By André Santos
Spain is not the place that comes to our mind when we think about pro athletes competing in long distance ski races. However, Sadurni Betriu Boix from the new Italian Team Sottozero – Maxi Zorzi is about to change that.
“I am 37 years old and I have been training cross-country skiing all my life.” This is how Sadurni Betriu Boix starts the interview, showing me how he is devoted to the sport. He is based in Organya, a small town located in the heart of the Pyranees just 20 minutes from Andorra where the training conditions are great. “Our skiing season starts in November and sometimes goes until the middle of April and we have a lot of snow," says Sadurni.
Any skier who has participated in Marxa Beret, a race that Sadurni has won in the last two years, knows that the thin air of the Pyranees and the cross-country ski tracks located at around 2000 meters above sea level present an additional challenge to the effort that going for long strides demands. “Sometimes we see Scandinavians struggling to get some air while we are already used to breathing at this altitude. Moreover, we have a lot of steep uphills on the tracks where we can push ourselves,” says Sadurni, showing the characteristic pride that Catalans possess when they talk about their land. Maybe this is the reason why so many athletes that come from these mountains score really high Vo2max figures.
Sadurni spent ten years competing in the Spanish National Team, but his professional life made him step back from the team, and he decided to devote himself only to the long distance races.
“I have participated in a lot of Visma Ski Classics events, having managed to get a 120th position at Vasaloppet and a 87th at Marcialonga," states Sadurni who is able to race at a very high level and train around 20 hours every week, despite having his family and his own business to run. But, as he says: “I get up every morning really early, so I can train as much as possible".
Sadurni is very happy and proud to be the first Spanish pro athlete competing in the Visma Ski Classics Pro Tour, and he tells me that he is looking forward to helping his team fight for a good position in their first season ever. “My teammate Mauro Brigadoi is one of my heroes. He is really a strong athlete, and I look forward to standing at the start line with him. Also, Lukas Bauer has always been an idol of mine.”
Sadurni will not be present in every Visma Ski Classics race, but we can enjoy his company at La Sgambeda and Marcialonga where we look forward to watching him among the great names of long distance skiing.