After the announcement of the four new stages in Xinjiang, the 2013 China Tour de Ski will be the longest ever in its six year existence. As a result, many top European skiers cannot wait to travel to China and get it on. Among them are several high-profile skiers, such as former overall winners Anders Hoegberg and Adam Johansson, and Finnish ace Kusti Kittilae
Veteran skier Anders Hoegberg will only compete in the first stage of China Tour de Ski in Changchun, however. At the ripe age of 36, Hoegberg has shifted his focus very much on marathon skiing recently and as such will only defend his Vasaloppet China title and not his overall Tour title. Hoegberg has been preparing well this month, including a 42 km long race in Livigno, and certainly ranks among the top favourites to win the 52.5km classic-style race in Jingyuetan Park again.
Adam Johansson will be trying to win the China Tour de Ski for the second time in his still young career, after claiming the title in 2010 and finishing second in 2011. The 24-year-old Swede is fast in the sprint competition and has been quite active since the start of the new winter ski season. Including classic-style races, so Hoegberg better keeps a good eye on him in Changchun!
Adam’s younger brother Emil is joining the Tour as well. Emil Johansson has begun his winter campaign in Sweden with ski sprints and not without success. Will the Johanssons work together to ensure the 2013 China Tour de Ski title goes to the family?
Last year’s runner-up Kusti Kittilae from Finland is returning to China Tour de Ski with a very clear mission: win it. Kittilae finished second in both the distance and the ski sprint races in Xiwuqi last year, and third in Vasaloppet China. Nicknamed “Conan”, the 31-year-old Fin is ready for the challenge: two weeks ago he won a 10km race in Lapinlahti, and prior to that he scored top ten placings in other distance races in his native country. Will Kittilae become the first Finnish winner of China Tour de Ski?
There are more Fins to be reckoned with, though. Mikko Harju has been predominantly racing in the USA, where he attended university, and scored strong results in the US Supertour.Harju could be the dark horse of the Tour this year.
Another event favourite from across the Atlantic Ocean is Canada’s Drew Goldsack, who represented his country in the last two Olympic Winter Games.Goldsack also took part in 9 world championship races, 32 World Cup races and ended second (2011) and third (2010) in the North American Cup. He also became the North American sprint champion two seasons ago. Goldsack is strong in classic style skiing, but clearly also fast in the freestyle sprint. The 31-year old could cause an upset in the Tour!
In the women’s event, the young Julia Jansson (age 20) from Sweden is one of the favourites after regular recent top ten placings in ski sprints, including a win in Bruksvallarna and a bronze medal in the national Swedish championships for juniors.
On the podium in Xiwuqi 2010: Adam (2nd) and Emil Johanson (3rd), and Kusti Kittilae (4th)
Anders Hoegberg (2) wil only compete in Vasaloppet China this year.
Canada’s Drew Goldsack (photo http://drewgoldsack.ca/)