By Teemu Virtanen
Team Koteng, the pro team that managed to get a triple victory in Vasaloppet, has fortified their ranks by getting three new recruitments. Andrew Musgrave, 29, from the UK is racing with the team’s yellow suit, and he is a familiar face in the World Cup circuit and at the World Championships in Seefeld where he managed to be in the top 10 in three events; 50 km freestyle 8th, 15 classic 8th and skiathlon 7th.
In addition to Musgrave, Team Koteng is giving a chance for two young athletes, Erik Valnes and Tiril Udnes Weng, to try their wings on the hardest long distance course in the pro tour. Both of these skiers are 22 years old and they have performed really well in the youth and adult competitions this winter.
Valnes won the sprint competition at the U23 World Championships in Lahti in January, and this weekend he finished 7th in the 50 km National Championships in Norway. Weng also participated in the Junior World Championships earlier this season and finished 2nd in the sprint competition and 3rd in the 10 km freestyle race. She has also performed well in some of the World Cup sprint competitions and in Falun she was 20th in the 10 km freestyle World Cup race.
Team Koteng’s Chris Andre Jespersen was 2nd in the last year’s Reistadløpet, and he is among the male favorites this year as well. In the women’s race, last year’s winner Masako Ishida and Astird Øyre Slind, 3rd in 2018, are also strong candidates for the podium this Saturday.