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Events & Results
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Visma Ski Classics Celebrates The 100th Event This Weekend

La Venosta Time Trial marks the 100th event since the start of the Pro Tour circuit in 2011. From the beginning, Visma Ski Classics has been an inspiring and professional platform for Pro Tour athletes and recreational skiers worldwide.

Photo: Visma Ski Classics/Magnus Östh

“Back in 2011, when we started up the Tour, event 100 seemed very far away. We have over the last 12 seasons, gained a lot of experience and have many fantastic memories. I like to thank you everyone; TV staff, Tour crew, Pro Teams, Athletes, and Events, which have been contributing to building the concept over the years, and a few of the ones from the first seasons are still around, no one mentioned, no one is forgotten! The fact is that Vasaloppet also have their 100th event anniversary this year, but I guess very few are around now that were there in 1922,” says David Nilsson, CEO, and founder of the Ski Classics concept.

Let’s look at the evolution that enabled Visma Ski Classics to reach Season XII and the 100th event. 

For David Nilsson, reaching the 100th event mark reflects a continuous improvement over the years.

“We work with the Japanese Kaizen philosophy, and it’s about constant development. All the time we need to adapt and make things a bit better, without losing what is good in our culture and history, trying to find small developments all the time. That’s why we tried to test some new formats, that’s part of the game. If you don’t develop, you are by definition, on an extinction road. We should always dare to try some novelties.”

Nilsson confirms that Visma Ski Classics events will stay true to their traditions.

“The Ski Classics concept and the Pro Tour will not dramatically change over the coming 100 events. We have built it towards what it is today and then fine-tune it. The Pro Tour is quite mature, compared to 100 events earlier. Maybe we have one more Pro Team Tempo and an Individual Time Trial, but mostly traditional long-distance events.”


When David Nilsson worked professionally with sports business, he asked himself why Vasaloppet was practically the only long-distance skiing race that was broadcast on TV. So, he started to sketch up his visions in what would be the Ski Classics today.

In 2007, he asked Vasaloppet’s former CEO Jonas Bauer if he wanted Vasaloppet to be broadcasted abroad, which happened already the year after. This was an important step in creating a long-distance circuit with TV production and making the viewers interested.

“The most important part of the philosophy was to combine winter nature and regional images with the sport; Tour de France meet BBC David Attenborough,” says David Nilsson.


In 2011, Visma Ski Classics was set with six races around Europe, all entirely broadcasted on TV. The events the first year were Jizerska, Marcialonga, König Ludwig Lauf, Vasaloppet, Birkebeinerrennet and Norefjellsrennet. In contrast to the competitions in FIS Marathon Cup, all events were in classic style.

“One of the most important parts of Visma Ski Classics is the commonality, with the same type of start numbers, jerseys, starting procedure, press conferences, graphics on the broadcasting, sponsors, Pro Team guidelines. The framework for all races is the same, which is appreciated by the Pro Tour athletes and the spectators on-site and in front of the TV. We also have a limited number of events so that all the best athletes can participate in all races”, says Nilsson.


The organization of Visma Ski Classics already had a vision in 2008 about becoming the World Championships for long-distance cross-country skiing. For Season XII, there are 276 Pro Team athletes registered in 35 Pro Teams. Visma Ski Classics Pro Teams are international, and many of them include several different nationalities.

Over the years, there has been an ongoing increase of Pro athletes from Norway, Sweden, and Finland, but also from non-Scandinavian countries. Visma Ski Classics gives great opportunities for continued growth worldwide for professional long-distance skiers.


Another thing that has changed since 2011 is the use of double-poling. In only a few years, almost all Pro Athletes switched to racing nearly all events without kickwax and double poling is now a central part of the sport. 

The double-poling evolution enabled the Pro Athletes to double-pole faster but also brought more information to the public regarding technique, equipment, and tactics, which made the sport more accessible for recreational skiers.


One unique part of Visma Ski Classics is that elite skiers and recreational skiers are on the same starting line.
“We have been doing a good job with the Pro Tour. There are 10-12 race weekends, 35 Pro Teams, athletes from different nationalities and cultures, better TV productions, a larger number of female Pro athletes, more youth skiers, and higher prize money.

In recent years we have focused more on giving the recreational skiers a better experience of the whole circuit, by introducing MyPages, Visma Ski Classics Fantasy, PLAY, and the Visma Ski Classics Challengers series.”


Nowadays, we see more and more strong athletes that transfer to long-distance skiing at an early age. Interest in the sport is growing and the number of youth skiers has been increasing over the years since the inception of Visma Ski Classics in 2011. 

This youth invasion spice up the competitions in the Pro Tour as young talents such as Max Novak, Ida Dahl, Herman Paus, Ida Palmberg, all from Team Ramudden, Axel Jutterström, Team Eksjöhus, and Julia Angelsiöö, Team Næringsbanken, manage to be among the best skiers in many races.


Nilsson’s vision inside the organization is to have a ‘Green and Equal Winter Sport’.

“The first part is to be Green. Green of course is about sustainability, but also health development and bringing people to do healthy activities. The second part is equality; our vision is to have a 50/50 split for women and men in the professional field, and we are on our way and also creating an including atmosphere.” 

When the Pro Tour started in 2011, the number of women was only 15%. The proportion of women has since increased year by year, and for Season XII there are so far 91 Pro Team female athletes, almost 40% of the total number of professional skiers.


The development of the sport, the Pro Tour, and the Challengers series is always of utmost importance for Visma Ski Classics. With constant interaction with Pro Teams, events, fans, and the public it’s possible to get relevant feedback in order to review and improve the rules and the nature of the sport.

  • Pro Teams must register two male and two female athletes for at least five events.
  • A new competition is introduced: Visma Grand Classics Trophy. Pro Team athletes can get points in all four Grand Classics events (Marcialonga, Jizerska 50, Vasaloppet, and Birkebeinerrennet) and fight for the overall victory within these four races. Athletes also receive higher points in these four races, e.g. 300 points for wins.
  • There are events with three different point categories: 100/200/300-point events reflecting the minimum prize money amount accordingly 10.000€/20.000€/30.000€.
  • In the SC Ranking, the 12 best events in the last 24 months are counted instead of 15 events as it was from the start. In case of a pregnancy, a female athlete can also request to freeze their points.
  • In the Sprint and Climb competitions, the seven best female and male athletes get points.
  • The total prize money for Season XII is raised to 300.000€.
  • 20 best-ranked Pro Teams will automatically get a license for the following season.
  • A Veteran bib was introduced for this season XII: a new category for the best female or male athlete born in 1978 or earlier (over 44 years).
  • If service zones are assigned in a race, they are the only places to feed athletes and leave trash.
  • Heating soles, socks, and gloves are allowed in all weather conditions.



Anders Aukland, Team Ragde Charge, the soon 50-year-old veteran is a two-time Visma Ski Classics champion with 15 individual event victories. In 2008 he switched from traditional cross-country skiing to long-distance skiing and is part of the skier’s group that battled in the Visma Ski Classics circuit since the start. He shares his thoughts about the most significant changes and most important evolution of the long-distance skiing series.

“The long-distance series is far more professional now, including how both the races and Pro Teams are organized and run. Back in the beginning, there were only a couple of teams and a bunch of solo racers. Now, there are lots of Pro Teams involved, and some of them are as well-supported as national teams in traditional World Cup skiing. Also, the format and concept of the race series have become well established, and now has significant media coverage and live broadcasting on major TV channels.”

Aukland believes the success and increased media attention are a result of the series’ intended objectives and vision.

“The whole idea of the Ski Classics concept was not only to organize a number of the already existing marathon events with long traditions into one cup, but also to make the series more relevant and interesting. That’s why the Ski Classics organization introduced the various bib competitions based on the grand cycling events like Tour de France. The race for the yellow overall leader bib, the youth bib, the sprint bib, the climbing bib, and so on adds an extra dimension to the tour that the existing FIS Marathon Cup did not have.”

What are your expectations for Visma Ski Classics in the years to come?

“I expect that Visma Ski Classics will keep growing for each new season, much because the mainstream media such as NRK and SVT are putting a lot of resources into covering the events. That will contribute to making long-distance racing more interesting to young skiers as a career right off the bat,” Aukland says, adding that the media coverage is only one of several reasons why he believes the series will continue to grow.

“Unlike the World Cup, Visma Ski Classics doesn’t have any restrictions on the number of athletes who can enter the races, and there are no requirements to qualify. That again will give more skiers the opportunity to chase a skiing career.”

Finally, Aukland hopes that Visma Ski Classics events will stay true to their roots.

“I hope it will continue to be a series of hard, long races that cover large distances much longer than the 50-kilometers that are the longest on the World Cup. And I hope the Visma Ski Classics events keep their tracks outside of the stadiums.”


Oskar Svärd, Team Eksjöhus Pro Team Director and former top Pro Athlete who has been involved in the long-distance series since the first events in 2011, sums up perfectly the long way of development during these 100 events.

“Visma Ski Classics has developed during the seasons. New races, places, more races, longer races, and now also shorter and uphill races. I like to try out things, evaluate and then decide if it`s good or not for the future. Ski Classics organization dared to do it! I think it is important to open for different types of courses and different kinds of lengths. But the ground should always be the long old famous races with all the history around.”

The Pro Team Director agrees with the importance of broadcasting long-distance skiing races and the increased interest from women and young athletes.

“The biggest change from before the start of Visma Ski Classics and what it is today is the broadcasting on Television. Attention in media is very important for long-distance skiing. It makes it possible for young athletes to choose that way also. One more big change is the number of athletes doing long-distance skiing at a high level. Especially in the women class is more and more every year. The top has always been very good but now it is more athletes on the highest level than 20 years ago. The Pro Teams are very important for cross-country skiing in total! More athletes can ski and live the dream of being a professional skier – Ski Classics is making the sport bigger!

And Svärd concludes with his thoughts about Visma Ski Classics’ future.

“For the future, I hope more countries will have strong Pro Teams and I am dreaming about a short version of ‘Tour the France’ in Visma Ski Classics. I also hope that the different ski federations start working together and for long-distance skiing, not against it. We need to work together and appreciate all types of skiing from sprint to long-distance.”

Next up in the Visma Ski Classics is La Venosta Time Trial. The 10-kilometer classic race takes place in Italy, on January 15, 2022.

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