The world’s biggest roller-ski race, to quote the organizers, Alliansloppet, 48 km, took place in Sweden yesterday (Saturday, Aug. 25). Like in so many roller-ski events, the fight for glory was extremely fierce as 11 male skiers finished within 5 seconds. The first place went to Håvard Taugbøl, a stranger among the Visma Ski Classics skiers, but right behind him there were quite many familiar faces and some surprises as well.
Anders Mølmen Høst, Team Serneke, who has been really strong this summer, was second only 0.31 seconds behind the winner and Stian Hoelgaard, Team Koteng, managed to improve from his last races and out-performed all his teammates by far with his 4thplace. Torfleif Syrstad was 23rd, John Kristian Dahl and Tore Bjorseth Berdalwere far behind about 5 minutes slower than the fastest skier.
Tord Asle Gjerdalen, Team Ragde Eiendom, crossed the finish line on 13thplace. However, his performance cannot be described as a catastrophe since his margin to the race victory was only 22 seconds. His teammate, the living legend, Anders Aukland was 18thand found himself 2.5 minutes behind the winner.
The most intriguing aspect of the race was that there were skiers from lesser-known teams in the top 10 when Team Telemark’s Runar Skaug Mathisen and Team Parkettpartner’s Vinjar Skogsholm finished 5thand 6th, respectively. Even Thomas Gjestrumbakken, Team Parkettpartner, was able to finish as the 15thfastest skier. Lager 157 Ski Team and Team BN Bank managed to have two skiers in the top 15 while Team Tynell and Team Kaffebryggeriet had both one skier among the 15 quickest finishers (see results below).
The women’s race was quite interesting because there were only two familiar Visma Ski Classics names in the top 10; Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes(4th), Team Ragde Eiendom, and Astrid Øyre Slind (8th), Team Koteng, and both Britta Johansson Norgren, Lager 157 Ski Team, and Lina Korsgren, Team Brunbergs, were more than three minutes behind the winner Linn Sömskar.
A real stunner was the fact that Team Parkettpartner also succeeded really well in the women’s race when Maria Gräfnings finished 5thonly 8 seconds behind the fastest woman. Another surprise was to see Elin Mohlin (11th) beat her teammate and the reigning queen of the sport Britta Johnsson Norgren.
As we are now leaving the heat of the summer behind and setting our sights on the fall season and the Visma Ski Classics IX tour, the greatest takeaway from Alliansloppet is the strong overall performance of Team Parkettpartner.
This team will be strong come the winter, and we will most probably see many new young faces in the top 10 both in men’s and women’s categories. Naturally, it would be unwise to draw firm conclusions from roller-ski races, but nevertheless our veterans should watch out for Runar, Vinjar, Maria and such as they might break through big time in 2019. Without a doubt, the Visma Ski Classics Season IX will be an exciting story to come.