After two changes of course length due to challenging weather conditions during the week, today, the men started at 8:30 CET and the women at 8:35 CET. We saw a thrilling race among men and women despite the reduced distance.
Årefjällsloppet Men’s Race
Known for having a bit of everything a long-distance skier could hope for, with demanding climbs, flat sections, beautiful sceneries, and a great atmosphere, Årefjällsloppet started fast from the gun.
With just over 10km into the race, the field quickly diminished with about 19 strong skiers in front, with Runar Skaug Mathisen, Lager 157 Ski Team, and Stian Berg, Team Kaffebryggeriet, stretching the group and aiming for the Sprint of the day.
At the only Sprint checkpoint of the day, 18km into the race, Stian Berg, Team Kaffebryggeriet, attacked the group and crossed first, followed by Emil Persson, Lager 157 Ski Team, and Oskar Kardin, Team Ragde Charge.
Johan Hoel, Team Ragde Charge, and Runar Skaug Mathisen, Lager 157 Ski Team, attacked with 45km to go. They got a couple of seconds from the field, playing the game, preparing the race for their leaders, and shrinking the front group.
At the first Climb checkpoint of the day at the 30.2km mark, 14 skiers passed within 14.8 seconds, with Johannes Eklöf, Team Ramudden, followed by Tord Asle Gjerdalen, Team XPND Fuel, and Axel Jutterström, Team Eksjöhus.
In between the two Climb points, the race was on fire, with Runar Skaug Mathisen, Lager 157 Ski Team, and Kasper Stadaas, Team Ragde Charge, attacking and quickly getting 29 seconds of a gap over the reduced chasing field of 8 skiers at the bottom of the second climb point.
With 10km to go, the second Climb checkpoint saw Runar Skaug Mathisen, Lager 157 Ski Team, crossing first and getting maximum points, followed by Kasper Stadaas, Team Ragde Charge, and Johannes Eklöf, Team Ramudden, in third, 7.7 seconds behind.
With about 8km to go, in the rolling sections towards the finish, Stadaas could attack and create a gap of 7 seconds over Skaug Mathisen and 16 seconds over the group.
With about 2.5km to go, Stadaas looked strong and increased his lead, checking the chasing group and leaving the group fighting for the last podium place.
At the end, Kasper Stadaas, Team Ragde Charge, won Årefjällsloppet after an impressive breakaway. Second place went to Runar Skaug Mathisen, Lager 157 Ski Team, 34.7 seconds back. Emil Persson, Lager 157 Ski Team, sprinted for the third position on the podium, 54.0 seconds behind the winner.
Årefjällsloppet Women’s Race
In the women’s race, which started at 8:35 CET, the speed was high right out from the start, with a big group leading the race.
After just 4km into the race, Ida Dahl, Team Ramudden, had problems with her skis and was already struggling at the beginning of the race. Meanwhile, Emilie Fleten, Team XPND Fuel, controlled the pace and stretched the field.
Soon, a small group of skiers was formed, and within 10km into the race, four skiers were in front: Astrid Øyre Slind, Team Koteng Eidissen, Emilie Fleten, Team XPND Fuel, Britta Johansson Norgren, Lager 157 Ski Team, and Lina Korsgren, Team Ramudden.
In the Sprint Checkpoint, at the 18km mark, Lina Korsgren crossed first, getting maximum points, followed by Astrid Øyre Slind and Britta Johansson Norgren.
With 33km to go, Øyre Slind pushed the pace and got a considerable gap in front of Korsgren and Johansson Norgren, with Fleten some more seconds back. Ida Dahl reacted after her ski problem but could reduce her deficit to 1 minute and 7 seconds.
At the first Climb point, Astrid Øyre Slind crossed first, getting the maximum points, 44.8 seconds ahead of Britta Johansson Norgren and 55.1 seconds from Emilie Fleten.
With 23km to go, Dahl could close the gap to Johansson Norgren and Fleten, showing that her top form is back, despite her technical problem at the beginning of the race.
At the second Climb of the day, within 10km to go, Astrid Øyre Slind crossed first, followed by Britta Johansson Norgre in second, and Ida Dahl, Team Ramudden, in the third position, both more than 4 minutes behind the leader.
From there, the women’s race was about Øyre Slind in the lead and the chasers behind. With about 5km to go, Øyre Slind had a gap of 4:15 over Johansson Norgren and 4:25 over Dahl.
In the end, Astrid Øyre Slind, Team Koteng Eidissen, had a perfect solo breakaway, winning this year’s Årefjällsloppet.
Second place went to Britta Johansson Norgren, Lager 157 Ski Team, 4:18.3 back. In the third position, Ida Dahl, Team Ramudden completed the podium, 4:49.0 behind the winner.
Årefjällsloppet results can be found here.
Next up in the Visma Ski Classics is Reistadløpet. The 50-kilometer classic long-distance race takes place in Setermoen-Bardufoss, Norway, on April 2, 2022.
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