‘Just an idea at the beginning, that we soon turned into reality’, claimed Roberto Moggio, one of Marcialonga founders, at the official press conference held in Trento, today. At the end of the 1960s, nobody could possibly imagine that cross country skiing would become one of the most popular sport activities in Trentino region, Italy’s North East. After taking part in notorious Vasaloppet in Sweden, a bunch of Nordic sports lovers from Val di Fiemme came back home in 1970 and gave birth to an incredible idea. ‘Why don’t we replicate it in our valleys?’ Moggio was among them, and the other three were Nele Zorzi, Giulio Giovannini and Mario Cristofolini. Cristofolini was sitting at the conference table today, together with Marcialonga OC President Alfredo Weiss and General Director Gloria Trettel.
February 7, 1971: the first Marcialonga got on track and over 1.000 participants showed up at the start (40 were from abroad). ‘A men’s crusade against the alienation of modern life’ read a huge banner held in Predazzo, and that was also the spirit of such an event that in truth was much more than just a sport event. That year, Italian Ulrico Kostner was the first to cross the finish line in Cavalese, after around 70k race. In 1972, the number of entries boosted to 5000, Scandinavian Pauli Siitonen grabbed the gold medal, and two skiers from Norway were disqualified because they were …women in disguise.
The number of participants kept growing year after year (total amount reached over 200.000 people this year), in 1978 the ski-marathon finally opened its doors to female athletes, and in 1979 Marcialonga entered the Worldloppet series.
In 2003, Val di Fiemme housed the Nordic World Ski Championships (as it will next month) and Marcialonga OC decided to go back to the origins: classic technique only. Joergen Aukland of Norway won in 2003 and he was also the very last winner, preceding brother Anders last year.
Over 7.500 skiers from 32 nations will gather at the start next Sunday, January 27, in Moena. Some of them (512) will race the 45k Light Course. Many top skiers will be fighting for the podium, such as Norway’s Aukland brothers, Svartedal or Oestensen, Italy’s Piller Cottrer, Santus, Kostner, Bonaldi, Morandini or Paredi, Sweden’s Ahrlin, Svaerd, Elofsson, Brink and Johnsson, Russia’s Rochev, Rezac and Koukal of Czech Republic. On the women’s side, Genuin, Confortola and Santer of Italy, Hansson, Nystroem and Lintzen of Sweden, or Boner of Switzerland are all long-distance specialists.
Several side events will be taking place on Saturday 26 January at the XC stadium in Lago di Tesero, such as Minimarcialonga for kids, Marcialonga Young for young categories and Marcialonga Stars supporting the Italian Association against Cancer (Lega contro i Tumori).
On Saturday morning at 9.30, the Marcialonga Story special event will kick off from the XC stadium with hundreds of skiers in vintage outfit celebrating over 40 years of cross country skiing in Italy, and also Olympic champion Franco Nones will be at the start with bib number 1. The 2013 Marcialonga opening ceremony will take place in Tesero town centre at 6pm.
As well as in the past years, Marcialonga is part of the FIS Marathon Cup, other than being included in the Ski Classics series and the Worldloppet calendar.
A new Marcialonga App for iOS and Android, full of information, updated news, entry lists, weather forecasts and much more, is available on www.marcialonga.it