Text by André Santos
Picture by Nils Louna
The Visma Ski Classics circuit is growing stronger every season. Every year new Pro Teams are born and new athletes dream of competing amongst the best long distance skiers. Also, the number of different nationalities competing in the events is getting bigger. This season, for the first time, there will be a Belgian athlete in a Pro Team – Thibaut de Marre from Team Vercors Isere.
Thibaut de Marre shone last year during the FIS World Ski Championship in Seefeld, where he won the qualification race, showing he could compete among the cross-country skiing elite. After that glorious season, he decided to set his goals not only in the next Winter Olympics, but also in some Visma Ski Classics races.
“I will be at the starting line in Birkebeinerrennet. And in the future, I want to be at Marcialonga and Vasaloppet. These are magical races,” states Thibaut, after having been present in the Prologue race with Team Vercors Isere. “I loved it. Visma Ski Classics races are very attractive and they have very good vibes.”
“I started cross-country skiing at the age of 10 in France. At that time I didn't like, it was too hard. But eventually it became a big part of my life,” says the Belgian skier. Despite having some athletes competing at the highest level, it is not common to find Belgians taking cross-country skiing so seriously. Could that be a signal that the sport is becoming more popular in the chocolote country?
“I think the Belgian public doesn't know this sport. But that is why I am involved with the Belgian ski federation, to help to structure it and spread the knowledge I gained in France,” says Thibaut, also admiting that because of the lack of snow, it will never be a big sport in Belgium.
Thibaut de Marre is currently studying physics and earth sciences, but the University has structured his classes in order to let him train like any other elite cross-country skier. He trains 750 hours per year, doing cross-country skiing, roller-skiing, running, strenght training and beach volleyball. “My weeks have from 10 to 30 hours of training, and some of them are double poling. But not many, I am a defender of the diagonal stride,” states Thibaut.
When I asked him about his inspiration, he says that he loves Petter Northug. But he also have a great admiration for Petter Eliassen, Andreas Nygaard and Tord Asle Gjerdalen. And who doesn't? These great athletes help to spread the magic of long distance skiing to all places in the world.
We look forward to seeing Thibaut de Marre on the long uphill sections of Birkebeinerrennet and witnessing his climbing talent. We wish him luck for his future endeavors and welcome him with open arms to be part of the Visma Ski Classics family.