Who are the favorites to win La Venosta Criterium, the third Ski Classics Season XIV event? Find out who are the strongest contenders, both on the men’s and women’s side.
La Venosta Criterium, a 36-kilometer race in Val Venosta, Italy, will take place tomorrow. This is the third race of the Ski Classics Pro Tour calendar Season XIV, and it will be a demanding mass start race at high altitude, reaching 1900 meters above sea level.
Who are the favorite Pro Tour skiers to win this race? Bad Gastein Criterium results give us some insights about what to expect for this weekend, as the race profile may suit the same skiers who performed well last week, except for the final uphill, which may be suitable for the skiers who perform better at climbing.
The Favorite Male Skiers For Winning La Venosta Criterium
Emil Persson, Lager 157 Ski Team, won last week’s Bad Gastein Criterium. And it is safe to say that he is the leading contender for victory at La Venosta Criterium. For the Swedish skier, this week’s race will not be expected to finish with a mass start sprint. Due to the last uphill, Emil believes the skiers will be stretched over the final kilometer.
“I think there will be a higher pace from start to finish. There will be smaller groups due to the altitude and the course,” says Emil during the press conference.
“Of course, I want to win. I want to hold the Yellow bib during Christmas.”
Morten Eide Pedersen, Team Eksjöhus, has been around the block for some time, and he has been a consistent top-10 skier, finished in the 6th place at the Bad Gastein Criterium, and has been on the podium of La Venosta before. Also, the finish at the tough uphill is good for Morten’s capabilities, who has constantly been fighting for the Climb bib.
“It’s always difficult to find a good move in high altitude. We may push too hard and too early in the race. It is a tough race, a tough course,” said Morten Eide Pederson during the press conference this week.
Amund Riege, Team Ramudden, has performed well at the last edition of La Venosta Open, a Ski Classics Challengers event, managing to finish on the podium. And he has performed well both at Bad Gastein and throughout the summer, so he is one of the favorite skiers. However, Amund believes this year’s edition will be much more competitive due to the level of the athletes at the starting line. From Livigno, Amund talked to the Ski Classics audience about his final preparations and goals for this race.
“First, the preparation includes recovering from the previous tough races in Bad Gastein. One day I had an easy session, yesterday (Tuesday), I did four hours of double-poling, and today (Wednesday) some intensity. I hope to get ready for Saturday,” says Amund.
“La Venosta is a tough course; it is a race where the toughest athletes will be out there. I feel like I am in good shape, so I hope to fight for a good position.”
Also speaking from Livigno, Nils Dahlsten, Lager 157 Ski Team, who finished in the 5th position at Bad Gastein Criterium, said he felt slightly surprised by his performance. But despite the surprise, the Swedish athlete felt the shape was good, and he hopes to be in good form again on Saturday.
“I hope my shape is as good as last weekend, and then we will see how far I can go. And I hope to have a strong team because it is always good to have as many guys as possible in the front,” Nils said during the press conference.
“The high altitude has suited me well, and I respond well to it. It is a tougher course than last weekend.”
Andreas Nygaard, Team Ragde Charge, stated last week that he still needs to be in his best shape. The Ski Classics reigning Champion said during the press conference that he had struggled with health issues over the last weeks, something that even made him decide not to start at Bad Gastein.
“I hope to be in my best shape for the longer races after Christmas,” said the Norwegian skier. For La Venosta Criterium, Nygaard may not be one of the favorite skiers for the victory. He is still recovering and finding his best shape and the race distance is not the kind where he usually performs at his top level.
There are other strong contenders for victory. Johan Hoel, Team Ragde Charge, impressed everyone finishing 2nd place at Bad Gastein Criterium; Alvar Myhlback, Lager 157 Ski Team, is the skier everyone is talking about, and the tough final climb may even suit Team Ramudden’s Johannes Eklöf characteristics. On Saturday, we will see who has the best shape and the best skis of the day.
The Favorite Female Skiers For Winning La Venosta Criterium
On the women’s side, Ida Dahl, Team Engcon, is the first choice for the top favorites. After winning Bad Gastein Pro Team Tempo and Bad Gastein Criterium, the Swedish Pro Tour skier shows that, just like last season, she is having a solid start to the season.
Last year, Ida performed very well at La Venosta Time Trial, and she is hoping to repeat and improve the race she did one year ago. And now that she is a new Ski Classics Legend, Ida may feel even more motivated to win.
Less than a week after her victory, Ida has been mostly taking it easy, recovering and refueling to restore her energy levels.
“I have felt quite tired Monday and Tuesday, but today (Wednesday), I started feeling better. Hopefully, I am getting back there,” Ida says.
The course will be more challenging, so she hopes to be back in shape rapidly:
“It is a very tough course, so I am really looking forward to it. I hope it fits me well. I think it is going to be very exciting.”
However, Ida Dahl will have a very tough weekend. With La Venosta on Saturday and Davos World Cup on Sunday, it may be challenging to handle both races back-to-back.
Another top contender on the women’s side is Emilie Fleten, Team Ramudden, who finished last week’s race at the 3rd place, despite not being in her best shape.
“I think the race was a little bit early after being sick. My body wasn’t 100% ready, so I have been resting the last few days,” says Emilie.
Still, her strong performance gave her motivation, and some insights about the shape Emilie can have for the rest of the season.
“I was more than happy with the 3rd place on Sunday, so I am really looking forward to the next races,” and continues:
“I haven’t felt great the last couple of days, but I will be more confident and maybe be able to set a higher pace instead of just trying to follow as I did on Sunday.”
And Emilie’s critical question is how to beat Ida and Astrid now that they are in such a strong phase of their careers.
“Ida was in a very good shape last Sunday, and I wasn’t at my best. If I manage to find my best form, I think I will be able to beat them.”
Another skier who impressed last week is the young Karolina Hedenström, Lager 157 Ski Team. The Swedish skier finished 9th at Bad Gastein Criterium and hopes to keep the good performance, enabling her to fight for the Pink Youth bib.
“This last summer, I started to live and train like an elite skier, and I have been finding my way about how I prefer to train and how I want to live my life as an athlete, so many pieces around training are now starting to feel more stable.”
However, Karolina does not know the characteristics of this course, while her main rivals are more experienced on the course.
“The high altitude makes it a bit more challenging than last week.”
The last female skier attending the press conference was Silje Øyre Slind, Team Aker Dæhlie, who finished last week’s race in the 7th position.
However, Silje feels that this classification disappointed her because she was aiming for a better position.
“When the speed went up, I was just not good enough,” said Silje.
This will be a season where the Norwegian skier will put her focus on Ski Classics, so she aims for top results.
“It’s good to have these races before Christmas, but I am looking forward to January when I hope to take the next step to the podium.”
About La Venosta, Silje Øyre Slind expects an even more challenging course, with a hillier terrain and more speed during the race.
And for sure, we cannot forget about Astrid Øyre Slind, Team Aker Dæhlie, who finished 2nd last weekend at Bad Gastein Criterium after racing the World Cup on Saturday, traveling to Austria on the same day, and having a convincing and robust performance on Sunday.
After a week of recovery and preparations, Astrid is one of the top favorites for La Venosta Criterium.
La Venosta Criterium will be a tough race. There is no obvious winner anymore, both on the men’s and women’s sides. There are a lot of strong contenders who can have a good day and shine at the end.
The Season XIV of Ski Classics Pro Tour consists of 14 events on 10 event weekends in 6 different countries.
Ski Classics Pro Tour Season XIV (2022/2023)
- Event 1: December 10, 2022 – Bad Gastein PTT, Bad Gastein, Austria, 15km
- Event 2: December 11, 2022 – Bad Gastein Criterium, Bad Gastein, Austria, 35km
- Event 3: December 17, 2022 – La Venosta Criterium, Val Venosta, Italy, 40km
- Event 4: January 14, 2023 – Pustertaler Ski Marathon, Sexten, Italy, 62km
- Event 5: January 15, 2023 – Prato Piazza Mountain Challenge, Niederdorf, Italy, 30km
- Event 6: January 21, 2023 – Engadin La Diagonela, Engadin Valley, Switzerland, 55km
- Event 7: January 29, 2023 – Marcialonga, Trentino, Italy, 70km
- Event 8: February 12, 2023 – Jizerská50, Bedrichov, Czech Republic, 50km
- Event 9: February 18, 2023 – Grönklitt Criterium, Orsa Grönklitt, Sweden, 50km
- Event 10: February 19, 2023 – Grönklitt ITT, Orsa Grönklitt, Sweden, 15km
- Event 11: March 5, 2023 – Vasaloppet, Sälen-Mora, Sweden, 90km
- Event 12: March 18, 2023 – Birkebeinerrennet, Rena-Lillehammer, Norway, 54km
- Event 13: April 1, 2023 – Reistadløpet, Setermoen-Bardufoss, Norway, 40km
- Event 14: April 2, 2023 – Summit 2 Senja, Bardufoss- Finnsnes, Norway, 67km
More info about the Ski Classics Pro Tour you can find at skiclassics.com.
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Top Photo: Reichert/NordicFocus