By Teemu Virtanen
Central-Europe has been hit with severe snowstorms causing traffic delays, race cancelations, closed roads and chaos at airports. König Ludwig Lauf, the biggest cross-country ski race in Germany, was also affected by the capricious mood of our dear Mother Nature as the Sunday’s 50 km classic race took place in challenging conditions. It started to snow at night before the race, and the snow kept falling down throughout the day, and there was a lot of it everywhere.
Many Visma Ski Classics pro teams chose to come to Oberammergau, the location of the race and the famous village where the Passion Play is performed every 10 years, because Toblach-Cortina was canceled. However, the journey from Italy to Germany turned out to be a nightmare for many as most of the roads and mountain passes were closed. Brenner Pass between Austria and Italy was closed causing a huge traffic block on the freeway towards Innsbruck. There were thousands of cars stuck on the freeway for the whole day. Amongst them our Visma Ski Classics pro teams and athletes.
Team BN Bank’s Morten Eide Pedersen and Team Kaffe Bryggeriet’s skiers arrived in Oberammergau at 1 am leaving them not much time for sleep. The race started at 9 am on Sunday, and as expected a huge group of skiers stayed together due to heavy snowing. Morten Eide Pedersen was the fastest skier in the sprint finish followed by Stanislav Řezáč, Slavia Pojistovna Sport Team. Damien Tarantola, E-Liberty Team, was third and Bruno Bebertolis’ protégé Francesco Ferrari 4th.
“It was good to have a race today, which served as a great preparation for Jizerska 50,” Pedersen said after the race while enjoying the after-race pasta. “It was a bit boring be in the group where nothing really happened. And I was freezing because the pace was so slow, and my baskets got full of wet snow making double-poling quite hard. But this is a good event and thanks to the organizers for putting this together in these tough conditions.”
Vetle Thyli finished 7th and said that he should have positioned himself much better before the finish.
“Last year’s winner Tore Bjørseth Berdal told me that I need to be the first one coming out of the final bridge before the stadium. I didn’t know that the exact length of the race was 48 km and I kept seeing signs that we still had 5 km to go. So, the finish came too early for me. I tried to pass Stanislav and the other guys before me, but the other tracks were untouched at the finish area and hence impossible to ski on as there was too much new snow. Our team just needed a race to get ready for the next weekend and this one served us well. And a lot of the Visma Ski Classics pro skiers were here, which made it fun to race here.”
Team Ramudden’s Lina Korsgren won the women’s competition and she stayed in the lead group almost to the end. She was only less than a minute behind the overall winner Pedersen. Maria Gräfnings was second and 7 seconds behind Korgren while Tatjana Mannima was third. Lina’sperfomance proved that she is a strong candidate to perform well in Jizerska next Sunday.
The next Visma Ski Classics event is Jizerska 50 in the Czech Republic on Sunday 10.