It’s final. Holly Brooks is tackling the FIS Marathon Cup/Worldloppet series this season, with seven of nine races on her schedule and a goal of an overall top three. “I’m ready for new challenges,” she says. “I’m a competitor and I want to be in races where I’m in contention for a podium.” As the Birkie’s first elite-athlete representative, she’s hoping that will simplify some of the international logistics.
Almost all of the participants in the Birkebeiner, one of the largest ski marathons in the world, had reached the start in Rena on Saturday when race organizers were forced to cancel the race due to wind gusts that reached 50 miles per hour in the mountains. Since then, the decision has caused nothing but grief as many in Norway are fiercely critical of the cancellation.
The 46th annual Engadin Ski Marathon took place this past Sunday. Though the 42-kilometer skate course follows a valley downhill, losing a total of 150 meters (nearly 500 feet), that fact alone did not guarantee an easy race — on the contrary, most top finishers claimed this marathon to be one of their toughest.
I might be a nobody who struggled my way through Sweden’s 90 k Vasaloppet with next to no preparation, but I also saw what it takes to win the Vasa: through the generosity of a friend, I accidentally embedded myself with Team Robin Bryntesson. Here’s the next installment of our first-person staff accounts of famous races.
This past weekend, nearly the entirety of the adult population of Midwestern skiers made their way to Hayward for the annual get-together of the ski community: The Birkie. The American Birkebeiner (or Birkie, for short), is the biggest ski race in North America. For many skiers, the race represents their culmination of training for the whole year. Read a first-timer’s perspective on the race, the trail, and Birkie Fever.
Late in the race as the pace accelerated, Tom Reichelt took the lead as the course began to open up in the wide fields approaching Lake Hayward. Behind him were Bonaldi and Paredi, hanging on and looking for an opportunity to make a move in the final two agonizing kilometers across the lake. “I was waiting for the others to catch me,” he said, “but nobody did. I thought in the sprint I had no chance.”
Doug DeBold edged his former CXC teammate Santi Ocariz by the slimmest of margins last Saturday in the 42 k SISU Marathon in Ironwood, Mich. And he couldn’t have done it without the pole Ocariz lent him a minute before the start. Another former CXC skier, Audrey Weber was the women’s runner-up in her second SISU Marathon.
Seraina Boner, a former Swiss national team skier, has transformed herself into the best long-distance skier in the world. Whether training with Team Coop in Norway or jumping in with Dario Cologna in Davos, she’s working towards a Vasaloppet victory – the one big thing that’s missing from her resume.
Swix Sport USA and the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation came out with some big news for their respective organizations on Tuesday, announcing that Swix signed on as title sponsor for the Birkie’s ski events for two years. Swix Sport USA President and CEO Steve Poulin talks about the significance of the partnership and how it will contribute to Birkie Fever.
For the first time in 15 years, the Worldloppet Annual General Meeting returned to where it was essentially born in northern Wisconsin. There, an estimated 45 delegates from 16 nations met to invite four more countries to the party, with Argentina, China, Iceland and New Zealand being granted associate status and their own Worldloppet marathons.
Andrea Dupont was called up by Canada to race in the sprint at World Championships, and offered a World Cup start the weekend before. But it seemed silly, she thought, to go to Europe for just a few days – and so she managed to gain a start spot in Sweden’s famed Vasaloppet, where she double-poled her way to 11th place.
The classic races of World Championships took place in Val di Fiemme: interval start, relay, marathon. Biathletes competed in Oslo, Americans held their own in Slavic Cup action, and Swedes (and everyone else) gave it their all in the Vasaloppet. Summaries of the action, along with links to reporting and results.
Weekly Race Roundup: Golden Americans, Historic Bronze for Harvey and NoCo, Another Birkie in the Books
Marit Bjørgen of Norway and Nikita Kriukov of Russia both have two gold medals to their names so far this Championships, and Dario Cologna finally got the title he’s been search for; but Americans made a splash too, in every discipline, with Sarah Hendrickson winning jumping, Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins the team sprint, and the nordic combined team bronze in the team event. Alex Harvey also made history when he took bronze in the classic sprint, the first individual World Champs medal for Canada.