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Celebrated Starting Field For Birkebeinerrennet

This year’s Birkebeinerrennet will be perhaps the most star-studded ever. Here are some of the top traditional cross-country skiers at the starting line.

Photo: Johanna Lundberg/Bildbyrån

Therese Johaug is just one of the top cross-country skiers starting at Saturday's Birkebeinerrennet.

Since the World Cup final in Tyumen was canceled and no replacement was put in place, there are no longer any World Cup races next weekend. It opens the door for many World Cup cross-country skiers to go to Birkebeinerrennet on Saturday.

Therese Johaug is, of course, the biggest name on the starting line. She has completed her last World Cup race but has several weekends with National Championships, Birken, Reistadløpet, and Skarverennet on the program before her career is finally over. The last time Johaug started at Birken, she won and set a new course record. Will she do the same this year?

As a skier for Team Ragde Charge on Saturday, Johaug will once again be a teammate of Marit Bjørgen. 

Bjørgen missed Marcialonga and Jizerska due to covid but was back with a sixth place in Vasaloppet. Now she is ready for Birken. She had only raced once before when she finished 13th in 2002. That year, Birken was included in the World Cup.

The Holmenkollen 50km winner, Martin Løwstrøm Nyenget, has been announced for a start, as has Didrik Tønseth, who won the season’s last individual World Cup race in Falun on Saturday. 

Both skiers have previously raced long-distance this season and represent Team Eksjöhus and Team Engcon. Nyenget has even been on the podium in Visma Ski Classics twice earlier this year and will be among the top favorites.

Sivert Wiig is another World Cup skier who has performed well the last few weekends. He has become number four in the previous two sprints in the World Cup and is trying his hand at a much longer distance on Saturday. Teammates at Team Elon Vest, Gaute Kvåle, will also start. Kvåle showed a top performance this summer when he won Lysebotn Opp during the Blink Festival. The winter has also been good, but it has not been good enough to go to the World Cup.

The Americans will bring more skiers to Rena on Saturday morning. Rosie Brennan is the biggest star and brings Rosie Frankowski and Scott Patterson, who were on the USA’s winning team in the mixed relay in Falun on Sunday.

The British team presents both Andrew Musgrave, Team Næringsbanken, and James Clugnet, Slavia Pojišťovna Sport Team.

Tiril Udnes Weng is registered and ready to go over the hills, the same for the national teammate Heidi Weng. Ragnhild Haga is a skier outside the Norwegian national team but who has still gone to the Olympics and a lot of World Cups this season. She will reinforce Team Kaffebryggeriet and is ready to compete against the best long-distance skiers.

The Swedes have three strong names in Poromaa, Burman, and Svensson. Poromaa has been in excellent shape during and after the Olympics and is one of the traditional skiers who should have the highest hopes. He took the first podium of his career in Lahti, and in Holmenkollen, he was number five. Burman and Svensson have not been as good this year as last year but are strong skiers who can be in front for a long time.

Finnish veteran Anne Kyllönen is on the starting line for Team Mäenpää. So does the Czech World Cup skier Katerina Janatova, who was in the Lahti sprint semifinals just over two weeks ago.

Maren Wangensteen, who won the 10km classic race during last weekend’s Norwegian Cup, is registered. Mikael Gunnulfsen won the sprint in Steinkjer and was high up in the 15km classic. He was on the podium at La Diagonela earlier this year and is an impressive skier who can fight for the victory.

In addition to all the mentioned cross-country skiers, we must not forget all the commonly known names from Visma Ski Classics Pro Tour such as Andreas Nygaard, Team Ragde Charge; Astrid Øyre Slind, Team Koteng Eidissen; Britta Johansson Norgren and Emil Persson, Lager 157 Ski Team; Tord Asle Gjerdalen and Emilie Fleten, Team XPND Fuel; Max Novak and Ida Dahl, Team Ramudden; Stian Hoelgaard, Team Curira; and Axel Jutterström, Team Eksjöhus; just to name a few.

BIRKEBEINERRENNET 

  • Date: Saturday, March 19
  • Place: Rena-Lillehammer, Norway
  • Distance: 54km Classic Technique
  • Start Times: 7:45 CET Men / 8:00 CET Women

Next up in the Visma Ski Classics is Birkebeinerrennet. The 54-kilometer classic race takes place in Norway on March 19, 2022.

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