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Won by more than three hours

Emilia Lindstedt - Nordenskiöldsloppet 2018 - Photo Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet 680x
Emilia Lindstedt (SWE) won the 2018 Nordenskiöldsloppet by more than three hours. Photo: Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet

Emilia Lindstedt (SWE) won the 2018 Nordenskiöldsloppet by more than three hours. Photo: Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet

Meet Emilia Lindstedt: the new queen of long-distance racing

“This is both my best and worst experience. I have never been so tired in my life,” the 27-year-old after finishing the 220 kilometer Nordenskiöldsloppet.

Lindstedt, who has been racing the Ski Classics for two years, polished off the rugged classic race from Purkjaur to Jokkmokk in Northern Sweden in 14 hours and one minute. She was more than three hours ahead the next female racer and only a good half hour behind the overall winner (Andreas Nygaard, who finished in 13:25).

The victory was more than the rookie had dared to hope for stepping up to the starting line on Saturday, March 24. With a dusting of fresh snow in the tracks and challenging, slow conditions, it didn’t look like a course record-breaking day in the world’s longest ski marathon.

“This was the first time I raced Nordenskiöldsloppet. I expected it to be a huge challenge both physically and mentally. I hoped to find the flow, and avoid any big problems. I was really nervous and curious about how my body would respond, and how it would feel, given that Vasaloppet was the longest race I had done so far, and Vasaloppet is only 90 kilometers. Of course, I always race to win and I always aim to ski as fast as I can,” she says.

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Emilia Lindstedt (second) during the 2018 Nordenskiöldsloppet. Photo: Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet

Emilia Lindstedt (second) during the 2018 Nordenskiöldsloppet. Photo: Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet

When did you realize the victory was within reach?
“It’s hard to say exactly when I knew I could win, but as early as after 30 kilometer I realized I was the only girl in the lead group. While so much can happen in a long race like this, at the halfway point where the course loops back, I saw that I had a huge gap to the next female racer. I still felt really strong, and I started believing I might just nail the victory. The last 20 kilometers I could let up a little bit, and I was able to really enjoy the race.”

This race is more than twice as long as the Vasaloppet. What does it take to handle such a distance?
“To go this far, it’s important to be mentally prepared for the task, have a positive attitude and be able to motivate yourself during the race. And of course it’s important to stay fueled along the way. I had a really great support team. My younger brother and my boyfriend followed me all the way on a snow mobile. They gave me sports drink every 20 to 30 minutes and something to eat every hour. And I had amazing skis. They kept their glide the entire distance and that is incredibly important in a race like this.”

What will you do next season?
“The next season is still a bit up in the air. The last two seasons I’ve focused on the Ski Classics series, but prior to this season, my team folded, so this season has been quite different than I first expected. I really hope I can find a way to keep racing next season as well.”

Double podium at Vasaloppet

Astrid Øyre Slind after finishing Vasaloppet 2018, in 2nd place. Photo: Stefano Zatta
Astrid Øyre Slind after finishing Vasaloppet 2018, in 2nd place. Photo: Stefano Zatta

Astrid Øyre Slind finished Vasaloppet 2018 in 2nd place. Photo: Stefano Zatta

Astrid Øyre Slind (NOR) and Stian Hoelgaard were second and third, respectively, at the tough 90-kilometer classic race from Sälen to Mora.

With cold, draggy snow after a long period of frigid temperatures and snow falling through most of the race, conditions were brutal for the more than 15,000 racers in the 94th edition of Vasaloppet.

For Slind, who is in her third season on the Ski Classics marathon series, this year’s second place is her second time on the podium at Vasaloppet and her second time in second place. In 2016, she was fifth. Slind, who chose to ski the race with kick wax, lead at times by more than half a minute. However, in Hökberg, with less than 20 kilometers to go, she was passed. Slind also took home four of the seven preems in the race.

In the men’s race, Madshus racer Stian Hoelgaard (NOR) earned his third consecutive Vasaloppet podium. He finished third, three seconds behind the winner. Jörgen Brink (SWE) was fourth, one second from the podium. The three-time Vasaloppet champion has been among the top four racers seven times. Brink beat fellow Madshus skier Øystein Pettersen (NOR), who was fifth but was given the same finishing time.

Madshus racers snagged five of the top seven spots in the men’s race and two of the top five spots in the women’s race, where Sara Lindborg (SWE) was fifth.

Stian Hoelgaard was 3rd in Vasaloppet 2018. Photo: Stefano Zatta

Stian Hoelgaard was 3rd in Vasaloppet 2018. Photo: Stefano Zatta

Vasaloppet piece by piece

Vasaloppet. Photo: Ulf Palm
John Kristian Dahl (NOR) has won Vasaloppet three times, here from 2017. Photo: Vasaloppet/Nisse Schmid

John Kristian Dahl (NOR) has won Vasaloppet three times, here from 2017. Photo: Vasaloppet/Nisse Schmid

The 90-kilometer classic race is just around the corner. Check out the best advice!

For starters, 90 kilometers is a long way. Dividing the course into sections is a good strategy, both to stay mentally sharp and focused, and because the different sections have different characteristics.

“I don’t think about Vasaloppet as 90 kilometers. Some racers like to divide the course into three, but I like to split it in half: two times 45. From the start I count down to the midpoint, and then from there to the finish,” says Ole Christian Nymoen, a Vasaloppet veteran with several top 100-finishes.

The first half: Stay calm
While the elite racers are eager to fight for the best positions out of the start gate, spending a lot of energy on the first kilometers is rarely beneficial to the rest of us.

“Relax and settle into the train you end up in,” Nymoen says.

“If you get stuck behind a lot of racers for a few minutes early in the race, you can easily make up that with interest on the last 20 kilometers if you don’t waste your energy early. On the other hand, if you can get away with a fast train in the first hill after the start, go for it. That can also be a good strategy, but the point is to not waste your energy early in the race,” he says, suggesting to stay with a group and take turns pulling the train.

“Find some good strong racers to stay with, and rotate pulling the group across the easy flat terrain that follows the first hills from the start.”

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Do not waste your energy at the start of the race. Photo: Vasaloppet/Ulf Palm

Do not waste your energy at the start of the race. You will have plenty of opportunities to pass people later in the race. Photo: Vasaloppet/Ulf Palm

Re-wax if you have to
Although the elite generally skip the kick wax and double-pole the whole race, most people will ski with kick wax.

Read more about how to prep for Vasaloppet here

If you notice early that you have grossly missed the wax, you should take the time to re-wax.

“If you don’t have enough kick early in the race, you won’t have kick later either. It typically gets warmer and more slippery as the day progresses. Don’t waste your energy on rotten grip early in the day,” Nymoen says.

“The two minutes you spend on stopping to re-wax might be the best two minutes you spend that day.”

The last half: A cruise to the finish or a true nightmare – you choose
After the 45-kilometer mark, you are halfway through and the hardest terrain is behind you. However, the traps are still many.

“Make sure you get to the 45-kilometer mark with a good feeling. From here you can really start counting down and if you have been diligent about food and hydration you have all kinds of opportunities now. This is where you will be rewarded for a conservative start. You will pass lots of racers who burned too much energy in the first half of the race or didn’t fuel well early in the race, and that’s always a boost mentally, Nymoen says.

At the same time, the seasoned marathon racer warns against being too eager.

“You are halfway through and the terrain is easier, but you still have 45 kilometers to go. Given that you’ve already skied 45 kilometers, it may not feel any easier at all. Don’t forget to stay with a good schedule for food and hydration for the last half of the race,” Nymoen says.

The competition starts after 70 kilometers
Regardless of how you choose to divide the course, the last 20 kilometers will determine everything, whether you are racing for the podium or fighting to finish in style.

“The last 20 kilometers separate Vasaloppet from all other marathon races. At this point, you’ve skied the entire distance of the Marcialonga, and you still have 90 minutes to go. From the course profile, this is the flattest and easiest section, but it can feel really, really rough,” Nymoen says, explaining that the mental dimension can be a determining factor.

“Most racers finish Vasaloppet entirely on mental will power. But if you are suffering, remember that everyone else around you is just as cooked or even worse,” says Nymoen, who has mustered extra energy for the finish just by ignoring the pain on the final stretch.

“When you see the church in Mora and you hear the spectators in the park, it feels so good no matter how bad it just was. The finish is worth the pain. That is the Vasaloppet difference.”

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There is no better feeling than finishing in style. Photo: Vasaloppet/Ulf Palm

There is no better feeling than finishing in style. Photo: Vasaloppet/Ulf Palm

VASALOPPET 2018
More than 62,000 skiers participate in one of the Vasaloppet week 2018 events:
February 23: KortVasan (30km)
February 24: TjejVasan (30km)
February 25: UngdomsVasan (9-19km)
February 25: Öppet Spår Sunday (90km)
February 26: Öppet Spår Monday (90km)
February 27: HalvVasan (45km)
March 2: StafettVasan (relay – 90km)
March 2:NattVasan (90km, 2-person teams, freestyle)
March 3: Blåbärsloppet (9km)
March 4: Vasaloppet (90km)

Vasaloppet isn’t a matter of VO2max

Stian Hoelgaard at the finish after Vasaloppet 2017. Photo: Ski Classics
Stian Hoelgaard at the finish after Vasaloppet 2017. Photo: Ski Classics

Stian Hoelgaard (NOR) shares his best Vasaloppet advice. Photo: Ski Classics

Get the inside tips on how to prepare for the 90km classic race from Sälen to Mora.

“There are two things that make or break Vasaloppet, and it’s not your endurance or your VO2max. It’s your ability to work manage pain and fatigue and staying mentally focused,” says Stian Hoelgaard (NOR), who was on the Vasaloppet podium both in 2016 and 2017.

His top advice is to find small partial goals along the way and make sure you stay fueled and hydrated the whole time.

“Find something to look forward to along the way, and take advantage of the feed stations. It’s fun to arrive there, and always lots of people cheering,” he says.

In addition to the race supported aid stations, the pro teams have feed stations every five kilometers, and you should too.

“Most people will run out of fuel in Vasaloppet, but make sure it doesn’t happen before the finish line. That means feeding frequently and start taking feeds early,” Hoelgaard says.

The short rule is that you cant skimp on fueling for the first 80 kilometers, but if you feel great when you get to the last feed station and your battling for positions, you can consider passing it. But be aware that you can go from fine to fatal in a couple of minutes at this point in the race.

Equally important as food, make sure you have good skis that fit your weight, technique and skill level.

“Your performance and experience is totally dependent on good skis. If you are using kick wax, its worth it to stop and adjust the wax if conditions change,” Hoelgaard says.

The pro teams generally use double-pole specific skis designed for max speed and propulsion without kick wax, but Vasaloppet was won on kick wax as late as 2012. And have you considered the new Redline Intelligrip skin skis?

Check out the selection here

Stay tuned for more advice on how to attack the course, kilometer by kilometer.

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

 

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