By Teemu Virtanen
This Sunday’s Marcialonga is once again a real treat for all long distance ski enthusiasts and Visma Ski Classics fans. The 70 km course is certainly captivating and engaging as the participants of the race can literally feel the tangible atmosphere and almost touch the cheering people who stand along the course from Moena to Cavalese.
Last winter, Petter Eliassen, Team Ragde Eiendom, won the men’s race superiorly, and Britta Johansson Norgren, Lager 157 Ski Team, was as outstanding as Petter when she took home her third race victory. Both of these athletes didn’t have their best day at La Diagonela last weekend, but they are prepared to defend their victories this Sunday.
Petter and Britta will face a fierce battle from other Pro Team Athletes, particularly Team Koteng’s Chris Andre Jespersen and Astrid Øyre Slind respectively, who were in a league of their own in Switzerland. Marcialonga has attracted some fresh faces to join the action as well; Dario Cologna from Switzerland, Sjur Røthe from Norway, Alexander Legov, Eugeniy Dementiev & Nikita Kryukov from Russia and Petter Northug from Norway. These skiers want to experience the magic of Marcialonga and try their wings in long distance skiing.
Cologna won Engadin Skimarathon last year, one of the Pro Tour stages, and he has participated in Vasaloppet in the past. He represents Team Coop at Marcialonga. Røthe, Legov and Kryukov are debuting in Visma Ski Classics while Northug has done Marcialonga once before. Legov, Kryukov and Northug have retired from active racing, but they have stayed in good shape. All of these skiers have won several medals at the World Championships and at the Olympics (Røthe has no Olympic medals).