It seemed crazy: the Norwegian Birkebeiner has almost 3,000 feet of total climbing. But double-poling is what Petter Eliassen trains for, so that’s what he did- and he became the first man to win the legendary marathon without kickwax. Therese Johaug picked up a five-minute victory in the women’s race.
The 2015 American Birkebeiner 51 k freestyle marathon on Saturday offered no shortage of excitement, as Italy’s Segio Bonaldi outsprinted three French skiers to win his second Birkie by half a second. American Holly Brooks used a hard push in the final kilometers to collect her second Birkie title as well.
When Holly Brooks traveled to Livigno, Italy, the former U.S. Ski Team member was focused on the La Sgambeda 42 k freestyle that marked the first FIS Marathon Cup race of the season. As fate would have it, however, Brooks exited the weekend as a member of a professional Norwegian team, Team Santander, alongside famed skier Anders Aukland, wax tech Magnar Dale, and manager Nils Marius Otterstad.
Dr. Paul Anderson and World Cup sprint champ Kikkan Randall chat with us about a new study of American Birkebeiner participants. Using 24,000 skiers who have competed in the Wisconsin marathon over the years, they hope to gain valuable insight into what gets people to exercise – and then apply it in a public health perspective.
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.