The Long Distance Ski Championship

Tord Asle Gjerdalen and Katerina Smutna win Marcialonga 2017!

Katerina Smutná and Tord Asle Gjerdalen both from Team Santander takes the victory in the famous Long March ski race, better known as Marcialonga. The former has now three Visma Ski Classics race wins in a row and the latter has three  consecutive Marcialonga victories under his belt!

The 44th edition of Marcialonga took place on a truncated course with a distance of 57 km. Many expected a fast-paced and uneventful race until the legendary Cascata climb to the finish, but three breakaways made the races a great and dramatic experience for all spectators who were gathered around the course.

In the women’s race, Britta Johansson Norgren, Lager 157 ski team, and Katerina Smutná, Team Santander, broke away quite early on and kept their own pace all the way to the finish. Smutná proved to be stronger again in the final hill and beat her opponent by 0.8 seconds. Behind them, Sara Lindborg, Team Serneke, did a great job securing the third place, although she admitted being in a ”blank zone” in the last hill. Norgren said that she tried to keep up a fast pace from the beginning to make sure that no one could follow her except Smutná. She succeeded in that but she just did not have enough power and energy to claim the second straight victory in the legendary race. However, she remains the yellow bib holder after today.

”I respected Britta’s past victories in this race and the pace was high in the beginning when she was leading,” the happy winner Smutná commented after the crossing the finish line. ”The battle between Britta and I continues after this and the next step is in Toblach-Cortina. Luckily, we have a two-week break before that.”

In the men’s race, Thomas Gifstad, Team Forever Nordic, suprised everyone by breaking away after Canazei. He had his moment in the sun for quite a long time until the chasing group caught him up. The drama and excitement did not end there as Team Santander’s Andreas Nygaard decided to see how fast and far he could actually go before the others could get on his heels. That breakaway lasted almost to the end, and right before the Cascata hill the chasing pack passed him.

Then, it became an epic battle between Tord Asle Gjerdalen, Johan Kjölstad, Team United Bakeries, and Morten Eide Pedersen, Team BN Bank. Gjerdalen showed everyone that he knows how to win this magical race while Kjölstad was able to push a little harder in the end and pass his countryman. They all admitted to being completely out of power and energy in the end.

”I wasn’t nervous about my team mates’ breakaway,” Gjerdalen admitted with his trademark sun glasses on. ”It was part of our team tactics. I broke my pole in the beginning that’s why I was a bit behind in the first control point. It was an easy race for me as I let Petter Eliassen and John Kristian Dahl and the guys do all the work when we were catching up with Andreas. I had a free ride until the last hill and then I knew it was my time again.”

With three wins, Gjerdalen has become a true Marcialonga legend, but he insists that the title of ”King of Marcialonga” should still go to Jörgen Aukland who has four victories and many more podium places in this great race. Gjerdalen may be hard to beat in the Visma Ski Classics overall competition and it seems that he may be wearing the yellow bib for some time.

The breakaway king Andreas Nygaard and Britta Johansson Norgren lead in the sprint categories while Stian Hoelgaard, Team LeasePlan, and Svenja Hoelzle, Team Synnfjell, are the youth category leaders after today’s race. Team Santander has a strong lead over Team Lager 157 in the team competition.
The next Visma Ski Classics event is again in Italy when Toblach -Cortina takes place on February 11.