The Long Distance Ski Championship

Ylläs-Levi is set to go!

The long season of Visma Ski Classics, the
seventh one, is almost over and the 28 pro teams can soon lay down their gear
and set their sights on dry-land training. One more battle awaits them when they
start Ylläs-Levi, a 67-kilometer race with long and challenging climbs to the
top of three fells. Both ski resorts are well-known in Finland offering
spectacular ski courses in the winter and picturesque hiking trails in the summer
as well as the country’s best downhill skiing slopes. As the race takes place
above the Arctic Circle in a region called Lapland, reindeer and other wildlife
creatures can easily be spotted while skiing on the course.

The chief of competition Teemu Virtanen
believes that Ylläs-Levi can offer a perfect ending to an exciting long
distance pro skiing season with its magical atmosphere, great snow conditions
and breathtaking views over the land of “joiku-singing”, shamans and of course Santa
Claus. And the course will set forth a great challenge to the best of Visma Ski
Classics skiers and some of the FIS World Cup racers, who have registered for
the race, even though it may not be as tough as the one in Reistadløpet last
weekend.

“I’m happy to see that we still have plenty
of excitement left in Visma Ski Classics,” Virtanen says in the midst of his
final preparations for the event. “It seems that each category has a strong
candidate for the top spot, but the fights for other podium places will be
fierce in every competition. The sprint one is particularly exciting as we have
three sprints in our race, and the second one is on the top of Kukastunturi
with a spectacular view over Northern Finland. And then we have the Visma
Nordic Trophy tour, which is still completely indecisive!"

Indeed, nothing is set in stone as the
battle rages on in every category. In the overall competitions, Tord Asle
Gjerdalen of Team Santander and Britta Johansson Norgren of Lager 157 Team will
be crowned as the king and queen of Visma Ski Classics this season, but the
other podium places are up for taking. On the men’s side, four skiers are neck
and neck within 113 points, Petter Eliassen of Team LeasePlan being the second
best followed by Andreas Nygaard of Team Santander, Morten Eide Pedersen of
Team BN Bank and Stian Hoelgaard of Team LeasePlan, respectively. The last
three are very close to each other with 13 points separating Nygaard and
Hoelgaard.

The women’s overall competition is not as
tight as the one that their male counterparts are facing, but there is still a
great deal of excitement left. Katerina Smutná of Team Santander is second 247
points ahead of Astrid Øyre Slind of Team United Bakeries who in turn has a
174-point gap over Sara Lindborg of Team Serneke.

Much like the overall competitions, the
sprint category has clear winners in Andreas Nygaard of Team Santander and
Johansson Norgren, but with three sprints Ylläs-Levi presents many points to be
obtained for other skiers behind the leading athletes. In the men’s
competition, Eliassen, Pedersen and Jens Eriksson of Team Santander are the
closest candidates for the podium while Slind and Smutná chase after the second
place in the women’s sprint overall results.

The men’s youth competition victory will go
to Stian Hoelgaard of Team LeasePlan, but two young women will battle for their
category hegemony as Evelina Bångman of Team Ski Pro and Svenja Hoelzle of Team
Synnfjell have 114 points between themselves. Team Santander will win the team
competition, but Lager 157 Team and Team United Bakeries will go head-to-head
for points in the final race.

The Visma Nordic Trophy tour is extremely
thrilling in the dawn of the final race as Johansson Norgren leads with her 665
points, but Justyna Kowalczyk of Team Santander and Slind are still within
touching distance from the Swede, and only 20 points separate these two skiers.

In the men’s competition, three skiers will
fight tooth and nail for the Visma Nordic Trophy. Anders Aukland of Team
Santander is the current leader, but Eliassen and Gjerdalen are right on his
heels, and anything can happen when they hit the fells in Ylläs-Levi.

“As the chief of competition and a long
distance ski enthusiast, I’m really pleased to have this race in Finland,”
Virtanen continues. “This event under the Visma Ski Classics banner will bring
the needed attention to long distance skiing in my home country and increase
the popularity of the sport, not only among elite skiers but recreational skiers
as well. This is also a brilliant way to promote Ylläs, Levi and Lapland in
general to a wide international audience out there. Our team is working night
and day to make this happen, and this will be an event to remember.  I want to make this an annual gathering of
cross-country skiing enthusiasts, elite and amateur skiers alike. Ylläs-Levi
shall be the place to end the winter
and start gazing upon those warm days of summer.”

 

RACE
INFO:

Date: Saturday,
April 8th 2017

Distance: 67km
Classic Technique

Locations: Ylläs
and Levi, Finland

Start Time: Women
CET 07.45, 
Men CET 08.00

Sprints:
 14km
Äkäslompolo, 
22km Kukastunturi, 35km Pyhäjärvi

Participants: 672 by April 5th 

Livestream: play.vismaskiclassics.com