Sunday’s 50-kilometer classic race Jizerská Padesatka near Liberec, Czech Republic, is the next event in the 2015 Swix Ski Classics long-distance circuit and racers are eager to hit the tracks after a long break since the first races in Italy in mid-December.
Going into the third event in the Ski Classics (after the opening Pro Team Prologue and La Sgambeda), Norway’s Anders Aukland of Team Santander tops the overall ranking. Johan Kjølstad, who won the overall Ski Classics title last season, is second overall.
In the Ski Classics athlete ranking, 42-year-old Aukland tops the list in front of his younger brother Jørgen Aukland. Kjølstad, who races with Team United Bakeries, is in third place, three points ahead of Czech veteran Stanislav Rezac of Team Silvani Madshus, while Sweden’s Jörgen Brink of Team Lager 157 is fifth overall going into the Jizerská 50 k on Sunday.
In the overall sprint competition, Andreas Nygaard (Team Santander) is currently wearing the green points bib, while Team United Bakeries’ Øystein Pettersen is in second place, 10 points behind Nygaard.
Brooks Skips the Jizerská
American Holly Brooks, who was picked up by the Aukland brothers’ Team Santander just a day prior to the start of the Ski Classics season, is in sixth place in the women’s overall competition. Seraina Boner of Switzerland, who races for Team Coop, tops both the overall standing as well as the athlete ranking.
However, Brooks is sitting out the Jizerská, returning to Europe for the Dolomitenlauf on Jan. 18, and joining her team for the Marcialonga a week later.
“I’m just trying to balance the FIS Marathon Cup, the Swix Ski Classics, and travel,” Brooks wrote in an email. “In years past I’ve done maybe three races 30K and longer spread out over a season, so I don’t know how my body is going to react and/or how the fatigue will build.
“My goal is to race as much as possible without a downgrade in performance,” she added. “I have a feeling I will be very, very tired by the end of the season.”
New Women Join Circuit
Prior to the Jizerská, the competition for the women’s overall Ski Classics title gets tougher. Three different Pro Teams have entered new female skiers into the long-distance series: Norway’s Hilde Landheim will race for Team Coop, Viktoria Melina joins the Russian Marathon Team, and Masako Ishida of Japan will race for Team United Bakeries.
In the Ski Classics, each professional team may enter a total of 10 skiers per season, male and female skiers included. Once entered, the teams may not unregister athletes, but they can enter additional athletes until they reach the maximum of 10 skiers.
Last year, the Jizerská races were canceled due to lack of snow, so event organizers are especially excited to put on the races this year and are proud to present stellar conditions on the race course. Promising weather forecasts, decent snowfall in the past week and cold weather have made it possible to produce enough artificial snow to cover the whole course, and the organizers are confident that they will be able to run the race as planned given the weather forecast, which predicted snow at the start and temperatures around freezing.
“We are happy to see that the weather has turned fine and the winter conditions have finally arrived,” Martin Koucky, a member of the Jizerská 50 Organizing Committee, said in a press release. “The whole Jizerská 50 track is now covered with snow while the race preparations continue to run along at full speed. There are some thirty centimeters of artificial and natural snow at potential critical points: at the Bedrichov stadium as
In addition to the 50 k Ski Classic on Sunday, the Jizerská race weekend opens with a 30 k skate race and a children’s race on Friday, and also offers a 25 k classic race as well as a corporate relay race on Saturday. New this year is a 1.5-kilometer double-pole sprint on Friday.
Six More Marathons on Tap
After the Jizerská 50 on Sunday, the Ski Classics moves to Switzerland for the brand-new La Diagonela on Jan. 17.
La Diagonela was introduced to the race series last winter as a replacement for the Jizerská 50, which was be canceled, but was such a success that the circuit included the race as a new, permanent installment on the Ski Classics calendar for the 2014/2015 season. This year, the 65-kilometer La Diagonela will be held on a picturesque new course through the villages of St. Moritz, Zuoz and Pontresina in the Engadin Valley.
After the stop in Switzerland, the Ski Classics moves to Italy for the Marcialonga in the valleys of Val di Fassa and Val di Fiemme on Jan. 25. The 70 k race is famous for its notorious final uphill climb, the Cascata, to the finish in Cavalese town square.
From Italy, the Pro Teams travel to Germany for the 50 k König Ludwig Lauf in Oberammergau, Bavaria, on Feb. 1.
After the König Ludwig Lauf, the athletes get a well-deserved break from competing until the legendary 90 k Vasaloppet from Saelen to Mora, Sweden, on March 8.
After Vasaloppet, the circuit moves on to Norway’s Birkebeinerrennet on March 21. The 54 k classic race starts in Rena, crosses to mountains to the finish line in Lillehammer, the host of the 1994 Winter Olympics.
The series once again ends with the season finale Årefjällsloppet in Sweden on March 28. The 75 k race offers stunning views from the in Vallbo to the finish line in Åre.
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.