This is the final countdown düdüdüdüdü! This earworm is resounding through the Siberian woods in Khanty-Mansysk. The final countdown for the decision in the FIS Worldloppet Cup 2017. Once again the world's best marathon skiers are traveling to Russia to end their season and fight for the crown of the marathon skiing king & queen in the Ugra Ski Marathon.
Siberian winter comes back for Ugra Ski Marathon
The conditions are promising an exciting and hot battle on the tracks. Minus degrees and a thick layer of snow are welcoming the international field. Just today winter returned to Ugra one more time and broke the spring with a snow storm. Even though the skiers had to train under slow conditions today - they said - the situation tomorrow should be better: After the start at 11:00 local time, the sun should break through the clouds. The groomers are working the whole day and probably also the night to ensure perfect conditions for the fight for the last points in the cup in 2017. "I think tomorrow we will have totally different conditions. We skied the lap today and made some sprints and the snow was very slow. But tomorrow I think we will ski on a hard compact slope!", says Toni Livers, last year's winner.
Northug & Ustiugov against marathon skiing elite
One thing is for sure: The winner tomorrow will not get the victory for free! The starting list is full of outstanding skiers, both in the women's and in the men's competition. Of course, the attention is dedicated to the Norwegian superstar Petter Northug, who won 13 gold medals at World Championships, the Worldcup, the Tour de Ski, Olympic Gold medals... For his end of season, he chose to ski final stage of the FIS Worldloppet Cup. Probably his biggest opponent is a well-known for him. Sergey Ustiugov will be the crowd favorite and he has a home advantage. But also his shape this season is incredible: Two gold medals at the WCS in Lahti and the victory in the Tour de Ski 2017.
But those two will not only fight against each other. The FIS Worldloppet Cup athletes will make their race even harder. Candide Pralong (SUI, Team Rossignol Gel Interim) is going to start tomorrow with the red bib, but only 12 points ahead of Ivan Perrillat-Boiteux (FRA, Nordic Team Haute Savoie). Also leader's team mate Toni Livers, who won the cup and the Ugra Ski Marathon last year, is only 37 points away from repeating his victory (find the whole overall standings here).
(Last year's overall and Ugra Ski Marathon winner Toni Livers, Switzerland)
Only 3 points would be enough for Dabudyk
In the ladie's race, the whole podium of last year will stand on the starting line. Yulia Tikhonova from Belarus is going to try to repeat her victory from 2016 followed by last year's second and third, Olga Rotcheva (RUS) and Elisa Brocard (ITA). Seraina Boner from Switzerland, who gave her debut in the cup this season definitely will try to get her first FIS Worldloppet Cup victory tomorrow. But the red bib will be worn by probably the best marathon skiing lady in the world: Aurelie Dabudyk from Nordic Team Haute Savoie (FRA). A 98-points-gap is between her and her chaser Maria Gräfnings from Sweden (SAS & tg hütten), so if she is going to just make 3 points, she is going to win the double after her victory in last season. "Today my feeling was not very good during my training. The snow was very slow, a lot of wind, jet lag... So I hope it will be better tomorrow! Last year this race didn't let me good memories, I hope that I will be in good shape to keep the red bib!", says Dabudyk. So the chance for Gräfnings is still alive.
The start is going to be at 11:00am local time. After the race, Petter Northug and Sergey Ustiugov will be available for a meet & greet before the press conference will start at 15:00 and the price giving ceremony at 16:00. Of course, we are going to show the highlights of the final fight on Worldloppet-TV!
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