By Teemu Virtanen
Visma Ski Classics is still on a break, and the tour reconvenes on Saturday 6th when Reistadløpet takes place in Northern Norway. In the meantime, some of our pro skiers are getting anxious and they want to race against each other. They hunger for action!
Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet offers them a great chance for a friendly battle on the tracks, although it is not an easy undertaking being the longest ski race in the world. Tomorrow at 6 am CET, about 450 skiers embark on a 220 km journey in Northern Sweden and about 10-12 hours later the first skiers reach Jokkmokk and the finish of the race.
Andreas Nygaard, Team Ragde Eiendom, has won the race twice in a row, and his teammate Øyvind Moen Fjeld has been right behind him. Both of them are doing the race tomorrow and they will face the Birkebeinerrennet breakaway king Petter Eliassen, Team BN Bank. Both Nygaard and Eliassen are fighting for the Visma Ski Classics Champion title, but it seems that a 220 km challenge is not scaring them much even if there is only a week to recover before Reistadløpet.
I had a quick chat with the favorite of the race Mr. Nygaard in the eve of the race, and here’s what he thinks about the toughest ski race on earth.
Nordenskiöldsloppet is just before the last two VSC races and it is extremely long, but how would something like this fit into your schedule?
Nordenskioldsloppet is such a great event, and I would not miss it for the world. It has worked out pretty well in the past, so I don't think it will be a problem doing Reistadløpet next weekend.
You are now fighting for the number one spot in the Champion competition against Petter Eliassen – and you are now both doing the race. How will this race affect your chances to win the prestigious title?
Now since we both of us are racing tomorrow, it will be the same for him as for me. Hopefully it turns out to be a good thing for the latter part of the season.
How would you describe the race as you've done it twice - it is the longest one in the world? What are expecting from this year's event - the conditions seem to be much faster than last year?
220 km on skis is never easy. Especially when you are fighting against people like Petter Eliassen and Øyvind Moen Fjeld. Last year conditions were brutal, but luckily it looks like it is going to be fairly good weather and tracks on Saturday. So, I think it will be a much "easier" task this year.
Editor’s note: it has been extremely windy today and the weather forecast predicts gusty winds for tomorrow as well. There should be a headwind on the way to the turning point and then a tailwind to the finish.
Would you like to see Nordenskiöldsloppet or a similar race in Visma Ski Classics as well?
Yes. It should be the last race of the season. It would be awesome.
What's your advice for the rookies doing the race this year?
Take your time. Do not stress. Drink and eat along the way, and just get in the zone. The feeling you get when you cross the finish line is unique.