March 28, 2012 – It was December 2011 – the first FIS Marathon Cup of the season was drawing closer and only two things were missing in most parts of central Europe: The snow and cold temperatures! Despite Livigno’s (ITA) relatively high altitude in the Alps, only approximately 3km of track could be prepared in the valley – not nearly enough for a 42km FIS Marathon Cup.
Therefore, the first competition had to be cancelled and 2011 ended without a FIS Marathon Cup, but with the beginning of 2012, things got into full swing.
Even though the temperatures were not as cold as they could have been, enough snow was on the ground for the 50km Jizerská Padesatka race in classic style – and more came from above during the race, which made the conditions not the easiest one for racers, spectators and organisers alike. However, the first FIS Marathon Cup of the season 2011/12 was finally held and the athletes on the podium would be seen there many more times during the season. Surely, Stanislav Rezac (CZE) laid the foundation of his victory in the overall FIS Marathon Cup with this first place on home soil. Behind him, Jimmie Johnsson (SWE) and Joergen Aukland (NOR) completed the podium. On the women’s side it was Sara Svendsen who could gain the victory in front of Tatiana Manimaa (EST) and Jenny Hansson (SWE).
One week break and the FIS Marathon Cup really took of with no more free weekend for the following eight weeks! A hard programme for the athletes if they wanted to race each race, however, several decided to concentrate on certain races instead. The first of the eight competitions was the Dolomitenlauf (AUT), which was held, once again due to lack of snow in the valley, in Obertilliach, close to the boarder to Italy.
Perfect sunshine, relatively warm temperatures and difficult waxing conditions awaited the athletes for this first race in skating technique. As the, now shortened to 42km, track was partly running through the shade partly under the warm sun, it was really challenging to find the correct wax in order to be fast in all parts. It was the Italian Fabio Santus, who seemed to have had the best skis, however it was only a glimpse of the eye that parted him from the second Aliaksei Ivanou (BLR), who was followed by the German Tim Tscharnke, who was ordered “a fast long distance training session” by his coach and was therefore inscribed to the Dolomitenlauf. On the women’s side, it was Valentina Shevchenko (UKR) who won in front of Seraina Boner (SUI), who, at this moment, still had to fight with her back, and another Swiss, Seraina Gasparin, who missed the Mass Start at the Biathlon World Cup in Anterselva (ITA) and who therefore thought to take the opportunity to participate in a long distance race.
One week later, it was time for the traditional and famous Marcialonga in Val di Fiemme, the host of the 2013 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. Joergen Aukland (NOR), the winner of this prestigious 70km race in classic technique, showed, what is sometimes possible, even if you are still almost a minute behind the leaders after km 40!!! His brother Anders couldn’t resist his hard fighting brother in the end and finished second in front of Stanislav Rezac (CZE). On the women’s side it was the start for the first of several “Team Exspirit” podiums. Susanny Nyström (SWE) won in front of her team mates Jenny Hansson (SWE) and Seraina Boner (SUI).
One week later, at the König-Ludwig-Lauf, cold temperatures had come over Middle-Europe and also had this 50km race, which passes the famous castle Linderhof (built by the Bavarian king Ludwig II between 1869 and 1886), firmly in the hand that even the perfect sunshine did not help much to heaten up the athletes during the race. In this “Bavarian frost chamber”, it was Stanislav Rezac (CZE) who resisted not only the cold but also his adversaries, Jerry Ahrlin (SWE) and Joergen Aukland (NOR) who became second and third. For the ladies, the podium was the same as in the Marcialonga: Nyström (SWE) in front of Hansson (SWE) and Boner (SUI).
The weekend after, it was still cold, but it was not the cold which let the racers suffer but the strong wind which made the organisers of the 76km skating race La Transjurassienne decide to cut the part into Switzerland since it was the part where the wind blew the hardest….some athletes even described skiing towards Bois d’Amont as to think that they stood still even though they knew they were moving. With a bid smile on his face and later with a big bell around his neck, it was Alikasei Ivanou (BLR) who won this, despite the strong wind, wonderful race through the French Jura Mountains in front of Sergio Bonaldi (ITA) and Martin Koukal (CZE). On the women’s side it was Valentina Shevchenko (UKR) who won in a very impressive manner the race over 54km, with over 6 minutes advantage over Stephanie Santer (ITA) and Tatiana Manimaa (EST).
The week after, it was time to head up North, to Tartu and the 63km long Tartu Maraton, skied in classic technique. Only two weeks away from the legendary Vasaloppet – the main goal of the season for a lot of racers, it was Jörgen Brink who showed that he got in form for the big event. The Swede won in front of Daniel Richardsson (SWE), who had just come to Tartu the night before the race, after a long voyage from the Cross Country World Cup in Sklarska Poreba (POL), and Jimmie Johnsson (SWE). On the girl’s side, for the third time in this winter, it was the same Podium: Susanne Nyström (SWE) wins in front of Jenny Hansson (SWE) and Seraina Boner (SUI).
Further up North, it was time for the 50km Finlandia Hiihto (classic technique), which was, very surprisingly – also for himself – won by Martin Koukal (CZE), who is more known to be a specialist in the skating technique. In an impressive finish he put the two Italians Sergio Bonaldi and Marco Cattaneo to the places two and three. On the women’s side it was Valentina Shevchenko (UKR) who showed that she is also fast in classic races. Tatiana Manimaa (EST) got second and Stephanie Santer (ITA) third.
Then, it was time for the world famous Vasaloppet. Petter Northug Jr. should have started but did not due to sickness. However, it seemed that the appearance of the sister and brother of the Duchess of Cambridge, Pippa and James Middleton, made more headlines than the actual winner of the 88th edition of this famous 90km long race in classic technique. However, it was Jörgen Brink (SWE), who could win this prestigious event – and that already for the third consecutive time and this year in a new record time!!! In an
incredible finish sprint he could claim the victory in front of Daniel Tynell (SWE) and Stanislav Rezac (CZE).
Only one week later, the FIS Marathon Cup got back to central Europe for its last skating race – the Engadin Skimarathon! Great conditions made the track very fast that the organisers already thought about a new record time, but the athletes decided against. However, it was the young Swiss Roman Furger who could put himself in front of Curdin Perl (SUI), who had arrived during the night before the race, directly from the Cross Country World Cup in Oslo (NOR). Third on the podium was, after an impressive finish sprint, the Italian Cristian Zorzi. On the women’s side, it was the French World Cup racer Anouk Faivre-Pikon, who claimed the victory in front of Seraina Boner (SUI) and Natascia Leonardi Cortesi (SUI).
Hosting the final of the FIS Marathon Cup, the traditional Birkebeinerrennet with its special rule that each racer has to carry a 3.5kg backpack filled with certain things, remembering the baby Haakon Haakonsen, the future king of Norway, which was rescued by two Birkebeiner men on skis from those who wanted to kill him. This year, it was Anders Aukland (NOR) who could win this last stop of the FIS Marathon Cup, in front of two fellow countrymen: Roger Aa Djupvik and Espen Harald Bjerke.
After 10 races, three in skating technique and seven in classic style, the season 2011/12 is concluded. The winner of the overall FIS Marathon Cup on the men’s side was certain already for some time before the final, however, on the women’s side, the fight went on until the very last race. Stanislav Rezac (CZE) secured the victory on the men’s side with 405 points whereas Stephanie Santer (ITA) could claim the victory in her first FIS Marathon Cup season with 511 points!
Worldloppet: its Races and the 2011/12 Season
However, the Worldloppet winter 2011/12 did not only consist of FIS Marathon Cup races! Many of the places where a FIS Marathon Cup race took place held also other races, shorter ones or in a different technique, which belong to the Worldloppet circuit and for which Worldloppet passport holders can get a stamp in order to become a “Master” after ten fulfilled races – ten different of course and one in each continent of course! However, there are four races which do not have FIS Marathon Cup races and these are The
Kangaroo Hoppet (AUS), which takes place in August as it is winter in Australia at that time, the Gatineau Loppet in Canada which is followed by the American Birkebeiner (USA) – a race which will become a FIS Marathon Cup race next season! Last but not least, it’s the Bieg Piastow, which is, as the three others, a member of the Worldloppet circuit!
All Worldloppet races could be held in great conditions and growing numbers of participants in each race, anywhere in the world, shows the trend of the last years. Healthy living, including not only healthy food but also outdoor activities, is more popular as ever before and brings more and more people onto the skis. High numbers of older participants also show that this kind of life makes you also fit up into high age and is equally a huge motivation for others to join in in the world of marathon skiing!
2012/13 FIS Marathon Cup Calendar
- 16.12.12 – LA SGAMBEDA – 42km FT
- 13.01.13 – JIZERSKÁ PADESATKA – 50km CT
- 20.01.13 – DOLOMITENLAUF – 60km FT
- 27.01.13 – MARCIALONGA – 70km CT
- 03.02.13 – KÖNIG LUDWIG LAUF – 50km CT
- 10.02.13 – LA TRANSJURASSIENE – 76km FT
- 17.02.13 – TARTU MARATON – 63km CT
- 23.02.13 – AMERICAN BIRKEBEINER – 50km FT
- 10.03.13 – ENGADIN SKIMARATHON – 42km FT
News from Worldloppet & the World of Marathon Skiing
Not only the numbers of participants in Worldloppet races is growing but also the number of races in the world. And they all would like to become a part of Worldloppet and the world of marathon skiing. Worldloppet is of course very happy about this development, as it shows that the continuous work around the world of marathon skiing is paying off.
The following races have announced their interest: Svalbard (Spitsbergen) Marathon (NOR), Fossavatn (ISL), Marca Beret (ESP), Marca Blanka (ARG) and the Arctic Circle Race (GRL).
The executive board of the Worldloppet had come together in Rybinsk (RUS) on the occasion to visit the Demino Skimarathon (March 18), taking place on the Cross Country World Cup venue, which also has announced its wish to become a member of the Worldloppet family. The calendar for the next season was discussed and finalised for the FIS Marathon Cup. The next meeting will be the AGM (Annual General Meeting) held in Tartu (EST) in June where not only the next season but also other important steps for Worldloppet and the world of marathon skiing will be discussed and be voted for.
Exact numbers of passport holder (new & old) will be given out later this spring as many applications are still coming in April. Detailed information on the participant rates of each race and in total will be distributed at the same time.
Important Dates & Information
- Next Worldloppet race: August 25, Kangaroo Hoppet (AUS), 42km skating technique
- Worldloppet AGM: June 14-17, Tartu (EST)
More information: www.worldloppet.com
Visit also the official Worldlooppet Facebook Page HERE.