The classic style races in the 41st sequential Finlandia Ski Marathon have been honorably completed. Men’s 32km classic race was won by Ristomatti Hakola, a first timer in Finlandia Ski Marathon, who beat the seven-time Finlandia winner Kari Varis at the final sprint.
“Finlandia Ski Marathon is a great race and there were tough names on the starting line so this victory feels really good. Beating Kari was especially rewarding as it felt that his skis were slippery whereas I myself almost sprawled. The weather was really tough and at times it felt you would have needed a snow pusher at front. I’m glad the route was only 32 km. I wouldn’t have wanted to ski the 50 km route” contemplates Hakola, the winner of the race.
Third place in the men’s race went to Lasse Paakkonen who crossed the finish line 1,7 seconds after the winner. The top three skiers all represent the professional Skiforce Team that was founded for this season and focuses on long distance mass ski races.
“This was the first race together for our team and was kind of like ‘maiden voyage’. And you can say it went pretty well as we were able to achieve triple victory” the pleased winner Hakola said.
In the women’s 32 km classic race the victory went in show style to Heli Heiskanen, who beat the runner-up Laura Alba with almost 12 minutes.
“I was leading the race the whole time and thus was able to even save myself in the last 10 kilometers. You see I am planning to race tomorrow as well. On some places of the track the grip was not very good, but those spots were very rare. I chose grip base skis which turned out to be a good choice” went through the women’s winner Heiskanen.
Overall the Saturday in Finlandia Ski Marathon went extremely well despite the challenging weather. In total 3671 skiers had registered for the Saturday’s race of which 2820 made it to the finish line. The feedback from the skiers was even surprisingly positive.
“This was one of the most challenging Finlandia Ski Marathon’s ever. First there were no snow, which we could compensate with hard work. Then came the frost which made the tracks really hard and then finally the sleet rain which made the conditions even tougher. After receiving the positive feedback from the skiers it turned out that it was worth all the hard work to get the tracks in shape and this event organized. Some have even said that the tracks were the best they have ever skied on. The skiers mostly had quite few skiing kilometers behind so the shorter route turned out to be a positive change for many” concludes Esko Saari, the chairman of the Finlandia Ski Marathon organizing committee.