By Teemu Virtanen
Jizerska 50, the 8th stage of the Pro Tour, is one of the biggest cross-country ski events in Central Europe and the third oldest race in Visma Ski Classics. It has its unique feel reminding many skiers of the sceneries in Scandinavian races combined with a European touch. It really brings you the best of both worlds.
Vetle Thyli, Team Kaffebryggeriet, says of the race on this week’s Livigno2Levi Podcast:
“It reminds me of Birkebeinerrennet in Norway. There’s a long climb at the beginning, and you when you reach the top, there’s a long downhill section. Then, there’s another long and demanding climb much like in Birken. It’s a tough course, and I’m lucky to have a true Jizerska specialist and three-time race winner in my team, Morten Eide Pedersen, and I have to ask him about how to perform well in the race. It’s always been a tricky one for me!”
The idea for the race came about when a team of mountain climbers decided to organize a race in the Jizera Mountains. The first race in 1968 had only 52 participants, but the event grew quickly, and in 1978 almost 7,000 skiers took part in Jizerska 50.
The event honors 15 Czechoslovak mountain climbers who participated in the race in 1970 and four months later met their doom in the mountains of Peru when an avalanche hit their expedition. Therefore, the first 15 bibs are dedicated to those fallen heroes.
The start and finish are both in Bedrichov, a mountain village with a unique atmosphere enhanced by local delicatessen and beer. The organizers want to emphasize the fact that Jizerska 50 is a true “folk-fest” where pro and recreational skiers are standing side by side ready to experience an unforgettable journey in the wilderness of the Jizera Mountains. Besides the global audience that Visma Ski Classics brings to the table, the race is followed by millions of Czech viewers, making it one of the most popular sport events in the country.
Jizerska 50 is an easy to event to reach as Prague is only a two-hour drive away and the 2009 FIS Nordic Ski World Championships host city Liberec is only about 10 km from the race area. Liberec is a great place to stay while participating in the race as there are many great Czech-style restaurants around the city and a lot of sights to see such as the City Zoo, the Botanical Garden, the Town Hall, the Liberec Castle, Ještěd Tower, which has become the symbol of the city, and Centrum Babylon, a unique congress and entertainment complex with a large water park, an amusement park, a casino, a shopping court and a hotel