By Teemu Virtanen
This Sunday, January 27, Marcialonga, the most popular long distance ski race in Italy and one of most legendary ski events in the world, is going to take place with 7,500 skiers. This event is also the fifth installment in the Visma Ski Classics pro tour and the third in Visma Alp Trophy.
Since its inception in 1971, the event has grown and the total number of participants is getting close to a quarter million. And there is no end in sight for this magical event, which has a 70-kilometer course going through the valleys of Val di Fiemme and Val di Fassa.
The preparations for this year’s event have been somewhat challenging due to the severe storm in the fall that destroyed some parts of the track. Now, those sections have been fixed, and the organizers are ready for Sunday.
“We faced a challenge, but we overcame it,” Davide Stoffie, General Secretary, says acting relieved. “We don’t have any major changes or new things to announce, but everything is in place for the race, and the weather seems to be on our side with cold temperatures during the week. So, the tracks should be in excellent shape by Sunday.”
Many of us often wonder what makes this event so extraordinary and one of a kind, and according to Davide Stoffie the answer is simple.
“It is the community. The passion that we all have for this particular event, and this togetherness creates an atmosphere that is truly unique. Marcialonga has become quite mythical over the years, something that you need to do at least once in your lifetime. And we shouldn’t forget the famous final climb, the Cascata Hill. That is our trademark!”
When selecting favorites for the race, Team Radge Eiendom’s podium athletes in La Diagonela Andreas Nygaard, Mr. Marcialonga Tord Asle Gjerdalen (three wins) and Oskar Kardin, respectively, are the names that are high on everyone’s list. Last year’s winner Ilya Chernousov, ED System Bauer Team, is certainly a strong candidate for the victory as well, but it is expected that Team BN Bank skiers, who dominated in the first two races, will be back with a vengeance. And there is always room for surprises as we all recall Tore Bjørseth Berdal’s, Team Koteng, great performance, 2nd, last year.
In the women’s race, Katerina Smutná, ED System Bauer Team, proved that she is back in the game by winning La Diagonela. Britta Johansson Norgen, Lager 157 Ski Team, and Astrid Øyre Slind, Team Koteng, did not have their best day last Saturday, but they will be back with a hunger for success come Sunday.
What is Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes, Team Radge Eiendom, going to do? She performed extremely well in Switzerland, and her second place in La Diagonela showed us that there is power in her engine for greater things.
Marcialonga starts at 7:50 am CET when the pro women take off followed by the pro men and the rest of the participants (wave start) at 8:00 am CET.