Recap of the season: Suspense until the last minute! Great races, great athletes, great performances!
With the Engadin Skimarathon on March 10, the FIS Marathon Cup season 2012/13 got officially closed. With 402 points in total and two second places (Dolomitenlauf and American Birkebeiner) Tatiana Mannima from Estonia showed a strong season and could gain the victory in the overall already before the last race. The 33-year-old Mannima also represented her country also in the Tour de Ski and the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Val di Fiemme (ITA). A full calendar for the young mother who as extremely to have been able to obtain the victory in the overall FIS Marathon Cup: “This victory means really much for me. Winning the overall FIS Marathon Cup shows that you have been really good throughout the season. We had some very hard races and a lot of good girls on the starting line, so I am very, very happy to be the one who could win the overall. I hope that will now also help me in finding new sponsors for the next season!” says a brightly smiling Mannima. Places two and three were taken by Seraina Boner (SUI, 320 points) and Antonella Confortola (ITA, 274 points).
On the men's side, it was not so clear. Until the last race, Sergio Bonaldi (ITA), Benoit Chauvet (FRA), Anders Aukland (NOR) and Petr Novak (CZE) were fighting for the podium spots. In the end, it was the Italian, who could claim the victory with 271 points and two victories (Dolomitenlauf and American Birkebeiner) to his account. Benoit Chauvet got second and Anders Aukland, even though not present at the Engadin Skimarathon, still remained in third position. Bonaldi, who was already second in last summer's overall Rollerski World Cup, couldn't stop smiling at the prize giving ceremony at the Engadin Skimarathon: “I am really, really happy that I finally could win the overall FIS Marathon Cup! It was a hard fight and in the beginning, I was not even sure that I would be in the top three at all as the season didn't start so well for me. But since my victory at the Dolomitenlauf, where I could even put Petter Northug behind me, it all got better and better. Finally, after the American Birkeibeiner, I realised that I could really win this cup and I am really relieved that it worked out in the end as my result in the Engadin Skimarathon was not great at all! Now I hope that my victory does not only help me to find new sponsors but that the whole Italian long distance team can profit from it. In marathon skiing, you are nothing without a good team around you!” explains the 34-year-old.
The season 2012/13 got kicked off with the 42km long FT race of La Sgambeda in Livigno, Italy, with the victory of Petter Northug Jr. (NOR), the Norwegian hero of World Cup skiing. On the women's side it was Riitta-Liisa Roponen (FIN), equally a World Cup skier, who could, surprisingly for herself, gain her first victory in her first FIS Marathon Cup race. After La Sgambeda, it got quite again for the long distance racers before the season really started with the 50km CT Jizerská Padesatka (CZE) where Anders Aukland (NOR) and Valentina Shevchenko (UKR) could win. From the Jizerská onwards, there was no time to relax for the FIS Marathon Cup athletes: The Dolomitenlauf (42km FT, winners Sergio Bonaldi (ITA) and Olga Mikhailova (RUS)), the Marcialonga (70km CT, winners Joergen Aukland (NOR) and Seraina Boner (SUI)) and the König-Ludwig-Lauf followed each other – the last one however had to be cancelled due to too bad weather. Over night, the warm temperatures and the ongoing rain had made it impossible to start the rain, as parts of the track did not exist anymore as still the day before. Heading towards France and La Transjurassienne (76km FT), the weather resigned to sun and cold temperatures. A complete French podium for the men's race with Benoit Chauvet as winner for the second time after 2011 (different track). Also a French victory on the women's side: Celia Bourgeois, originally from the area of La Transjurassienne, could celebrate her first victory in her home race. From France, the circuit headed towards Estonia and the Tartu Maraton – the 62km CT race through the landscape between Tartu and Otepää. Simen Oestensen (NOR) and Sandra Hansson (SWE) were the victorious ones in this famous classic race. From Tartu, the FIS Marathon Cup headed overseas to America and the American Birkebeiner. Here, Sergio Bonaldi (ITA) and Caitlin Gregg (USA) could ski onto the first place. In the men's race, the finish was so close that at first, Bonaldi's team mate Fabio Santus was announced as winner and only the photo finish picture revealed that it was actually Bonaldi's foot which was over the line first. For some athletes, there was no time for rest after the long travel to the US as it was time to head back to Europe and the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Val di Fiemme, e.g. for Tatiana Mannima (EST), who already had the big cup of the overall FIS Marathon Cup in her pocket after her third place in the American Birkebeiner. In Val di Fiemme, she competed in the relay and the 30km. On March 10, it was then time to head to the Engadin (SUI) and the Engadin Skimarathon which acted as final for the FIS Marathon Cup. In the men's race, it got very interesting again as it wasn't yet decided who would be able to take the victory in the overall FIS Marathon Cup home. In the end, a 27th place for Bonaldi was enough as his biggest rival, Benoit Chauvet (FRA) could only place ninth. The race was won by Pierre Guedon (FRA) and Riitta-Liisa Roponen (FIN).
Another season finished with happy faces in the sun of the Engadin - a season which also showed that there is more specification in long distance racing in regards to the skiing technique as there is in the World Cup. Racers are focusing more on one technique, classic or skating, rather then to try to excel in both.
FIS Marathon Cup on TV
Worldloppet has started a project before the season 2012/13 in partnership with EBU / Eurovision that FIS Marathon Cup races will produce at least a 3min news edit which will then be diffused by EBU /Eurovision to all its member stations for free. This was the first step to make images of Worldloppet races and the own elite cup available to a wider public in order to promote both races and cup.
Worldloppet was very satisfied with the outcome of this first step, having seen that the small feeds were taken by TV stations in over 10 countries. The project will continue next season with having each FIS Marathon Cup race producing a 26min highlights film which can be easily used by TV stations around the world in case a live broadcasted race in any discipline might have to be cancelled or delayed.
The FIS Marathon Cup has however also to announce the retirement of Ursina Badilatti (SUI) from competitive skiing. The 30-year-old from Posciavo (SUI), who had been a member of the Swiss National Cross Country Team for years as well as of the Engadin Skimarathon Team, will start working as a project leader in event management. All the best to her for the future!
Worldloppet season 2012/13 – Birkebeinerrennet (NOR) & Demino Ski Marathon (RUS) to finalise the winter
After the Engadin Skimarathon (SUI) had closed the FIS Marathon Cup season, the traditional Birkebeinerrennet (NOR) and the new Worldloppet member race, the Demino Skimarathon (RUS) were still to come.
Last Saturday, thousands of skiers started for the 76th time the nowadays 54km long voyage from Rena to Lillehammer to remember the Birkebeiner soldiers who took the little baby boy Haakon Haakonsson, the later king Haakon, to Nidaros (Trondheim), fleeing from the rivalling Baglers who wanted to have the thrown of Norway to themselves after the death of king Haakon Sverresson, the father of little Haakon. The 3.5kg heavy backpack which each racer has to wear today during the race shall represent the weight of the little baby boy. The fastest this year, for the fourth time, was Anders Aukland (NOR) on the men's side and for the third consecutive time it was Seraina Boner (SUI) who could crown herself “Queen of the Birkebeinerrennet”.
At the same time in Russia, the Demino Ski Marathon took place with the presence of several World Cup and FIS Marathon Cup athletes, like the overall winner on the men's side Sergio Bonaldi (ITA). But Saturday's 50km freestyle technique race should be the race of his team mate Florian Kostner, the husband of last year's overall FIS Marathon Cup winner Stephanie Santer (ITA). He won the Demino Ski Marathon in front of compatriot Alan Martinelli and the Russian Sergey Shyriaev. On the women's side, it was a complete Russian podium with Olga Mikhailova, the winner of the Dolomitenlauf (AUT) in January, finishing first, in front of Ekaterina Rudakova and Natalya Zernova. The Demino Ski Marathon weekend also included the 25km CT race on Sunday and several races for juniors and kids.
With these two races now finished as well, the Worldloppet season is over – until August, when many will get their skis out of the cellar, having 30 degrees outside and no snow in sight. They will head to Australia and the Southern Hemisphere where it's then time for winter and the 42km FT Kangaroo Hoppet! But until then, popular skiers and elite skiers alike, will enjoy the still winterly conditions in Europe and Northern America.
The Worldloppet Executive Committee had its Spring meeting in St. Moritz after the Engadin Skimarathon, discussing the passed season and preparing the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Hayward (USA) in June.
In general, an increase in participants and new passport holders could be noticed by all races which shows that long distance skiing is more and more popular and seen as a good way of combining physical activity with conviviality and travelling. And this special feature of Worldloppet races does not only draw young and old towards the races but also different celebrities, royals and heads of state respectively ministers.
With more World Cup skiers skiing a FIS Marathon Cup from time to time but not winning naturally, the importance and the high competition level is brightly shown and underlines the immense performance of the FIS Marathon Cup elite skiers who are racing basically every weekend throughout the season a long distance race.
Another point of discussion were the so called “exotic races”. These are smaller races which are not yet able to fulfil the minimum requirements in order to be able to be included in the Worldloppet Ski Federation as a full member. They shall now be able to get a status of an associated WL race which would enable them to stamp passports which in turn is most important to make many foreigners want to come to the race. An evaluation system each race has to undergo if it wants to become an associated WL race will now be installed.
At the occasion of the Executive Committee meeting, as all persons who were equipped thorughout the winter by Worldloppet's new clothing supplier STONEHAM were together, the Executive Committee and all Worldloppet staff wanted to thank STONEHAM for a really good cooperation and great clothes which enabled everybody to stay warm and comfortable throughout the winter season. The clothes were tested in all kind of conditions, like really cold temperatures (La Transjurassienne), rain (König-Ludwig-Lauf) and snow. The cooperation will continue next season with a project in sight of which all Wordloppet racers will be able to profit. More information on that will come after the AGM in June.
Important dates & Information:
June 13-17: Worldloppet Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Hayward (USA), hosted by the American Birkebeiner
August 24: Kangaroo Hoppet (AUS), 42km FT
Please note that many of the Worldloppet races have summer events in mountainbiking, road cycling, running, trail running, rollerskiing and / or inline skating. For more information, please have a look on the respective race's web page.
Worldloppet – The World of Marathon Skiing!!!