By Teemu Virtanen
Visma Ski Classics, the long distance ski championship, is going to celebrate its 10th anniversary season coming winter, and the tour has grown over the years. Last season had more registered pro skiers than ever before, and the number of female athletes increased significantly. In addition, there was a record number of pro teams, 32, fighting for glory in 12 events. The Season X will have the same amount of races, but there is a new event taking place in Italy in mid-December, La Venosta, limited to 500 start places only. Don't miss out taking part in the first edition of this new event, registrations are open.
The pro tour alone is not the only one expanding and reaching for greater heights as the new initiative Visma Ski Classics Challengers series was announced this spring offering a chance for all ski events in the world to join the fun. And not just events on snow but the ones that bask in the heat of the summer can also enter the series. There are now three roller-ski events in the Challengers calendar; Alliansloppet in Sweden, Aug.17, Gautefallrennet in Norway, Aug. 31, and Klarälvsloppet in Sweden, Sept. 22. Alliansloppet is the first event in the Challengers series that now has 10 registered races and more are signing in as we speak.
A Challengers event must be at least 30 km in length, and the season starts on May 1st and goes all the way to the spring finishing just five days before the finale of Visma Ski Classics; in 2020, Ylläs-Levi on April 4. Pro skiers can collect points in Challengers events by including their best single result into the Visma Ski Classics pro tour points (50 max). The best 25 skiers are awarded with points. The podium skiers can get some prize money as well since the events in the Challengers series need to guarantee a minimum prize fund of 2,000 € to be divided between the men’s and women’s top skiers. There are certain other criteria that each joining event needs to comply with and you read more about the rules at https://vismaskiclassics.com/the-tour/challengers/.
This Saturday, the first event of the Visma Ski Classics Challengers series is going to take place in Trollhättan, Sweden. The elite women start at 1:40 pm local time and the elite men at 1:55 pm. Alliansloppet is a 48 km fast-paced roller-ski race attracting all the best Visma Ski Classics pro athletes and many other elite skiers. The race is a part of a 10-day sport festival with a mountain bike race, a trail run and various shorter roller-ski events.
The Alliansloppet course is quite flat with a 16-km loop that the racers do three times, and the fastest winning time in history is about 1 hour and 41 minutes. As of today, there are about 1,000 registered participants and a few hundred more are expected to sign in before the start. There are 16 nationalities, and the most exotic participants come from Japan and Israel. Besides Sweden, which is the home country for the event, Norway leads the registration numbers (18%). An amazing fact is that every fourth roller-skier is a foreigner (26%). The race is also part of the Guide World Classic Tour, a competitive roller-ski race series with events in Norway and Sweden.
“We are really looking forward to the 12thedition of the Alliansloppet roller-ski race,” Baptiste Noel, the communication director of the event, says enthusiastically. “I think we’re going to have a big party, a real folk-fest here in Sweden, and I anticipate a huge crowd to come and see the festivities this weekend. We’ll put up a good show, and Alliansloppet Action Week is truly much more than just roller-skiing – it’s a wonderful Swedish celebration at the tail end of the summer!”
On Friday, we will take a closer look at the potential favorites, but it’s worth mentioning that all the heroes of the Visma Ski Classics pro tour are present including Tord Asle Gjerdalen, Andreas Nygaard, Petter Eliassen, Anders Aukland, Morten Eide Pedersen, Anders Mølmen Høst, Britta Johansson Norgren, Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes, Lina Korsgren, Maria Gräfnings and Astrid Øyre Slind – just to name a few. In addition to our superstars, there are some other interesting names in the mix such as last year’s winners Håvard Taugbøl and Linn Sömskar, Calle Halfvarsson, Andrew Musgrave, Hanna Falk and many more. Alliansloppet will certainly be an action-packed roller-ski race from start to finish.