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This Is How Marcialonga Revolutionized Long-Distance Skiing

On Sunday, January 29, Marcialonga will be held for the 50th time. The classic race in Northern Italy has been a driving force for the development and innovation in long-distance skiing.

Photo: Magnus Östh/Ski Classics

Ski Classics Legend Anders Aukland, Team Ragde Charge, puts Marcialonga, the first of the four Grand Classics in the Pro Tour series, into perspective as a driving force for development and innovation in long-distance skiing.  

Marcialonga is celebrating its 50th edition this year, and cross-country skiing has changed drastically during that time regarding equipment, training, technique, and tactics. 

“Marcialonga is perhaps the ski race that more than any other race has contributed to the development of skiing,” says Anders Aukland to Langrenn.com, and continues: 

“It was in Marcialonga that you first started to ski without kick wax and double pole up the hills where before you would use diagonal striding. The reason is that the race invites you to do it: the gentle course with a finish line with an uphill,” says Aukland.

He points out that the course at the start in Moena at 08:00 CET is quite different than it is with the sun, up the Cascata climb towards the finish line three or four hours later. 

“These made some skiers change their training quite a bit: they saw how important it was to do double poling intervals and run hard sessions on uphills. For those who were further ahead, this development started in 2003, when Jørgen Aukland became the first to win Marcialonga on skis without kick wax. 

The article continues below

Jørgen Aukland won Marcialonga 2003.

Innovation and Equipment Development

Marcialonga has contributed to innovation and equipment development on several levels: skis, poles, and ski boots, drinking and nutrition systems, tactics, and technique. 

“With narrow trails and high speed through villages and under bridges, higher boots with more support provided more control and better balance. That’s why some skiers started using skiathlon boots in Marcialonga early on,” says Aukland, and continues:

“Drinking belts with a hose picked up or dropped along the way were introduced here. The same with long poles. Skating poles were tested and proved to give an advantage in the final uphill.”

Team tactics also became visible and common in Marcialonga before being used in any other ski race.

Jørgen Aukland, Jerry Ahrlin, and Tord Asle Gjerdalen are the ones I believe have been pioneers in these areas.

The article continues below

Tord Asle Gjerdalen has won Marcialonga three times and has the 70km long classic in northern Italy as one of his biggest highlights of the winter.

The World’s Most Advanced Snow Production

Climate change with increasingly warmer winters, less snow, and a greater risk of a lack of snow has contributed to innovation in snow production. Here, too, Marcialonga has been a motivator for development. 

Marcialonga was organized for the first time in 1971, and only three times the race had to be canceled: 1975, 1989, and 1990. The lack of snow was the main reason for canceling the races. 

Now the race organizer has invested in the industry’s most advanced snowmaking equipment. Earlier this autumn, the organizing committee guaranteed that the 70-kilometer-long classic race would be covered with snow and carried out regardless of natural snowfall. 

The Season XIV of Ski Classics Pro Tour consists of 14 events on 10 event weekends in 6 different countries. 

Ski Classics Pro Tour Season XIV (2022/2023)

  • Event 1: December 10, 2022 – Bad Gastein PTT, Bad Gastein, Austria, 15km
  • Event 2: December 11, 2022 – Bad Gastein Criterium, Bad Gastein, Austria, 35km
  • Event 3: December 17, 2022 – La Venosta Criterium, Val Venosta, Italy, 36km 
  • Event 4: January 14, 2023 – Pustertaler Ski Marathon, Sexten, Italy, 62km
  • Event 5: January 15, 2023 – Prato Piazza Mountain Challenge, Niederdorf, Italy, 32km
  • Event 6: January 21, 2023 – Engadin La Diagonela, Engadin Valley, Switzerland, 48km 
  • Event 7: January 29, 2023 – Marcialonga, Trentino, Italy, 70km
  • Event 8: February 12, 2023 – Jizerská50, Bedrichov, Czech Republic, 50km
  • Event 9: February 18, 2023 – Grönklitt Criterium, Orsa Grönklitt, Sweden, 50km
  • Event 10: February 19, 2023 – Grönklitt ITT, Orsa Grönklitt, Sweden, 15km
  • Event 11: March 5, 2023 – Vasaloppet, Sälen-Mora, Sweden, 90km
  • Event 12: March 18, 2023 – Birkebeinerrennet, Rena-Lillehammer, Norway, 54km
  • Event 13: April 1, 2023 – Reistadløpet, Setermoen-Bardufoss, Norway, 40km
  • Event 14: April 2, 2023 – Summit 2 Senja, Bardufoss- Finnsnes, Norway, 67km

More information about the Ski Classics Pro Tour you can find at skiclassics.com.

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