One of Italy’s most famous holiday locations Livigno hosted the first weekend of Visma Ski Classics activities this season and what a weekend it was. On Friday, the Pro Team Prologue took place and as always it proved to be a perfect platform for lesser-known teams to have their day in the sun. Saturday was devoted to a special Media Day where each team had a chance to introduce themselves to the world. On Sunday, pro skiers fought against each other in the Individual Prologue race, which was full of action from the beginning.
The Pro Team Prologue presented a few surprises as both Team Kaffebryggeriet and Team ParkettPartner rocked the house by their great performances. The former was the fastest male pro team while the latter finished fourth in the overall results. The coffee boys didn’t have a female skier in the women’s pursuit race disqualifying them in the final results. But these young guys sent up a warning shot letting everyone know that there is more to come. That being said, it seems that this season could really become the year of the fresh faces in Visma Ski Classics.
Another big surprise, or a shock to the pro team itself, was Team Ragde Eiendom’s poor performance on both days. In the Pro Team Prologue, the last year’s champion Tord Asle Gjerdalen suffered from the effects of high altitude and couldn’t keep up with his teammates. The pro team eventually finished fifth due to Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes good performance in the women’s pursuit, but it certainly was a grand disappointment to this gang of champions. On Sunday, Andreas Nygaard was the best skier of the bunch by finishing 7th, but the race was a struggle for him since the beginning.
The greatest bolt out of the blue was the return of Mr. Sausage (Pølsa), Øystein Pettersen, who won the individual race on Sunday. He admitted that the victory was sweeter than anything he has ever achieved in his life including his Olympic Gold Medal in 2010. His Team BN Bank was superior to everyone else as they took home the four best positions in the race.
Speaking of comebacks, we witnessed another amazing one as Petter Eliassen finished fourth right behind his teammates Pettersen, Morten Eide Pedersen and Simen Östensen, respectively. It safe to say that The King is back and he will be very hard to beat in the upcoming races, and he now has his team to support him in his breakaways. Team BN Bank could be the strongest team this season, but unfortunately they don’t have a competitive female skier in their ranks.
On the women’s side, Lager 157 Ski Team’s Britta Johansson Norgren dominated the field as she won every single competition, except the youth category since she is not eligible for that. However, Astrid Öyre Slind, Team Koteng, fought tooth and nail and was not far behind her dear opponent. She was very disappointed at her finish and she promised to go back home and work on her sprinting abilities.
However, she was confident that the upcoming Kaiser Maximilian Lauf could be the place where she can beat Britta as the course fits her perfectly. Justyna Kowalczyk, Team Trentino Robinson Trainer, finished third with a smile on her face since it was her best double-poling result in four years. She was a bit unsure about the future as she is busy working as a coach in the Polish National Team, but she will race in Seefeld for sure.
There were some new names in the other competitions as Olof Jonsson, Team Ramudden, and Stian Berg, Team Kaffebryggeriet managed to take second and fourth places in the sprint, respectively, and Ermil Vokuev, Russian Marathon Team, took the lead in the climb competition. The same applies to the youth competition as Emil Persson, Lager 157 Ski Team, and Jenny Larson, Team Ramudden, are new faces in the this particular category.