The 24th edition of the Club Andino Ushuaia’s Marchablanca took place Sunday, August 15th, 2010 in the Valley of Tierra Mayor outside of Ushuaia, Argentina. Under blue skies and brilliant sun, Federico Cicchero took the men’s 21km freestyle race in a time of 57:00 and Mara Caviglia covered the same course in 1:04:56 to win the women’s race. Both skiers are based in Ushuaia and ski for the Club Andino Ushuaia.
Cichero skied away from everyone early in the race and finished with a gap of more than four minutes over visiting American master skier Matt Muir and Argentina’s cross-country coach, Sebastián Menci, who rounded out the podium.
On the women’s side, Caviglia also maintained a roughly four minute gap over her closest rival, Lara Hlopec and three more minutes to third place Yanina Tabares, both of Ushuaia. Cichero, Hlopec, and Menci all benefited from a month of training in Vuokatti, Finland last November. Hlopec took twenty-seven minutes off of her previous best time. According to Menci, who competed in the 1992 Albertville Winter Games for Argentina, “thanks to the Argentine ski federation, the month in Finland made new skiers out of Cicherro and Hlopec.” Menci then added, “I sure wish more of my athletes would start beating me.”
In a ceremony before the race, the governor and officials from the province of Tierra del Fuego inaugurated the Marchablanca trail as a “provincial ski trail” that unites all but one of the mostly rustic winter resorts in the valley, from Cerro Castor in the east to Valle Los Lobos in the west. Now, the intention is to sustain regular grooming and maintenance of the corridor that winds through unique Patagonian forests and moors.
The mayor of Ushuaia, a diabetic and avid runner also completed the 21km Marchablanca after only two previous days on cross-country skis. As is his custom upon finishing half and full running marathons, he and his wife held up a sign after crossing the finish line that translates roughly to “Do not let diabetes stop you, live healthily.”
The organizing body of the Marchablanca has steadily improved the event over the last several years, making it more and more professional each year. Sunday’s race came complete with helicopter coverage and a large sponsor base which has embraced the event and its wide appeal. Special accommodations were made for citizen skiers, families, and dozens of developmentally disabled skiers. The race does have its idiosyncrasies. Among them, skiers competing in the 21km event must race through skiers doing the shorter distance events for about two shared kilometers on the course.
Race director Pablo Valcheff had nothing but gratitude for everyone who collaborated with the event and indicated that organizers are especially motivated to arrive at the 25th Marchablanca with even more momentum.
More information is available at www.marchablanca.com.