Exciting new developments have been announced for this winter’s Swix Ski Classics. The marathon series has expanded from six races to nine and includes a new race format for the prologue called the ProTeam Tempo, which is modeled after team events in cycling.
The series will begin on Dec. 13 in Livigno, Italy. The organizers of the Swix Ski Classics explained in a press release that there was a demand to start the series in December instead of mid-January when it has started in the past.
The opening event in Livigno will be a 15 km classic prologue that will feature the new ProTeam Tempo format; it will be the only event in the Swix Ski Series in which amateur skiers cannot compete.
In the prologue the women will begin the race first in a mass start. They will be followed by the men on each pro team, starting together with a two-minute gap between each team. The teams will start based on how they finished in the team competition last season, with the winning team from 2014 starting last. The ProTeam Tempo event will add some early season excitement to the season-long team competition. The team competition is calculated by adding the times of the fastest woman and two fastest men on each pro team.
Following the prologue, the series will continue the next day in Livigno with the 35 k La Sgambeda. After a four-week break following the La Sgambeda, January will be a busy month for the teams with four consecutive weekends of marathon racing.
Jan. 11 will see the teams travel to the Czech Republic for the 50 k Jizerska Padesatka. The next weekend the series will move to Switzerland for the 65 k La Diagonela. The Swiss race now features a new course in the Engadin Valley that works its way through the villages of St. Moritz, Zuoz and Pontresina.
The following weekend on Jan. 25, teams will compete in the 70 k Marcialonga in Italy. A week later on February 1, the series will travel to Oberammergau, Germany for the König Ludwig Lauf. In all, this month of racing will see skiers cover 235 km in four countries.
Following the König Ludwig Lauf, teams will rest and train with a five-week break until the 90 k Swedish Vasaloppet on March 8. Two weeks later the teams will travel to Norway for the 53 k Birkebeinerrennet. The series will end a week later in Northern Sweden on March 28 with the 75 k Årefjällsloppet.
Swix Ski Classics CEO David Nilsson called the expanded calendar a great improvement for athletes and TV-stations.
“We have also worked hard in order to be able to start off the season already in December,” he said. “It will then be interesting to see how the ‘January-madness’ of 4 events, 4 weekends in a row turns out. The introduction of the new ProTeam Tempo format will make the Swix Ski Classics Pro Teams competition even more interesting. The ProTeam Tempo format has been developed in discussions with athletes and teams. Now we are all just waiting for December to come in order to start off the best Swix Ski Classics calendar so far!”
Pasha Kahn writes and coaches in Duluth, Minnesota.