Vasaloppet China is getting ready for its 15th anniversary edition already in Jingyuetan Park in Changchun on 4 January 2017. There is lots to celebrate only for that reason, but even more so given that China’s maiden skiing event has been included in Ski Classics, the world’s long distance ski championship!
It is great honour for us at Nordic Ways and one we could not have thought of when we started the Vasaloppet China event back in 2003. Fifteen years later, the event has become fully of age and is as much part of Changchun as it is part of Sweden. Being included in Ski Classics implies that the race will be broadcast live in more than 20 countries next month, unique for a ski event in China. Find out more about Ski Classics via the official website.
Vasaloppet China of course also is one of six stages in the China Tour de Ski.
Given the increased international importance of the race, many strong long distance skiers are motivated to make the trip to China just after new year’s. Among those are Norway’s Chris Andre Jespersen, who after being an integral member of the Norwegian National Team in international competitions has been focusing primarily on long distance races of late. A member of team United Bakeries, the 33-year-old Jespersen has two second places in World Cup races on his record and certainly counts as one of the favourites in Changchun this year.
But there are more Norwegians with ambition. Another former national team member with world cup placings is Simen Östensen. Moreover, Östensen has already scored victories on the long distance at Marcialonga in Italy and Tartu Ski Marathon in Estonia! Also his teammate at Team BN Bank, Morten Eide Pedersen has already tasted victory champagne. He grabbed the win at Jizerska Padesatka two years ago, which confirmed the talent he showed as a youngster winning the 2012 youth category of Ski Classics. Another skier to watch out for is Oystein Pettersen, an Olympic champion in the team ski sprint (Vancouver 2010). He has shifted his attention recently to the long distance work as well.
It is not all Norway that matters, of course. Sweden will be represented, amongst others, by Jens Eriksson from Team Santander. A former national champion over 50 km, and someone who has actually scored several top 10 placings in the Swedish Vasaloppet as well!
Moving over to the women, the overall winner of last year’s Ski Classics and long distance superstar Britta Johansson Norgren will take the start in Changchun! Johansson also has achieved merit at the Olympic winter games in 2006, as well as scored several medals in world championships relay. Johansson Norgren will be up against the best female skier in Japan: Masako Ishida. Owner of many gold medals in Asian winter games, Ishida has left her mark on the world stage with top ten placings at the Olympics and in many world cup races.
In the next few weeks, more international top skiers will be added to the start list of Vasaloppet China, for what promises to be a memorable 15th edition on 4 January!