Who can beat Nygaard?

It’s close now. Only a few more days left to Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet 2019. Already now we can note a record: There are currently 444 skiers from 21 nations on the start list – that’s the biggest field so far wanting to take on the world’s longest ski race. The most surprising registrations come from Mexico and Dubai.

Constant snowfall made last year’s race an extreme feat. Many couldn’t make it all through the 220 km long tracks but we’re forced to call it quits along the way. Even the elite had to fight hard and only arrived at the finish line two hours behind the planned schedule. “This was the toughest I’ve ever done”, admitted the Norwegian long distance star Andreas Nygaard afterwards.

As by the current forecast there won’t at least be any fresh snow. If the race will be fast or not still depends on the actual weather in the remaining days up to Saturday. It all comes down to whether the tracks will freeze in the night before the start or not. Another question still to be answered is whether anyone can challenge Nygaard during this fourth edition of Nordenskiöldsloppet in modern time and stop him from making a third straight title.

An exhausted Øyvind Moen Fjeld at the finish of Nordenskiöldsloppet 2017

A skier to always count on above the Artic circle is named Øyvind Moen Fjeld and just as Nygaard part of Team Ragde. Since 2016 the Norwegian has made it on the podium in every year. Most recently it’s been two second places in a row. Finland’s Christoffer Lindvall is another skier that has been part of the prize giving ceremony when he took the bronze in 2017 so he should definitely be on the list of contenders. The same goes for his team mate and fellow countryman Hans Mäenpää who with an incredible distance of 472 km has set a new world record for 24 hours skiing in 2018.

Vegard Vinje of Norway’s Lyn Ski team performed really well between Sälen and Mora the other week when he came on 13th place. The Swedish hope mostly lies on Johan Lövgren, Team Igne. In 2017 he arrived back in Jokkmokk as 8th man and also delivered a nice result at Vasaloppet recently.

Nina Linztén in the lead of the pack in 2017

On the women’s side things are a bit more open. Defending champion Emilia Lindstedt isn’t starting. Amongst the 47 registered women we can find Nina Lintzén. The 2017 champion’s start is however still to be confirmed as she only about five months ago has given birth. Either way she most probably is a bit behind her usual training amount. That might open up for last year’s silver medalist Olivia Hansson. As she also has two fourth places under her belt she surely knows how to handle both the distance and darkness.

Is this Olivia Hansson’s year to come up first?

Two other women that possibly might come in strong are Norwegian Merete Myrseth, Team Igne and Finland’s Terhi Pollari, Ski Marathon Team Austria. Both travel to Jokkmokk with top 25 placements from Vasaloppet in their baggage.

Who’s eventually arriving on the last meters first we’ll see this Saturday.