OSLO, Norway – Joergen Aukland and fellow Norwegian Kjartan Roland were the original marathon specialists, who almost singlehandedly represented Norway consistently in the large international ski marathons outside of Norway.
But that was ten years ago. Today, thousands of Norwegians travel to marathons such as Italy’s Marcialonga, and the races now boast a number of high-profile athletes, including Aukland and his brother, Anders.
Both have fought for fame and glory, mostly for their own personal bragging rights, but with the launch of Ski Classics, they now have to consider their team – in this case, Team Xtra Personell. Ski Classics is a points-based competition running across all the season’s big marathons, with a Tour de France-style yellow jersey for the overall Ski Classic Champion, a pink jersey for the top racer under 25, a sprint jersey and a team jersey. Team points are awarded to the top two men and top two women in each race.
“It’s really exciting that we get something like this. I’ve dreamt about it for a decade. Now we can race even more like a team in the big marathons,” Joergen Aukland told Langrenn.com.
Sprint points will also count toward the overall team points throughout the season. One tricky issue for Team Xtra Personell is that they lack a strong female skier on their squad, who would have the potential to earn the women’s points. Both brothers Aukland and team manager Nils Marius Otterstad, exchanged furtive glances when Langrenn.com asked about who might step into that role during the formal launch of the Ski Classics in Oslo on November 29.
The races in Ski Classics 2011:
1 – Jizerska Padesatka, Czeck Republic, January 9, 2011
2 – Marcialonga, Italy, January 30, 2011
3 – König Ludwig Lauf, Germany, February 6, 2011
4 – Vasaloppet, Sweden, March 6, 2011
5 – Birkebeinerrennet, Norway, March 19, 2011
Final – Norefjellrennet, Norway, April 2, 2011
All six events will be televised live for Norwegian viewers via TV2, except for the Birkie, which can been seen live on NRK.
From Langrenn.com, November 30, 2010. By Geir Nilsen, translation by Inge Scheve
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Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.