This Norwegian Pro Team has been a pivotal part of Ski Classics ever since the tour’s infancy. The team has changed its name many times and has always been the Aukland brothers’ baby. Jørgen retired a while ago, but his older brother Anders shows no signs of quitting even if he turned 50 this past September.
Anders is still the backbone of the team, but he is not the one chasing podium places anymore. He can be in the top 10 in some races if he has a good day. The team’s biggest star is Andreas Nygaard, who has gotten three Champion titles in his career. He is the reigning King of Ski Classics and remains to be the greatest favorite this winter. He usually struggles a bit in the early season, but by the time the Grand Classics events take place, he is in shape and stays on top of the game until the end of the season.
Oskar Kardin is a solid podium skier who can certainly join Andreas in the fight for the Yellow bib. Last winter, he could not reach his usual level of greatness as he was out of the game in the middle of the season and got only one podium place during the whole season. In total, he has nine podium places, one of which is victory, La Diagonela, in 2021.
Kasper Stadaas rose to the occasion last season and won two races, La Diagonela and Årefjällsloppet. He finished fourth in the Champion competition but is hungry for more. His performance was somewhat uneven last season since some of the races did not go that well for him, and he finished a bit north of the top 20. He should not be counted out when figuring out possible Champion skiers.
Johan Hoel managed to be on the podium once last season, and that took place at Ylläs-Levi, 2nd. He also had five top-10 places and finished eighth in the Champion competition. He truly showed that he is a great addition to the team and will shoot for more podium places and victories this season. However, there are so many great skiers on this team that it would be a surprise if he became the leading athlete.
Karstein Johaug is also a powerful fighter who has four top-10 finishes in total, two of which are from Vasaloppet, 2021 and 2022. Naturally, his goal is to get the first podium in any of the races this season. If he ups the ante, he can have a season much like Stadaas had last winter.
Joar Thele remains a loyal support skier who keeps his eyes open for possible breakaway attempts and assists his team members as much as possible. His fifth place at Vasaloppet proves he can be more than just a helping hand. He is extremely tenacious and strong, and when the perfect day hits, he can finally be on the podium.
The two women on the team are very valuable players who can bring in Sprint and Champion points. Anikken Gjerde Alnæs finished seventh in the Champion competition and second in the Sprint one. She is one of the favorites in the latter category and a much-needed point collector for the team. She found herself in the top 10 eight times. The other lady is a comeback kid who took a yearlong hiatus but is now back with a vengeance. Jenny Larsson won La Diagonela in 2021, and if she returns to her former glory, she will fight for a podium place in every race.
This team has the strongest male roster in Ski Classics and wants to be the greatest Pro Team again. The women are also strong point chasers, which means this gang is very hard to beat. Their only weakness is the lack of Youth power, which may turn out to be a fatal disadvantage as the season progresses.
- Country: Norway
- Pro Team Director: Magnar Dalen/Jørgen Aukland
- Pro Team Ranking: 3
|Athlete||Country||Gender||Date of Birth||SC Ranking|
|Anikken Gjerde Alnæs||NOR||W||11.04.1994||#47|