By Teemu Virtanen
The Norwegian outfit Team XPND is going to enter Visma Ski Classics’ anniversary season with guts and some girl power. The pro team has more women in their roster than men since there are now four ladies and three gentlemen in the squad.
Next winter is the second year for the team to be fighting in the long distance ski arena, and three of the women are quite fresh to the proceedings; Marie Renèe Sørum Gangsø, Oda Nerdrum and Elin Hagavold. However, Elin raced in Vasaloppet last season and finished 14th while Oda took part in both Reistadløpet and Birkebeinerrennet.
The three male athletes Erlend Widerøe Hennig, Thomas Ødegaarden and Kristoffer Nielsen were part of the team last season, and they are hoping to improve their performances when the Season X starts at the end of this year. The pro team is currently ranked as 24th in the pro team competition, and Kristoffer Nielsen was the best male skier with his 97th place in the Hertz Champion battle while Ingebor Dahl finished 32nd in the women’s competition.
“We are a team with a lot of guts and girl power and we want to strengthen the women’s side of the team,” Ingeborg, one of the few female team directors in Visma Ski Classics, says firmly. “Our first year was very exciting and educational, but also challenging. We encountered a lot of sickness and bad luck last season, which meant that the team didn’t fulfill their true potential. It’s time for us to fight back. So, we will call the upcoming winter our fight back season!”
Team XPND is ready to work hard to achieve their goals, which are very ambitious. They want to fight for the pink jersey in the female category, get some top 10 places, and give an opportunity to some local talented skiers to get a taste of Visma Ski Classics. They go by their motto “no guts – no glory”, and with that mentality we may see some splashes of excellence from the team when the 10th year of the greatest long distance skiing pro tour embraces us.