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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

Still time to sign up for Vasaloppet

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

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

 

More than 60,000 skiers are signed up for the 2017 Vasaloppet winter festival – are you?

Last year the Vasaloppet winter week had 68,024 participants between the nine different events: Kortvasan 30km, TjejVasan 30km (women only), Ungdomsvasan 3km/5km/7km/9km, Öppet Spår 90km (Sunday and Monday), Halvvasan 45km, Stafettvasan 90km (relay) and Vasaloppet 90km.

This year, Vasaloppet winter week has added two events: Nattvasan 90km skate night race on Friday March 3, and Blåbärsloppet 9km on March 4. With the exception of Nattvasan, which is a 2-person team race, and the original Vasaloppet 90km race, all events are still open for more skiers. The 2017 winter festival opens with the 30-kilometer Kortvasan on February 24 and concludes with the 90-kilometer Vasaloppet on Sunday, March 5. Which one will you try?

About Vasaloppet
The legendary Vasaloppet, a 90-kilometer marathon ski race from the village of Sälen to Mora in Sweden, was first run in 1922. The annual event is held on the first Sunday in March, and is the oldest, longest and biggest cross-country ski race in the world (in terms of participants).

The course record for the 90-kilometer event is 3 hours, 38 minutes and 41 seconds (2:26 per kilometer), and belongs to Madshus marathon racer Jörgen Brink of Sweden (2012). Brink is also the only athlete who has managed to win the Vasaloppet three consecutive years (2010, 2011 and 2012).

Every year, almost 70,000 skiers participate in Vasaloppets vintervecka, the weeklong ski festival consisting of 10 cross-country ski events with the original Vasaloppet as the final race. Nattvasan was added for the 2017 lineup, and all the 1500 entries for the skate event filled up shortly after the new event was announced last spring. As usual, all the 15,800 entries for the original 90-kilometer Vasaloppet were taken within minutes when the online registration opened.

Madshus is the official ski and boot supplier partner with Vasaloppet.

In addition to the partnership with Vasaloppet, Madshus is already the exclusive equipment supplier of the Norwegian Birkebeiner cross-country ski marathon.

From the Vasaloppet course this week. Photo: Vasaloppet

From the Vasaloppet course this week. Photo: Vasaloppet

This is Ski Classics 2017

John Kristian Dahl (NOR) won Vasaloppet 2014. Photo: Madshus
John Kristian Dahl won Vasaloppet 2014 - in his first season on the marathon circuit. Photo: Madshus

John Kristian Dahl won Vasaloppet both in 2014 – in his first season on the marathon circuit – and again this year. Photo: Madshus

The long-distance series adds five new events to the race schedule for 2017.

The 2016/2017 Ski Classics race schedule includes new events in Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Finland and China. The marathon series now consist of the world´s 13 most prestigious cross-country ski events.

The race series, which enters its seventh season, is unique both in that the 28 Pro Teams and more than 50.000 amateurs toe the same start line, and in that male and female skiers compete together for the same distances.

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 55km

About the individual events
The 2017 Ski Classics season kicks off with an individual prologue in Pontresina, Switzerland, on November 27th. The individual prologue is a new initiative since last year´s tour that started with a Pro Team Tempo prologue.

The following weekend, on Saturday December 3rd, the 35km La Sgambeda in Livigno, Italy, takes place as in past seasons. Also new this season is also that the above-mentioned Team Prologue will give both Pro Team points and Individual points.

The first two events are both at altitude, around 2000 meters, which makes them extra challenging.

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

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

The 50km Vasaloppet China in Changchun, China, which takes place on January 4th, is the third event on the race schedule. This is the first time the Ski Classics leaves Europe. Changchun is an industrial megacity in northern China, the event is held in the national park famous for the amazing snow sculptures built around the event finish.

After China the Tour returns to Europe for Kaiser Maximilian Lauf in Seefeld, Austria. The event was part of last year´s calendar as a late replacement for a cancelled event. This year, the event will have a complete new course over 60km with start and finish in the picturesque city of Seefeld.

“For Seefeld, the Kaiser Maximilian Lauf is a step into the Nordic future and an opportunity to show that we are the best cross-country destination in the Alps. In the Ski Classics, we have an experienced partner on our side for the organization of long distance races,” says Markus Daschil Viceman of the tourist board and Nordic group coordinator in Seefeld.

He adds that Seefeld will host the FIS Nordic World Championship 2019 we will also in Seefeld.

From Seefeld, the Ski Classics continues with well-known events in the following order of: La Diagonela, Marcialonga, Toblach-Cortina, Jizerska Padesatka, Vasaloppet, Birkebeinerrennet and Årefjällsloppet.

However, the Czech event Jizerska 50 moves to mid-February in order to get better snow conditions.

This year, Årefjällsloppet, Sweden, will take place on Sunday 26th of March, but it will not be the Ski Classics finale, as the race series has added two more races at the end of the season.

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Oh so close: Tore Bjoerseth Berdal was one tenth of a second from first place in the Ski Classics event Koenig Ludwig Lauf 2015. Photo: Ski Classics

Oh so close: Tore Bjoerseth Berdal was one tenth of a second from first place in the Ski Classics event Koenig Ludwig Lauf 2015. Photo: Ski Classics

The new event Reistadløpet takes place on April 1st in the stunning mountainous fjord landscapes of northern Norway. The event features a 50km course with start in Setermoen and finish in Bardufoss. Reistadløpet has been organized for more than 50 years in the memory of the Norwegian legendary military Ole Reistad. The area surrounding the race is also home to one of the most important military bases in Norway, and the area is also famous for the professional UCI World Tour cycling race Arctic Race of Norway.

“This is exactly what we need to bring our event in northern Norway to the next level. We believe race taking place north of the Arctic Circle on guaranteed natural snow and one of the toughest courses in the Ski Classics will bring a lot of attraction to the event, especially for those of us who like the old, traditional type of cross-country skiing, says Jørn Erik Berntsen, CEO Reistadløpet.

Finally, the Ski Classics moves to Finland for the last new event in the race series: Ylläs-Levi in Lappland. This will be the Ski Classics finale, and features a 55km course with finish on the main street of Finland´s biggest alpine resort Levi. The Ylläs-Levi area offers 550 km well-prepared tracks and a snow guarantee seven months per year. The Kittilä airport makes it easy to travel to Levi, and the area has more than 45 000 hotel beds and wide range of services. Levi Events, the LOC party, has a lot of experience of hosting international events such as Alpine World Cup Levi.

“We are extremely proud to be a part of the Ski Classics family, and believe that having a final event at Ylläs-Levi area will help us to reach our future goals in becoming the largest cross-country tourist area in the northern Europe,” says Janne Pelkonen, CEO at Levi Events.

It’s a wrap!

Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) and Heidi Weng at the FIS world cup relay in Nove Mesto (CZE). Photo: Nordic Focus
Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) and Heidi Weng at the FIS world cup relay in Nove Mesto (CZE). Photo: Nordic Focus

Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) and Heidi Weng at the FIS world cup relay in Nove Mesto (CZE). Photo: Nordic Focus

The elite skiers have already started the 2017 training season, making this a great time to look back at the 2016 achievements. And what a season it was for the Madshus racers!

Taking a look at some of the major highlights from the season, there is a lot to celebrate in the 2015-16 season. Just take a look at a random week in February: Dominating four sports 

The king of Biathlon, Ole Einar Bjørndalen, opened the IBU World Cup season with a podium at the first possible opportunity, in Östersund (SWE) the first week of December. But he reigned the grounds at the 2016 Holmenkollen World Championships, earning no less than four medals on home turf: gold in the relay, silver in the sprint and the pursuit and bronze in the mass start. At 42 years old. He now has over 40 World Championship medals, and he is not retiring any time soon, said the father to be, who is expecting a daughter in October.

Read more: The King Continues 

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Ole Einar Bjørndalen (NOR) won four medals during the 2016 IBU World Championships on home turf in Oslo. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ole Einar Bjørndalen (NOR) won four medals during the 2016 IBU World Championships on home turf in Oslo. Photo: Nordic Focus

Also at the 2016 Holmenkollen World Championships, Marte Olsbu (NOR) stepped up and earned her first World Championship medal as she anchored Norway to gold in the women’s 4x6km relay.

“This is the biggest I have ever experienced. I can’t believe it’s true,” Olsbu said after the relay.

Anaïs Bescond (FRA) took home two silver medals from Holmenkollen: the 15km normal competition and the relay.

Read the full recap of the Madshus podium party at the 2016 World Championships in Holmenkollen 

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Marte Olsbu anchored Norway to gold in the relay. Photo: Nordic Focus

Marte Olsbu anchored Norway to gold in the relay. Photo: Nordic Focus

In the Ski Classics, Madshus Marathon racer John Kristian Dahl (NOR) won both the 90-kilometer Vasaloppet in Sweden on March 6, and the 54-kilometer Birkebeinerrennet in Norway on March 19. In doing so, he made history: He was the first Norwegian and only the second racer to ever do so in the 93-year-long legacy of the Vasaloppet. The last to win both races back to back in the same season was Sven-Åke Lundbäck back in 1981.

Read more: Nailing the Double 

Two weeks later, Dahl was second in Årefjällsloppet on April 2, which was the Ski Classic Final. The Dahl capped the long-distance season with winning the world’s longest cross-country race: The 200-kilometer Nordenskiöldsloppet in Sweden, the longest ski marathon in the world, in 8 hours 35 minutes and 17 seconds.

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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

Also, Madshus Marathon racers Stian Hoelgaard (NOR) and Emilia Lindstedt (SWE) won the Ski Classic Youth bibs, awarded to the best racers age 26 and under.

Even in a year without any major championships for the FIS cross-country and Nordic Combined, Madshus racers, still brought home an impressive number of podium finishes. The highlights were many and bright, but Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) and Heidi Weng (NOR) really dominated the FIS World Cup this season. The duo brought in podium finishes and victories both in the Tour de Ski in January and the brand new Ski Tour Canada as well as the regular World Cup schedule, in sprints as well as distance races.

Read more: Tour de Podium 

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Heidi Weng (left) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg after the final stage of Ski Tour Canada. Photo: Nordic Focus 

Heidi Weng (left) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg after the final stage of Ski Tour Canada. Photo: Nordic Focus

In Nordic Combined, World Cup rookie Jarl Riiber (NOR) showed no respect for the established elite. He cleaned up the hardware at the 2015 FIS Junior World Championships in Kazakhstan taking home two individual gold medals and bronze in the team competition, and became a permanent member of the Norwegian World Cup team for the 2015-16 season. The 18-year-old stepped up to the challenge. He opened the season by winning the Norwegian national championships in November, and delivered podium finishes on the World Cup throughout the season.

 

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