Universally acknowledged as one of the most popular cross-country ski race in the world, the Italian Marcialonga is ready to kick off this Sunday, the 31st of January, in the Trentino region of Italy.
The 37th annual “Queen” of the Italian ski-marathons is a 70km race through the Fiemme and Fassa valleys which starts in Moena and finishes in Cavalese. The Italian Marcialonga is part of both the prestigious Worldloppet circuit and the FIS Marathon Cup (since 2000).
150,000 cubic meters of man-made snow have been spread across the race course in anticipation of perfectly set tracks. Low temperatures over the last couple days have also helped preparations, and the forecast for Saturday and Sunday morning predict a low of -12°C (10F). As a result of these promising conditions, OC president Alfredo Weiss has claimed that this year’s course will probably win the award for “best Marcialonga tracks” ever made in the race’s history.
Many top athletes are set to be on the start line this year. Among them are Swedish stars Jerry Ahrlin – who won the Marcialonga last year as well as 2007 – Oskar Svärd, Daniel Tynell, and their fellow countrywomen Sussane Nyström, Nina Lintzen and Jenny Hansson. Hansson, who won last weekend’s Dolomitenlauf, is currently the leader in the overall Worldloppet series.
For the Norwegian contingent, champion Jörgen Aukland – who won the race in 2003 and 2006, and arrived second in 2007, 2008 and 2009 – will also be part of the top group, along with his brother Anders Aukland – who won in 2004 and 2008 – and the former world champion Thomas Alsgaard. Norway’s Hilde G. Pedersen, who was the women’s champion of last year’s race as well as in 2007, will try to win the third Marcialonga of her career.
Other big names on the start list are the Austrian Thomas Steurer, the Czech Stanislav Rezac, the Estonian Jaak Mae and the Italian triple-threat of Marco Cattaneo, Bruno Carrara and Fabio Santus.
Bjørn Dæhlie, who is often referred to as the greatest Winter Olympic athlete of all time, will also be on Sunday’s start line.
Race is at Capacity
Entries closed three months before the scheduled date, which was at the end of October 2009, and 6,543 athletes from 28 nations were assigned a bib number. Almost one third of the entries are Italians (2,073), with the rest of the participants coming from abroad, in particular from Norway (2,245) and Sweden (1,216).
Throughout this week in the main square of Predazzo there will be an exhibition about the history of cross-country skiing.
In Canazei: at 6pm the Official Opening Ceremonies take place.
In Predazzo: at 8pm a sprint competition will be run through the center of the village.
In Ziano: there will be music and festivities.
In Molina: A torch-light procession with tea and mulled wine for all.