FIS Marathon Cup: Two weeks until La Sgambeda kicks off new season
After the FIS Cross Country World Cup got underway this past weekend, it will soon also be time for the long distance racers and their FIS Marathon Cup to get into start position for their first race of this Olympic season. This season, 8 races - 3 in classic technique and 5 in skating technique - will form the long distance skiing cup.
Traditionally the race which welcomes all long distance passionates for the season opener is La Sgambeda, the 42km long race in the valley around Livigno in Italy, close to the Engadin in Switzerland, where in March, the last race of the FIS Marathon Cup season will be held. This year, the FIS Marathon Cup takes a little break over Christmas and New Year until it gets underway again in full speed on January 19 with the Dolomitenlauf in Lienz, Austria. Even though everybody hopes every year again that the race can be held on the original 60km track in the valley, it is most likely that the race will be held again on the 42km track in Obertilliach – like in the past years – as snow availability is ensured at this height especially through the biathlon and cross country training and competition centre. Like every year, the Dolomitensprint will welcome all Dolomitenlauf elite athletes to rival with the world's best sprinters on the city course of Lienz on Friday before the race. One weekend later, it's time for the traditional Marcialonga – the 70km classic technique race from Moena to Cavalese, from Val di Fassa into Val di Fiemme. This year's competition is held just before the FIS Nordic Junior & U23 World Ski Championships which happen on the ground of last year's FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.
The FIS Marathon Cup takes another little break of one weekend and continues with the prestigious La Transjurassienne on February 9. The 76km long race from Lamoura in the Département Jura to Mouthe in the one of Doubs is held in skating technique and is asking a lot of the racers who are in return rewarded with outstanding feeding stations and animations along the track. A view onto the known “home hill” of World and Olympic Champion in Nordic Combined, Jason Lamy Chappuis, in Chaux-Neuve is included as well. La Transjurassienne is also the only FIS Marathon Cup in which the ladies' course is shorter than the men's one: While the guys ski 76km and start in Lamoura, the girls do 57km with a start in Les Rousses. From France, the FIS Marathon Cup travels North-East to Estonia and the Tartu Maraton. This 63km long race in classic technique is seen as the perfect warm up for the Vasaloppet at the beginning of March and a perfect option to test one's form. From Otepää to Elva, this race through the Estonian hills and flat pastures is an event everybody should participate in at least once!
After the Tartu Maraton, it's time for the FIS Marathon Cup to jump over the great ocean and take stage in Hayward / Cable for the American Birkebeiner. The “American Birkie” is the only race in which classic and skating skiers almost ski together for the entire length of the track. However, the FIS Marathon Cup athletes get their points by taking part in the 50km skating technique race. Arriving on Main Street in Hayward, the finish of this race is certainly, apart from the one of the Marcialonga, the most impressive and most festive one of the whole FIS Marathon Cup circuit.
Back in Europe, the Cup heads to Poland and the Bieg Piastow which is holding a FIS Marathon Cup for the first time in its history. The 50km classic technique race, which takes place at the same venue where only weeks before the FIS Cross Country World Cup is staged, runs only some kilometres away form the border to the Czech Republic. Already arrived in March, the FIS Marathon Cup gets into its final stage and with it almost back to where it all started in December. The Engadin Skimarathon awaits the athletes with a 42km skating technique race from Maloja to S-Chanf after which the queen and the king of marathon skiing are crowned as the winners of the overall FIS Marathon Cup 2013/14.
The complete FIS Marathon Cup calendar can be found here.