The first FIS race of the 2011 season may have been last weekend in Muonio, Finland but the action starts in ernest tomorrow with a full international field hitting the trails in Muonio and a Norwegian-dominated start list at the annul Beitostolen weekend.
128 men and 46 women are scheduled to start the 10/15km freestyle in this small mountain village in central Norway. Wile the bulk of the field is Norwegian, top skiers from Russia and Slovenia are joined by contingents from Poland and France.
On the men’s side, Petter Northug headlines the event with countrymen Odd-Bjorn Hjelmeset, Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Tor Alse Gjerdalen. Top Norwegian biathletes Ole Einar Bjorndalen and Emil Svendsen join the fray along with biathlete turned cross-country skier Ronny Hafsas.
Alexander Legkov leads a strong Russian team that also includes Petr Sedov and Ilya Chernousov.
The women’s 10km will be no less impressive with stars Therese Johaug and Kristin Stoermer Steira making the season debuts. Katja Visnar and Barbara Jezersek represent Slovenia – top skier Petra Majdic will race in Muonio.
Marit Bjoergen is scheduled to race, but has been battling illness and is questionable at best.
Overall, the fields are a mix of has-beens, up and comers, and the today’s biggest stars. Northug and Johaug will battle names form the past like Joergen and Anders Aukland and Frode Andersen, while atelented group of U23 skiers attempt to make their mark.
American Torin Koos is in Norway, but will not race tomorrow. He is scheduled to start the two races over the weekend.
Start Lists (PDFs)