Official event press release:
This was definitely one of the most exciting marathon skiing races this season! 13.000 skiers celebrated the 44th edition of the American Birkebeiner, and obviously everyone was happy to have the Birkie back, after the cancellation last year. Literally the whole town is at the finish lane in Hayward or out at the tracks to cheer for the skiers. They enjoyed a great race in a wonderful sunny winter day & on perfectly groomed and firm tracks. During the night it was clear, hence very cold with temperatures around minus 20 but with the morning sun it was getting warmer and warmer. The American Birkebeiner counts as the 5th FIS Worldloppet Cup stage, so the elite race was an exciting one. This definitely was the strongest elite field this winter, both for ladies & for men.
WINNING MEN AT THE 44TH AMERICAN BIRKEBEINER
The freezing temperatures around -20 degrees during the night ensured a very fast race when it comes down to the conditions, but the elite skiers were not hurrying in the beginning of the race. The real action in the men's competition started only after 45 km, about 5 km before the Birkie International Bridge & the famous finish lane on Hayward's main road. Before that the leading group, if we could call it so, was consisting out of approximately 30 skiers, with around 10 skiers doing the leading work. The Norwegian guy in the green suite, Anders Gloersen, the French marathon skiers, Benoit Chauvet, Loic Guigonnet and others were leading the pack through the North Woods between Cable & Hayward. But then, the closer they came to the finish, the more they increased the pace and the action started. 10 athletes came over the bridge with a chance to be on top in the end, sprinting for the victory, among them the skiers from Team Jobstation Rossignol & Team Haute Savoie Nordic. It turned out to be Anders Gloersen, the Norwegian Worldchampion, who crossed the finish line first, only 2 seconds ahead of Ivan Perrillat-Boiteux and 3,4 seconds ahead of the first US-skier, Kyle Bratrud.
"It was not easy to calculate my race today, since there were a lot US-skiers that I don't know & the French skiers who I do know, and I know I had to watch out for them. So I just tried to stay in front of the pack, to react to attacks. In the end I got the second position on the bridge, which is perfect for the finish. It was a great race, good conditions, sunny weather.", said Anders Gloersen, today's winner at the press conference.
After this race only one single point is separating the 1st and 2nd in the overall ranking of the FIS Worldloppet Cup. Gerard Agnellet defended his red bib and remains on the top position, but his team mate Ivan Perrillat-Boiteux is catching up and is now only one point behind him. 3rd position at the moment is also in Team Haute Savoie Nordic: Loic Guigonnet.
Results of the American Birkebeiner 2018 - men (click for full results)
1st - Anders Gloersen (NOR) - Rustad IL
2nd - Ivan Perrillat-Boiteux (FRA) - Haute Savoie Nordic Team
3rd - Kyle Bratrud (USA)
4th - Adrien Mougel (FRA) - Jobstation Rossignol Team
5th - David Norris (USA)
6th - Bastien Poirrier (FRA) - Haute Savoie Nordic Team
FIS Worldloppet Cup overall ranking men after 5 of 7 stages (click for full standings)
1st - Gerard Agnellet (FRA, Nordic Team Haute-Savoie) - 321 points
2nd - Ivan Perrillat-Boiteux (FRA, Nordic Team Haute-Savoie) - 320 points
3rd - Loic Guigonnet (FRA, Nordic Team Haute-Savoie) - 201 points
WINNING LADIES AT THE 44TH AMERICAN BIRKEBEINER
In the ladies' race we saw some history written! The ladies' started 20 minutes before the men, which turned out to be perfect timing. Only 4 kilometers, right before it goes over the lake Hayward, the elite men were catching up with the leading women pack, including Caitlin Gregg & Chelsea Holmes, both US & Aurelie Dabudyk (FRA) & Maria Gräfnings from Sweden. Of course, Gregg was the biggest favourite of these 4, as a 4 times winner here in Hayward, but also Dabudyk, as FIS Worldloppet Cup leader & Maria Gräfnings, who just won the last stage in Tartu were able to win this 44th American Birkebeiner. So they came over the bridge together, with Caitlin Gregg in the leading position & she was able to keep it until she could raise here hands for the 5th time now as winner in Hayward, the finish of the American Birkebeiner. This 5th vicotry is now part of the history of the Birkie, since she is the first one to accomplish that. Only 2,5 seconds behind her the Swedish Worldloppet Cup skier, Maria Gräfnings & Chelsea Holmes (USA) were fighting for the second place. Holmes had to pay for her efforts out in the woods and over the bridge & couldn't fight Gräfnings anymore, so it was the Swede collecting the 80 points for the 2nd place & Holmes became 3rd.
"It feels amazing doing my 5th! For us it was a pretty high pace race. We four (speaking about Gräfnings, Dabudyk, Holmes & her) were working together, everone was doing the leading work, to separate us from the others behind us. I really appreciate skiing with them today, even when the men caught us we said 'no we are not skiing behind them, we are doing our own thing. I love that!", said Caitlin at the press conference.
The overall leader, Aurelie Dabudyk finished the race as 4th, 27 seconds behind, after letting the others go only 3 km before the finish. Now her lead in the overall ranking shrinks down to 10 points before Maria Gräfnings. Rahel Imoberdorf from Switzerland remains 3rd.
Results of the American Birkebeiner 2018 - women (click for full results)
1st - Caitlin Gregg (USA) - Team Gregg
2nd - Maria Graefnings (SWE) - SAS pro Team
3rd - Chelsea Holmes (USA)
4th - Aurelie Dabudyk (FRA) - Haute Savoie Nordic Team
5th - Marie Kromer (FRA) - Haute Savoie Nordic Team
6th - Anja Gruber (USA)
FIS Worldloppet Cup overall ranking women after 5 of 7 stages (click for full standings)
1st - Aurelie Dabudyk (FRA, Nordic Team Haute-Savoie) - 410 points
2nd - Maria Gräfnings (SWE, SAS Pro Team) - 400 points
3rd - Rahel Imoberdorf (SUI, SAS Pro Team) - 150 points
WORLDLOPPET TV - THE MAGAZIN SHOWING THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE AMERICAN BIRKEBEINER
Highlights and beautiful pictures are part of the next episode of worldloppetTV - the magazine. It will be online soon on www.worldloppet.com and on the Worldloppet Facebook channel.
WORLDLOPPET – THE WORLD OF MARATHON SKIING!!!
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