LIVIGNO, Italy (Dec. 14) — Two-time Olympian Carl Swenson (Boulder, CO) finished fourth Sunday in the 42K La Sgambeda ski marathon. Roberto De Zolt of Italy won in 1:31.13.9, a half-minute ahead of Austrian Mikhail Botvinov. Swenson — the lone U.S. Ski Team racer in the non-World Cup race – was fourth in the field of 1,300 in 1:32.16.8. Lara Peyrot of Italy won the women's race (1:44.41.4). Swenson also raced a World Cup 15K on Saturday, the day before La Sgambeda.
Prior to the race, all eyes were on Botvinov and the American Carl Swenson. Apparently many were not aware that Swenson would be entering until the last minute. A priceless quote appeared in a press release from the race organizers.
“Late on this afternoonÂ the worry about the many athletes to fear grew with the the information that the american Carl Swenson has entered the race, who arrived in fifth place in the 50kms Worlds at Val di Fiemme.”
Livigno, press release 14th December 2003:
DE ZOLT AND PEYROT DOMINATE LA SGAMBEDA 2003
The first stage of the FIS Marathon Cup saw the clean domination of the Italian National squad members Roberto De Zolt and by Lara Peyrot who have won the first 100 points in the world â€˜granfondo’ stage.
A very spectacular race thanks to the exceptional presence of a group of cross country skiersÂ just like in the World Cup, and behind them 1300 racers!Â Â Â Â Â
They were amongst the favorites and it went as forecast. The Italians Roberto De Zolt and Lara Peyrot powerfully conquered La Sgambeda, the first trial of the FIS Marathon Cup which hadÂ numerous elite cross country skiers at the start with the 1300 entrants, for 42 kms of free style which was a great success.
After the traditional start on a flat area in Livigno, the Italian national squad went to the head to maintain a crusing speed with the intention to study their adversaries, but at the 7th Km the Austrian Roland Diethard and Mikhail Botvinov made a break for it, together with the frenchman Stephan Passeron and the Finn Mika Myllylae, with the intention to setting the pace, with a clear objective to sort themselves out before the climb of Gras degli Agnelli. About 10kms Mikhail Botvinov went to the head of the group alternating with the Italian Maurizio Pozzi and at 15kms the group was made up of a dozen cross country skiers, amongst whom were the â€˜finanziere’ Roberto De Zolt who was waiting for the Alpe Vago climb, at the foot of the Forcola Pass, to launch the decisive attack.Â The racer from Belluno broke away at the top of the Baitel climb, exactly at 22kms and at the bottom of the descent was 10 odd seconds in front of Botvinov and Pozzi. On his shoulders was the following group headed by the American Carl Swenson and Ivan Margaroli, followed by the transalpino Passeron and by Silvio Fauner, this last one who had leg cramps. The second part of the competition, thanks also to a pair of fast skis, saw the lone break away of Roberto De Zolt, amazingly fit after a good race in the World Cup last week, while following in his tracks Botvinov left Pozzi behind. At the finish a shout of joy for De Zolt, (final time of 1.21’14â€) who kissed the air, in memory of Giorgia, his daughter who sadly passed away a few months ago, before being crowned with a laurel leaf crown by the Livigno Mayor Lello Silvestri. On the second and third steps of the podium were Botvinov andÂ PozziÂ who were behind at justÂ 30â€ e 45â€, but who were also congratulated with De Zolt for their excellent efforts.
The female race started with the French Annick Vaxelaire in first place with the Swiss Natascia Leonardi Cortesi and the Swede, already the winner of 3 Vasaloppets, Sofia Lind, but after the first few kms the Piemontese Lara Peyrot starter to come up from 6th place (on about the 7th km)Â to take charge of the race by half way, with an advantage of almost 1 minute on the Swedish Sofia Lind who in the last few kms broke away from the French Annick Vaxelaire, who is in her last racing year before giving up the sport. Lara Peyrot closed with a final time of 1:44’41â€ withÂ 2’53â€ on the Swedish Lind andÂ 3’09â€ on the French Vaxelaire.
The race day closed with the prize presentation for the athletes and with theÂ handing out of the total prize list of 21.000 Euro given to the first 10 athletes placed: men and women: the ceremony was held in the presence of the FIS technical delegate, the Englishman Paddy Field, who expressed great satisfaction for the Livignasc event and hope for the future of the FIS Marathon Cup. Finally , joy for the head of the long distance cross country ski team, Marco Selle who will be taking the two Italians to the second stage of FIS Marathon Cup, the JizerskÃ¡ PadesÃ¡tka in the Czech Repubblic on 11th January, with the red number bibs of the leader of the Cup series.Â At this point the Italians are the ones to beat! (cb)
Interviews Press Conference After Race La Sgambeda 2003
1st ROBERTO DE ZOLT – 1:31.13,9
I knew that after the World Cup in Dobbiamo that I was going ok, but also the others were going well, I must say that the last climb, the decisive climb, was the hardest, I tried to get away and I saw that no one was following me. I thought about trying my hardest, but I knew that it was still a long way and that there were a lot of kms to the finish, but my skis were fast and infact I was right. At a certain point I had to think about what to do, I was about to wait for the others then I thought, no I won’t risk the sprint. I did the right thing! My determination paid off.Â A parallel with a MTB race and a cross country ski race? I cannot really do that, here I was 100% preparedÂ and I have done all my preparation for the winter season. The Pedaleda in July (MTB race) was a trial in advance for today, also in the pedaleda I tried my hardest and it was a great race, but a hard one.
2nd MIKHAIL BOTVINOV — AUSTRIA – 1:31.44,2
It’s first race at the start of the marathon season, now I have time over Christmas to recoever, eat and stay with the family and friends. I haven’t still decided to carry on with the World Cup season or to continue with the FIS Marathon Cup.
I have already won la Sgambeda in 1996, however the route was a surprise, I did not expect it to be so hard.
6thÂ SILVIO FAUNER — ITALY – 1:33.28,1
Talking about the route I knew it already, but the climb that they have added after the Alpe VagoÂ is decidedly hard. For the race I would say that I am quite satisfied considering that I have just had a bout of the flu last week….. starting to race at 1800 mts is not the best way to recover. La Sgambeda has taken on another form. I was always at the leading group up to the climb where in reality I did not suffer from fatigue but rather I had cramp in my right leg. I preferred to slow down for a while, also because I couldÂ not stay with the group and thus I got together with another following group and I finished the race with them
1st LARA PEYROT — ITALY – 1:44.41,4
I am satisfied because I was racing with the red leaders bib for the FIS Marathon Cup 2003 and in the next race I am still wearing the red bib. My intention is continue the winter in this way, certainly the winter is long. However we have more time to recover, even if it is harder to keep fit. I will try to keep going: Last year in the Engadina valley it was very hard and I knew that I had finished my energy resorces. But I will try!
2nd LIND SOFIA — SWEDEN – 1:47.34,4
I have won 3 editions of the Vasaloppet. I prefer to race in the classic technique. This was my first race, different from the usual ones, I did not know what to expect in the race,Â I took a bit of time to warm up but then I realised I could do it and I gained energy passing the finish. I have not decided whether or not to continue to race the entire Fis Marathon Cup series, we’ll see. It is the first time that I have raced in Italy.
3th VAXELAIRE ANNIK — FRANCE – 1:47.50,3
It was a hard start but I hoped to get better further on into the race. I thinkÂ Livigno is very pretty but I had problems from the altitude, especially in the Forcola climb, but it went all ok. I hope to race in all of the FIS Marathon Cup races, but I am still not sure. This will be my last year, then I think I will give up racing.
PAOLA PEZZO — ITALY – 2:02.35,3
2 times Olympic gold medal winner MTB.
I enjoyed it a great deal, I was in good form. I found it hard coming back with the wind against me, but thankfully I found a group to join. The 2004 Olympics? I will continue to cross country race until January, taking part in the â€˜granfondo’, but then I will swop my skis for the MTB to train seriously.
INTERVIEW TO FIS DELEGATE
PADDY FIELD — FIS MARATHON CUP delegate
I am very satisfied with the first trial of the FIS Marathon Cup: it was a success and I think that you can see this not only from the number of entrants and the general public, but also by the names of the athletes who were taking part in la Sgambeda today. I think that the entire organisation has been excellent.
Livigno has for 14 years been organising la Sgambeda and certainly the experience gained from this has matured the organisation and has lead to the success of today. It’s my hope that it continue in this way. It is an excellent area, we were kissed by the sun and I had positive feed back from the athletes themselves.
I am a fan of â€˜granfondo’ and for the future I hope to be able to support races â€œsuper well organizedâ€ like la Sgambeda, that are part of the top marathon cross country races world. I hope that this could be the start of a possibleÂ joint venture with the organising committee, we will talk more about that later to see if we can repeat this year’s experience.