The Long Distance Ski Championship

Silly season has started!

The Visma Ski Classics season number seven has just ended and silly season has started. Here are some news from the top ten pro teams.

Written by Erik Wickström.

The Visma Ski Classics season ended in April and after some vacation many pro teams have just started or just finished their first camp for next winter. Several pro teams have the Guide World Classics Tour, with three long distance rollerski events, as the big goal for the summer. But most of all the time from now until November is about preparing for the winter.

The pro teams have until September 30th to present their roster. But already now we can se some changes among the teams. Here is a quick look at the status at the moment for the ten best pro teams last season.

1) Team Santander. The Norwegian team with the Spanish bank as title sponsor has dominated Visma Ski Classics the last years. Now they have lost Johan Olsson who has retired as a professional skier. But since he didn't race at all in Visma Ski Classics the last two seasons that will not make a big difference. If something should stop Team Santander to capture yet another title it might be due to the women's side. Rumors say that Justyna Kowalczyk might change team. And will Katerina Smutna focus more on the Olympics instead of long distance skiing next season?

2) Lager 157 Ski Team. The Swedish team with the champion Britta Johansson Norgren has a strong male squad as well. If Fredrik Byström will be able to race despite the heart problems that put him aside in the end of the season, the team is strong if they are able to keep all athletes. They have just made an interesting recruit in Anton Karlsson. Anton raced some Visma Ski Classics events for the team last year and proved to be a great sprinter. Now he is an important part of the team and his goal is to win the green sprint bib.

3) Team United Bakeries. Ever since the first season in 2011, the name Team United Bakeries has been found in the result lists. But now it seems (not confirmed) like current Team United Bakeries, which stems from Team Skigo in 2013, will change its title sponsor. Probably, most skiers on the team will form a new setting and continue. One athlete, Chris Jespersen, has left the team to become part of Petter Northug's team.

4) Team LeasePlan. Thomas Alsgaard's team has been part of Ski Classics since the start in 2011 (at that time as Team United Bakeries), but now the era is over. The team will retire and the skiers have to look for other options. If Petter Eliassen will compete at all is not for sure. He might focus on an internship instead of racing. Many of the other skiers will probably show up in other teams. Time will tell.

5) Team BN Bank. The small Norwegian team managed by Øystein "Pølsa" Pettersen had a great start as a team last year, despite a miserable day at Vasaloppet. It seems like the main squad consisting of Pølsa, Morten Eide Pedersen and Simen Østensen will continue and reach even higher next season.

6) Team Serneke. A new team from last season with a great start, just like Team BN Bank. If they could keep stars like Sara Lindborg and Oskar Kardin, they will most likely have another good season. Maybe they could spice up the squad with some athletes that previously raced for Team LeasePlan?

7) Team Pioneer Investments. The enthusiastic team director Lukas Bauer has done a great job with his team. He also collects some points himself, mostly using kickwax as one of the few. They have recently started up their first camp and they give heads up for several news in a near future.

8) Russian Marathon Team. The Russian team didn't have any exceptional stars last season, but with a deep team they managed to get top ten in the overall results. The team for next season is not yet set. You are still able to apply for the team and you find the application instructions on their Facebook page.

9) Team Robinson Petshop Trainer. It is difficult to find out what's happening in the Italian team with Heli Heiskanen as the best skier last year. There is not much activity in their channels. Maybe some changes coming up?

10) Team Tynell. One of the smallest team is loosing their best male skier, Jerry Ahrlin, who will retire. To fill the gap from him they have recruited Jens Eriksson from Team Santander. Jens was second in Vasaloppet China last season and he has been top five in Vasaloppet three times.

Rumors also say that there is a new Finish team coming up. And maybe Team Forever Nordic could reach top ten next season. They will release some interesting news in July.