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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.

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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

 

Solid Ski Classics Season

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

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

Stian Hoelgaard dominated the Youth Competition, 3 Madshus women among top 5 in the Overall Ski Classics Champion competition.

Hoelgaard (NOR), who won the Youth Competition for the second year in a row, earned 1269 points – almost twice as many points as the next racer. This marks the second year in a row that Hoelgaard wins the Youth competition. He was also fourth in the Overall Ski Classics Champion competition.

“I have had a great season, and I really liked skiing so many races. I made four podium finishes, and had amazing skis and was able to peak just at the right times,” Hoelgaard says. Now, the 26-year-old is hungry for more.

“I still haven’t won a Ski Classics event, so I’m already top motivated for the next season and I am looking forward to start the dryland training and the preparations for next winter, where I hope to nail my first victory.”

A season recap will be broadcasted on Monday, April 17, starting at 8:30am Central European Time. 52-minute broadcast will feature highlights from the 2016-17 Ski Classics season.
More information

Strong women
For the women, Madshus captured three of the top five 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.

Slind was also third in the brand new Nordic Trophy competition, which rewards the top three men and women over the last five events in the Ski Classics. All of these five events take place in the Nordic countries (Vasaloppet and Årefjällsloppet in Sweden, Birkebeinerrennet and Reistadløpet in Norway and the Ski Classics finale Ylläs-Levi in Finland).

Astrid Øyre Slind at the Birkebeinerrennet, where she was fourth after fighting for the podium to the bitter end. Photo: Inge Scheve

Astrid Øyre Slind (NOR) at the Birkebeinerrennet, where she was 4th after fighting for the podium to the end. Photo: Inge Scheve

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

Redline Redefines the Race

 

Stian Hoelgaard, who has been on the podium consistently for years and currently leads the overall Ski Classics youth competition, has one ultimate career goal: to win Vasaloppet.

“Vasaloppet is the hairiest race on the schedule. It’s the biggest ski race in the world. It’s 90 kilometers and everyone starts on the same starting line. It’s special, and I want to win it,” says the 25-year-old, who is in his fifth marathon season.

Last year, Hoelgaard missed his goal by 0.5 seconds to Madshus teammate John Kristian Dahl.

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Stian Hoelgaard at Kaiser Maximilian Lauf in Austria on January 14. Photo: Madshus

Stian Hoelgaard at Kaiser Maximilian Lauf in Austria on January 14. Photo: Madshus

At Madshus, we work hard to put every margin on your side. Our Redline products know no compromises. Our product developers save no effort, material or engineering to build the most advanced equipment on the market.

The Redline Propulsion is a classic double-pole ski developed with the best and most accomplished long-distance racers in the world over the past years: built specifically for double-poling: with a flex and camber style developed to facilitate fast acceleration in uphill and flat terrain, a brand new 3D geometry that improves the pressure distribution throughout the entire ski, optimized pressure distribution for high speed stability on long descents and a low tip that reduces the swing weight of the ski and preserves energy.

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Madshus Propulsion - Foto Stefano Zatta:Madshus 680x

Madshus Propulsion. Photo: Stefano Zatta/Madshus

The Redline skis and boots also continue to push the limits on the World Cup. On January 8, Heidi Weng parked her competitors on her way up the monster hill on the final stage of the 2017 Tour de Ski. She won the overall tour and had the fastest time for the brutal stage.

“This is a huge victory for me, and winning the Tour de Ski is the hardest thing I have done. But it seems like the monster hill was I wanted to sprint from the bottom of the hill,” Heidi Weng said after her impressive performance up the alpine run in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

08.01.2017, Val di Fiemme, Italy (ITA): Heidi Weng (NOR) - FIS world cup cross-country, tour de ski, final climb women, Val di Fiemme (ITA). www.nordicfocus.com. © Modica/NordicFocus. Every downloaded picture is fee-liable.

Heidi Weng (NOR) won the 2017 Tour de Ski. She parked her competitors and had the fastest time up the final climb on Alpe Cermis in Val di Fiemme (ITA). Photo: Nordic Focus

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