By Teemu Virtanen
Visma Ski Classics is now in its ninth season, but long distance skiing as a race form has existed for decades. There are many legendary race winners whose achievements in Vasaloppet, Marcialonga, Birkebeinerrennet and in many other events are still fresh in our memory. An image of the true legend Nils “Mora-Nisse” Karlsson, who won Vasaloppet the record nine times, is still vivid in everyone’s mind, at least with the older generation.
But who is the number one living legend and still skiing? This Trivial Pursuit question shouldn’t take too long to answer as it is quite obvious; Anders Aukland, Team Ragde Eiendom. He has 16 victories during his long career; 9 wins under the official Ski Classics banner and 7 before the year 2011.
He is followed by two other legends; Seraina Boner, Team Jobstation Rossignol, and Stanislav Rezac, Slavia Pojistovna Team. The former has 15 wins, they are all in or after 2011, and the latter has 14 number one spots, of which only three have been achieved in the official Ski Classics races. These two athletes are still racing, but the odds are against them when we are speculating about potential race winners this season.
There is one skier, however, who is most likely going to reach the top position. That is the undisputed Queen of the sport Britta Johansson Norgren, Lager 157 Ski Team. She now is tied with Seraina with her 15 wins. If she wins Kaiser Maximilian Lauf this Saturday, she will share the highest position with Anders on the Hall of Legends. And no one would be surprised to see her passing the Norwegian cross-country ski hero as it is quite likely that Britta will win more races this season. The 46-year old grand-old-man Anders still has a chance to win more races since he was on the podium four times last season (third every time). Who knows – maybe even this weekend?
Finally, how does one become a Visma Ski Classics Legend? Quite simple, he or she needs to win five events, and the ones before the Ski Classics brand was created for the season one in 2011 count as well. It may sound simple, but to win that many races takes time and effort, and not to forget enormous amount of talent. You can see the complete list of all 16 legends in our Pro Skiing magazine – there are some familiar names there.