The Long Distance Ski Championship



Written by: Teemu Virtanen

No rest for the wicked or pastries for the lazy ones! These guys may have an endless supply of bakery products, but they certainly have no time or inclination to spend their waking hours gormandizing their sponsor's tasty creations. They have to focus on being the best in Visma Ski Classics since the last season was a bit "under the weather" for them.

Sicknesses, mishaps and bad luck were certainly unwanted companions all season long, but there were some occasional great moments; John Kristian Dahl's third victory in Vasaloppet, Johan Kjølstad's good performances in the early season (e.g. 2nd in Marcialonga), Tore Bjorseth Berdal's two top 10 places in the end of the season, and of course, Astrid Oyre Slind's consistency throughout the season; in the top 6 in every race except Årefjällsloppet (5 podium places).

Now, the team is not looking back on the turbulent season number seven as they have moved on and are ready for the new winter. They believe 8 is their new lucky number, and they will seriously challenge Team Santander as the greatest team in the club. They also want to excel at winning in the Holy Trinity of the races; Marcialonga, Vasaloppet and Birkebeinerrennet.

The team has signed two new names, Stian Hoelgaard (formely in Team LeasePlan, now defunct) and Torleif Syrstad, (formely in Team Synnfjell) and they both have certainly proven themselves as worthy players. Stian won the youth category and was 4th in the overall results and managed to be on the podium four times (3rd every time). Torleif did not manage quite that well, but he did every race except Vasaloppet China and finished 19th in the overall competition, Marcialonga's 8th place as his best.

Team United Bakeries really has all the elements to be the cream of the crop, but everything needs to be in place. Johan Kjølstad's retirement is a big blow to the team. But the show goes on, and these guys need wins, regular podium places and a strong team play. If that happens, they may reward themselves with those sweet goodies their sponsor so zealously provides them when the season is over.