invest in training, and what your main focus is. But some of your workouts should be in the neighborhood of your estimated race time,” Dahl says.

For most ambitious skiers, about half of their overall training volume will be on roller skis. For the marathon racers, most of that volume is double-poling, both during distance-workouts and intervals.

“We do workouts that last four to five hours and sometimes even more, but its important to build up to this kind of volume gradually,” Dahl says.

“We didn’t jump into these kinds of workouts before we had a solid foundation of both specific strength and endurance. It’s very easy to get overuse injuries. Start by introducing more and more double-poling as you get stronger.”

 

What a Wrap

Johan Kjølstad (NOR) won Årefjällsloppet (SWE), the season finale for the 2016 Ski Classics. Photo: Ski Classics
Johan Kjølstad (NOR) won Årefjällsloppet (SWE), the season finale for the 2016 Ski Classics. Photo: Ski Classics

Johan Kjølstad (NOR) won Årefjällsloppet (SWE), the season finale for the 2016 Ski Classics. Photo: Ski Classics

A world record and double Madshus podiums in the Ski Classics finale and at the Norwegian national championships cap off another marvelous season.

Johan Kjølstad (NOR) and John Kristian Dahl (NOR) were first and second respectively at the 65km Årefjällsloppet in Sweden on Saturday, which was the final event in the 2016 Ski Classics long-distance series.

The efforts in the Swedish mountains this weekend lands Dahl in third place in the overall Ski Classics, Johan Kjølstad in fourth overall and their team United Bakeries in second place overall after all nine events are completed.

Also, Emilia Lindstedt (SWE) won the Youth bib in the Ski Classics, while Stian Hoelgaard won the men’s youth bib competition. But while Lindstedt earned her overall title by hundreds of points, Hoelgaard clinched his title by the skin of his teeth. He was 41 points ahead of Anders Høst (NOR) at prior to the final. Høst was 15th at Årefjällsloppet and Hoelgaard 26th, but at the end of the day, Hoelgaard was able to clinch the bib he has had dibs on throughout the season.

Complete results and standings 2016 Ski Classics 

Also this weekend, Heidi Weng and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg were on the podium both in the 5km freestyle event on Friday April 1, as well as in the 30km freestyle on Saturday. OnFriday, Østberg was second and Weng was third, on Saturday the roles were reversed.

The Weng-Østberg duo has dominated the podiums both at the FIS World Cup, the World Cup tours and in the national championships this season, further strengthening their position at the top international level. On Thursday, Weng helped her club mate to second place in the team sprint, which was the opening event at the national championships in Beitostølen.

Complete results for the Norwegian National Championships 

Additionally, Swedish amateur skier Erik Wickström opened the weekend with a new world record: He double-poled 438.5km in 24 hours, the longest distance ever recorded for this 24-hour challenge. The world record attempt started at 7:20am on Thursday, March 31, and ended at 7:20am on Friday, April 1. It took place in Vålådalen, where Wickström completed 1,064.5 laps on a 412-meter loop.

The 33-year-old father of two beat the previous record by more than 5km and will be in the next edition of the Guinnes Book of Records.

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