By Teemu Virtanen
Team XPND has expanded, and there are now eight athletes in this Norwegian team. Their grand goal is to have one of the strongest female teams in Visma Ski Classics. But to do that they still need to raise the stakes. The ladies in the team performed quite decently last season, but to quote the famous rock song; there is a long way to the top if you want to, well, ski.
Ingebor Dahl didn’t do that many races last winter, and Kaiser Maximilian Lauf’s 18th place was her best. However, she was really strong on roller-skis during the off-season by finishing 3rd at Gautefallrennet and 5th at Klarälvsloppet, both Visma Ski Classics Challengers events. Oda Nerdrum didn’t succeed that well in the winter, but she also performed well at those two roller-ski events; 4th at Gautefallrennet and 9th at Klarälvsloppet. Marie Renèe Sørum Gangsø can be a top 10 finisher if everything goes according to her plan, and Elin Hagavoid seems to do only Vasaloppet every year, 14th last season.
There are four male skiers in the team, but they are on a rocky road to the top. Kristoffer Nielsen and Erlend Widerøe Hennig managed to push themselves into the top 50; Nielsen 47th at Jizerska 50 and Henning 39th in the same race and he was also 49th at Vasaloppet. Harvol Kørbol Thoner finished 61st at Birkebeinerrennet and got the same place in the 50 km race at the Norwegian National Championships while Thomas Ødegaarden managed to be 189th at Birkebeinerrennet.