By Teemu Virtanen
Tomorrow, Visma Ski Classics Season X returns to action in Italy when the Livigno Prologue, 35 km individual mass start race, takes place at 9:20 am CET with the women’s race and 11:15 am CET with the men.
The Prologue course uses the same 5 km lap that was used in Pro Team Tempo on Friday with a Sprint on the second and third lap (10 km / 15 km). Then, an extra hill is added, and that longer lap is used three times with a Climb on the fourth and fifth lap (21 km / 28 km). There is also a new 2 km start loop to allow skiers to be spread out before embarking on the normal course.
Last year, the Visma Ski Classics Hertz Champion Britta Johansson Norgen, Lager 157 Ski Team, won the women’s race followed by Astrid Øyre Slind, Team Koteng, and Justyna Kowalczyk, Team Trentino Robinson Trainer. Both Britta and Astrid are present to fight for the win, and they are the favorites in tomorrow’s race. But Team Ragde Eiendom’s two young new athletes Emilie Fleten and Thea Krukan Murud worked well together on Friday and showed that they are strong skiers with a capacity for success.
Lina Korsgren, Team Ramudden, Katerina Smutná, ED System Bauer Team, and Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes, Team Koteng, are other possible podium skiers, but most likely no one can push Britta and Astrid away from the podium. It is expected that these two skiers will set things in motion right from the beginning and attack even before the first sprint point.
We all remember how Team BN Bank managed to get a quadruple victory last year. Øystein Pettersen returned to winning form, Morten Eide Pedersen was 2nd, Simen Østensen 3rd and Petter Eliassen 4th. Their team has now retired, and Simen quit skiing while Øystein is still around but focusing only on a couple of races representing Team Kafferbryggeriet.
However, both Petter and Morten will race tomorrow for their new teams; Eliassen for Team Ragde Eiendom and Eide Pedersen for Team Kaffebryggeriet. And both of them are in great shape and ready to fight for the podium. As a matter of fact, Petter was extremely strong in Pro Team Tempo and clocked the fastest male time. His teammate and last season’s Hertz Champion Andreas Nygaard, Team Ragde Eiendom, had a tough day on the tracks on Friday, but he will try his best tomorrow even if high altitude is not really his forte.
The whole Ragde Eiendom team seems to be in a fighting mood, and we can expect any one of them to be on the podium, particularly Tord Asle Gjerdalen and Oskar Kardin. With their third best male time on Friday, Team Kaffebryggeriet showed that they are serious contenders for greatness this season, and Vetle Thyli may right now be in the best shape of his life. Anyone from Lager 157 Ski Team’s male skiers can also be on the podium since their performance on Friday was extremely brilliant, only five seconds behind Team Ragde Eiendom. But they still need to step up and beat their Norwegian rivals!
The weather has been really great in Livigno, and today was extremely sunny. The night is going to be quite cold, but it is probably going to snow tomorrow. The weather forecast predicts snowfall with precipitation of 0.9 mm or above, light breeze 2-3 m/s from south-southeast and temperatures from – 6 to – 7 C.