The most famous ski marathon - Vasaloppet - we managed sucessfully! The entire team on points, Ilya on stage with a great 6th place, Monique top ten ... perfect premiere for both!
I've had it pretty tough... after Friday's relay at World Championship in Lahti I shifted to Helsinki, by plane to Oslo and around 1h morning I arrived to Sälen - the starting point of the famous Vasaloppet. After this travel and the previous races at the World Championships in Lahti is probably understandable that I skipped skiing on Saturday, conserve energy and choice of skis for race relied on the service team. I was not really happy with stronger snowfall on Saturday, but the day before the race it is already quite time pressed, making final preparations in harness, the official team meeting and then even our own within the team…for any more nervousness was not even time ;-)
Saturday's start at 8.00 meant getting up a little earlier than usual, service team was on track after 4.h morning already and completed the final tests, athletes had breakfast at 5:50 and at 6:20 we were already on the way to start. Although we live 5km from the start, the trafic jam already in this time it´s normal, fortunately our service teamfound bypass route, so we reached start well in advance.
At the start was again incredible feeling to have in our back around 16,000 runners, who will start at the same time. For me, even a little fear that I choosed after racing on MS; training, which was aimed purely to WCH and therefore without any doublepoling training in winter; unnecessarily long race to attend the premiere of my doublepoling ski marathon (35km LaSgambeda I´m not counting ;-)) ... well let's see ...
Surprisingly, everything went without any major problems and after first 500 meters I´ve got into the good pace and had no major problems prosecute. First hill also without any problems, until I surprisingly found, that our group escaped after a few kilometers ;-). Around 25.kilometr Ilya asked me what happend that there is not yellow bib holder Gjerdalen with us (actually, nobody from Santander), but I assured him that they will arrive ... ;-) Yes, a lot of experience playing a role and we still need to collect them. By missing the entire team Santander, it was clear that either it is a tactic, or they were waiting for him to help him if something happened. Around 30.kilometr the pace slowed down and very soon came a group with team Santander, Stanislav Rezac, Petr Novak or gratifying for us and Jan Srail. In the course with occasional minor crisis or trouble came in the form of frozen Camelback, but on the other feeding station I´ve got it back now thawed and actually the whole race we had great support by our service team.
Roughly 25 kilometers to the finish I dropped out of the leading group in a long descent, and I had no chance to go back there. Then helped me skiing with Italian Bruno Debertolis and in the last 15 kilometers I overtook several competitors. It was a solid 37.place for me in the finish and I was happy that my fears have been not confirmed, and I survived ;-) race done only doublepoling , but also enjoyed Ilya´s great 6th place (the finish I had to see several times in the last week ;-)); 15th place of Markus , Jan´s 43.place, but also a great Monique´s 10th place for which he had to be Vasaloppet extremely difficult. Although she said in the finish NEVER MORE VASALOPPET!!!, but I believe that she will be at the Vasaloppet start again in next years ... ;-)…like everybody who took part! ;-)
Currently norwegian Birkebeiner is in front of us, where - according to legend – we have to ski with 3.5 kg backpack, which is scheduled on Saturday. Unlike me, which I had lazy time from Vasaloppet ;-), other athletes not only trained, but also raced well. Ilya raced yesterday skimaraton Engadin (skating) and finished in an excellent 3rd place behind Cologna and Gloersenem; Martin Jaks, who will debut in our „colors“ at Birkebeiner won the Slavic Cup race and there have done well also Adam Fellner ... Then we are looking forward to next SkiClassics race!