By Teemu Virtanen
Visma Ski Classics is on a break until mid-January when Kaiser Maximilian Lauf, 60 km, takes place in the upcoming World Championship town Seefeld, Austria. The world’s greatest long distance tour may be basking in the holiday spirit, but the cross-country skiing hoopla never ceases. There are FIS World Cup races, Scandinavian Cup events and local ski races everywhere in Europe where athletes can test their current shape and prepare for the long season ahead of us.
This weekend, two Team Koteng skiers performed really well as Astrid Øyre Slind won the 10 km free technique Scandinavian Cup race in Östersund, Sweden, while Chris Andre Jespersen finished 5th in the 15 km skating World Cup race in Davos, Switzerland. Jespersen was only about 10 seconds behind the winner Jevgeni Belov from Russia. Øyre Slind beat the second best skier, Linn Sömskar from Sweden, by 18 seconds.
Jespersen is naturally trying to qualify for the World Championships in Seefeld this season, and it remains to be seen how many Visma Ski Classics races he manages to do. Øyre Slind, on the other hand, is putting her sole focus on the prestigious long distance skiing tour, and it seems that her skating is in great shape. She may be really hard to beat in Engadin Skimarathon in Switzerland on the second weekend of March.
In early December, the Visma Ski Classics season started in Livigno, Italy, with two prologues, and the action continues in January with five consecutive weekends of events starting with the aforementioned Kaiser Maximilian Lauf and ending with Jizerska 50 in the Czech Republic in early February. The Visma Alp Trophy tour will also start in Seefeld and end with Toblach-Cortina a week before the Czech race. After the January madness, the 32 registered pro teams and their athletes can take a breather and focus on training for three weeks before the legendary Vasaloppet in Sweden.