By Leandro Lutz
Unfortunately the Visma Ski Classics Toblach - Cortina 2019 had to be canceled due to extreme weather conditions, but other long distance races were held throughout Europe and Asia over the weekend, such as König Ludwig Lauf in Germany, Boras Skimarathon in Sweden, Sapporo SM in Japan and Marxa Beret in Spain.
One of the most traditional long distance events in Spain, Marxa Beret, already in its fortieth edition, took place on 2nd and 3rd of February in Val d'Aran, in the Pyrenees of Catalonia. This edition had three distances of 42km, 21km and 10km, all in classic style and with almost 1000 participants. The champions of the main event were Sadurni Betriu Boix, skiing 42km in 02:09:49 and Marta Cester Farre, completing the course in 02:38:52.
And for those who do not know the Iberian Nordic Ski scene, we talked with the Brazilian athlete who lived and trained in Spain, Mirlene Picin - Mika. She told us about the cross-country skiing on Spanish soil, the best tracks, the value of the sports market and much more.
Hello Mika, it is a pleasure to know a little more about Nordic Skiing in Spain, but first, tell us more about yourself, your sport history and how it began?
“My name is Mirlene Picin, 38 years old, born in Mogi Mirim, Brazil. I graduated in advertising and marketing, I have worked with graphic design and communication since 2002, and last year I graduated from Physical Education College. I started playing football first, then I wanted to inline skate, which took me to the cross-country skiing and biathlon. After that came running and finally trail running.”
Are Nordic sports widespread in Spain? What do you think is missing for more people to practice the sport?
“Nordic sports are not so popular in Spain compared to its neighbors France and Italy or other countries in Central Europe. I think that some factors contribute to this lack of interest of the Spanish public and some of them are as follows;
- The snow, arrives increasingly later in Spain, and is more and more scarce. This year is being an exception.
- Spanish people do not have many athletes in Nordic skiing that serve as reference and inspiration for the young, and naturally this leads to lack of sport media coverage and development of young skiers. Something that was done in the past, but in the last two decades it has been ignored a little, and at this moment there is a movement of reaction.
- But the most important factor, in my opinion, is that the Spanish people have Latin roots. The culture is much bigger in summer than in winter, because in essence and the great majority (not everyone) of Spanish people like the beaches more than the mountains, except in the regions that are closer to the Pyrenees."
How is the Nordic ski market in Spain?
“Small but with a slight rise in recent years. There are more people interested in endurance sports such as running, triathlon and trail running, and cross-country skiing seems a good option for cross training and a variation of sports during the winter. There are almost no specialized stores in the area, with Bones Sport Lab in Jaca, one of the few that has total focus on cross-country skiing both in winter and summer.”
Does Spain have many Nordic ski courses? What are the best places to ski?
“There are not as many tracks as in other countries, mainly because of this climate change issue and with increasingly scarce winters. But there are good centers such as Candanchu in Jaca, Somport on the same mountain, only on the French side, where the military biathlon and mountain skiing teams are concentrated and a good part of the Spanish team's cross country athletes. There are 13 stations listed in total, but the best known are in Catalonia and Aragon, with some highlights being Tuixent, Linza, Lanos de Hospital and Larra Belagua.”
The Spaniards are known for their love of the mountains and in the summer for their athletes and trail running races. Besides the trails, is it possible to train roller-skiing in Spain? What are the best places?
“Spain is the mecca of trail running in the world. Spanish people are passionate about this sport, and they are the current ITRA trail running champions, and Spain is the nation of Kilian Jornet and Luis Alberto Hernandez. As for roller-ski training, there is no specific track, but it is possible to have quality workouts in several "ports" in the mountain range, and there are quiet roads used by cyclists, which with caution, can be used for roller-skiing in small villages. Also, Palma de Mallorca is a famous summer training camp destination for Nordic skiers from various countries.”
In the last four years, we have been able to see a rise in roller-ski practice and one of those responsible for this rise is the Spanish brand Bones Ski Roll, whose vision is to make roller-skis more accessible to the general public and foster the development of the sport both in summer and in winter.
That's it folks, now you know a little more about the Nordic skiing opportunities in Spain. Check them out and you will be amazed by the experience!