Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Northug's Next Challenges: Marcialonga and Vasaloppet

The skier everybody loves (to hate) says that he might race the 70km Marcialonga and 90km Vasaloppet in 2012. Without a major championships, these classic-technique long distance races seem like a good challenge - especially since both can be won with double-poling.

If he does show up, it'll be fascinating to see what happens. It'd be even better if other World Cup racers - men and women - came over to these two events, the premiere races in the FIS "Marathon Cup." Despite the ultra-long distances of the Marcialonga and Vasaloppet, the races are often decided in sprints within the last 500m - pretty much perfect for someone like the 'Thug. In fact, the former World Cup racer Jörgen Brink has won the last two editions of the Vasaloppet - both times in sprints.

(For the record, both races have been run as part of the World Cup. In 2004, Anders Aukland - then a top-level member of the Norwegian team, beat Giorgio di Centa at the Marcialonga. In 2006, a weak group of World Cup racers could not hang with the marathon specialists at the Vasaloppet, which was won by Daniel Tynell, a three-time Vasaloppet champion. In those years, Gabrielle Paruzzi won the women's Marcialonga and Marit Bjørgen won a shortened 45-km version of the Vasaloppet ahead of Hilde G. Pedersen, who went on to win the Marcialonga in 2007.)


Luke S said...

I've always wondered how the marathon specialists would stack up to the World Cup field in a 50k+ distance. Hopefully we see some good action!

Anonymous said...

They did this back in 2000-2004. They combined some of the Loppet races with the WC. In 2000 it was the Transjurassiene, a 76km skate race in the Jura mountains of France, then in 2001 with the 60km in Kuopio Finland, In 2002 it was the Birkie in Norway (Alsgaard won the race, but finished 2nd to Elofsson, losing by 3 pts). In 2004 they raced the Marcialonga and A. Aukland beat G. Di Centa in a two horse race where both of them stopped halfway through the last gradual climb to the finish to 're-wax.' I can't believe people don't remember these!