Monday, March 5, 2018

Second victory at MARA after 2014

MARA is a 42km classic race in Swiss Jura. The only classic race of Swissloppet series.

This race is always very special for me. Here are all my participations:
2009 - 5th
2011 - 4th
2012 - 2nd (lost klister after 5km, so double polling all the way)
2013 - 3rd (twisted ankle 3 days before, so double polling all the way)
2014 - 1st (long awaited victory)
2015 - 14th (the worst mara ever)
2016 - 7th
2017 - 7th (went with klister but should have double poled, the leaders did so)
2018 - 1st

The original Mara track is a race with many uphills (not flat at all). It was one of my main goals this year to perform well at this race. Already last May I knew I will do it double polling :) And so was my preparation... Even though I was not training even close to what I was training before, I managed to get a good shape on skis this season (well, to be honest the snow came in November and I was a lot on the skis this winter, should not complain much).

I did on Saturday 25km race (part of the Maxi-Mara). It did not go well, I had bad feeling and after coming back home went to bed for 2 hours with hot tea and honey. By the evening, I was already feeling good.

The weather forecast showed slight minus coming into plus. Normally, I do my double polling races on classic skis, but since my new skating Rossignol skis were performing very good in the last 4 races with warm conditions, I decide to run on them.

On Sunday the weather was simply amazing. I saw all people suffering with the kick wax and thought that at least I dont have this stress today. On the other hand, I thought: "Conditions for diagonal technic seem to be easy today and double polling might not have advantage given the hilly profile of the race". Turned out, I was wrong and many people did have a lot of troubles with kick wax as the snow conditions changed a lot during the race and snow was sticking to the skis in the second part of the race. In any case, I went to the start and saw many familiar faces. I knew, the race is gonna be fun... and so it was!

Since the start, we had quite fast speed and before the first long uphill (after about 5-8km after the start), we were five: Evgeny, Reto, Arnaud, Philippe and Guillaume (4 SASlers and a French). Was cool to see 4 people from my club in the lead. Arnaud was doing double polling as I, the other three had kick wax. Then, there was a long-long uphill. By the end of it, have lost a bit the contact with them but then on the flat I managed to get back.

The race continued. At some point, Reto was creating a gap with others and I jumped on his train. We managed to slowly run away and then were changing with each other to maintain the high speed, Reto mostly on the uphills and I am on the flatter parts of the track. About half way through the race I noticed that Reto is not following me and there is a small gap between us. I thought he would get back to me on the uphills but he did not. I continued to race alone in front.

My main fear was that on the 4 uphills in the last 8km (with the last long and steep climb), the chasers will catch me due to their more efficient diagonal stride, so I had to work hard all the time to create as much advantage as I could. When I looked behind on the top of the hardest uphill 2km before the finish line, I saw that they are not close to be. There I knew, I had my second victory at Mara.

I crossed the final red line with my hands up. It was a long time since I was that happy after the ski race. The weekend was definitely a big success for me and a highlight of this winter!!!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

3rd in MARA with double poling

I never planned to do MARA with only double poling because it is a hard race with many uphills and it is 42km (you can see the race profile here). But this year I actually did not have a choice! Why? Well, here is the story...

I recovered well after Gommerlauf last weekend, did several classic skiing sessions this week and was ready to rock the world!  On Thursday we went with friends to Disco on Ice. Normally, I am very comfortable on ice skates and even do simple jumps, but this time I was unlucky and badly twisted my ankle :( The doctor said, I should not do any sports for 10 days.

I couldn't skip la MARA because of the Swiss Loppet Cup classification. So the plan was to do it anyways.  On Saturday, I prepared two pairs of skis: one with klister and another pair with only glide wax (for double poling).  I was still hoping that by Sunday my leg will be fine and I will be able to do the normal classic race with klister.

On Sunday before the race, I managed to put my painful leg into the ski shoes and tried the skis. I realized that I was not able to go with normal classic technic and use my legs in the race. So I finally decided to go with double poling: only pushing with arms and not using my legs.  I knew it's gonna be hard, but well...

The race went actually super good. I was pushing hard in the beginning when the track was not yet too demanding. We managed to run away from the others and were four in the group. I was suffering on uphills because double poling is not too efficient on steep climbs: I was loosing contact and then was coming back. Later, Remo Fischer, who came back from the World Championship on Saturday, left the group and went forward alone.  With the last year winner Guillaume Lalevee we ran away from the fourth person.  The last 6-7 kms of La MARA have 5 hard uphills, where I was suffering a lot. However, I managed to finish third (on the podium!!!) and got +20 points over my main competitor for the SwissLoppet Cup - Bruno Joller.

In the end, I am extremely happy with this race, but I do not advice anyone to do la MARA with only double poling :)

Race stats

Photos and videos are from

Monday, February 25, 2013

2nd and 6th at Gommerlauf 2013

Well, I did not write for a long time on the blog! Seems as it is the first skiing report this year. I had too much writing with my PhD thesis. Already 135 pages, so it's coming to its end!!!

First race after the New Year was super. I was second in Campra Swissloppet and felt very strong during the race. Then I got sick for a week, and the results were not super good. However, I managed to recover and get back in shape. I was second in Kandersteg, third in Einsiedeln, again third in Franco-Suisse.

This weekend (23-24 February, I went to Goms for Gommerlauf). The plan was to do 21km classic race on Saturday and 30km skating race on Sunday (Swissloppet race).

The other pictures

21km classic

First of all, the weather was simply awesome! Cold (-10-12), sunny and classic ;) As last year (this year without any hesitation!), I went with no "kick" wax on skis (only double poling). I took skating skis for this matter, even though I heard several opinions after the race that it is still better to use classic skis ...

Soon after the start we were only three people. I and two Italian guys.  We were going like this for some time leading in turn from time to time.  My atomic skis were gliding not slower than theirs.  Then when I was going third I missed an attack of Simone Paredi. I passed the second Italian, but could not reach Paredi. We had several seconds between us, maybe 30-50 meters and I couldn't reach him.  For several kilometers we were going like this, but then on the long uphill I started to loose more and more. In the end, once I realized that it becomes hard to get back to him, I went in the normal tempo. The second Italian was quite far behind by that time. I guess Paredi also did not work super hard afterwards, since we both had a race next day.

Finally, I finished the race on the second place and was quite happy about it :) Good preparation for Mara and the classic Swiss Championship!  Since my upper body muscles were quite tired I went to get free after-the-race-massage. It was awesome!

Classic results
Race stats

30km skating

The next day was the longer 30km skating race. The field was filled (in addition to Swiss guys) with strong French, Italian and German skiers.  Several centimeters of new snow, still quite cold conditions, skis are gliding not bad!

The start of the race was quite slow, nobody was pushing too hard in the beginning and we were going in a very big group. Bam, a ski is on my pole and I loose the tip. We are not going very fast, so I do not loose anything and a nice lady gives me an exel pole. The length of the pole is ok, but the handle is too small, so I can't fix it very well. I continue the race like this.

An attack after several kilometers! The French skier Christophe Perrillat runs away alone, then the other 5 skiers, and then my group of 3 people (two Fischer skier and I). There is quite a distance between our and second group, but we slowly got back to them, since they did not go very fast. So we go very slow all 8 people. The chasing group behind was too far, so we were going really slow. I got too tired during the attack, so I didn't even go in front.  Bam, again a ski is on the pole and I completely loose it, because it's not fixed well on the wrist, no time to come back. We go slow, so until the next people I go with only one pole. Happily, they give me another pole which is heavy and bigger than the one I have, but it's better than no pole at all ;)

We continue to go very slow untill 1km before the finish, where we start to sprint. In the end, I was fifth in our 8-people group and 6th overall. Not bad, taking into account the strong field.

Skating results

As a combi of two days (classic + skating) I was second and got a prize, yahoooo! :) That was it. Mara is next!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Skate the Ring in Austria (Rollerski)

Finally found time to write about the rollerski race in Austria! Skate the Ring and Climb the Goas - that's the name of the competition!

The races were on 18th and 19th of August in Salzburg. I've been staying with my friends from Germany (Tina, Sarah, Christian, Eric and Martin) in an Austrian guest house. It was super hot (more than 30 degrees), I had super time and liked a lot the competition, even though the races were not very fortunate for me.
My housemates!
Climb the Goas

On the first day we had 9 km classic uphill race. The race was going well, I was doing very good the first 6.5km (in the leading group, in the first 10), but then I suddenly had a pain in my left side, and actually had to stop for a few times and go very slow afterwards. Thus I finished only 29th with 7.5 minutes after the winner.

The start of the Climb the Goas
Skate the Ring

Thus, the next day (50km skating pursuit race, 12 laps on the car racing track) I had to start from
the wave (3 minutes after the first day winner). I felt very good, passed many people and almost
brought our second group to the leading group. But I stupidly fell down 1km before the finish and
thus was the last in our group. Well, at least I made a new record: the faster lap time ever :)
My first lap of 4225 meters was done in 6 min 57 sec (the average speed was 36.5km/h).
So now with my record I am in the Hall of Fame :)

I am running away (number 29 on the right)

I am definitely going next year again!!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Marathøl in Davos - last season race

After a heavy rain everywhere in Switzerland, it was great to find snow in Davos. Though the conditions on Saturday were not the best: it was snowing but wet snow, Sunday was a real winter. You open your eyes in the morning and watch how white snow is coming from the sky and slowly landing on the ground, on the cars, on the roofs of the houses. It is a slight minus outside. For the moment, you forget that it is 8th of April, you are filled with a joy of the first snow that has just arrived and the winter has just started. Nirvana... but you wake up from the dreams to realize that you it is the last race of the skiing season. Marathøl is waiting for you and this day is going to rock!

All serious races are finished by now, this one is all about fun, fun and fun. Mauro Gruber took over the organization of this 18th Marathøl edition and we all should tell him "BIG THANKS!!!". We were four SASlers at the start (Mauro, Evgeny, Pascal and Fabian) and with other joining us skiers we counted around 40 people.

Traditionally, Marathøl - Marathon + øl (a bier in Skandinavia) - is a bier race, where at the start and after each lap of around 400 meters on skis you have to drink a bottle of bier. Four laps, 5 bottles, but that's not all: everybody is wearing a costume which turns the race into a cartoon. You can find all kind of personages here: Super Mario, his brother Luigi, a Plane, a Duracel Rabbit, African Kozak, Mummies, and many others.

The Swiss Air Force pilot-plane (Mauro) was training very hard during the whole year to win the Marathøl. He was so desperate to be first, so that he came up with a very secret plan to introduce a sprint into Marathøl program. 100 meters all together: a shot of a strong drink at the start, 20 meters running to skis, another shot, putting the skis on, 30 meters on skis, last 3rd shot, 180 degrees turn and go back as fast as you can. Since Mauro is a very good sprinter, the plan was ideal and the victory was garanteed... But of course a bunch of russian hackers broke into the highly secure Marathøl system, stole the program and sold it for a huge sum of money to Super Mario (Ueli), who got his magic super-speed and won the main prize. We will see what strategies the others can offer to beat Super Mario next year.

The female NHL player (Tanja) came up with an icy winning strategy. During the night she secretly put water on the ski bindings of her hockey teammates - Gasparin sisters Elisa and Aita. When during the sprint they came to put their skis on, it took them so long to get rid of ice that she could finish first without any effort.

The winner of the traditional Marathøl naturally comes from the french part of Switzerland. Being a good skier and the descendant of professional russian warriors and drinkers who visited France in 1812, Sylvan left no chance to others. Tanja felt extremely guilty about her mis-behavior in the sprint, so she went all the race together with her teammates and they made a peaceful group finish.

Certainly, the party did not stop here and went on with pizzas, disco in the bars of Davos, and, of course, with the 18 candles cake for the Marathøl anniversary.

Skiing, having fun, meeting new people, making the existing relationships stronger - that is what it is all about! Next year - again. Thanks for coming!

Four SASlers in Action
Sprint Start
The Ski Fight
Pilot-plane in action
Super Mauro towards his victory
Tanja the Sprint Winner
Elisa and Aita are removing the evil ice
Who said rabbits can't climb? Just give them DURACEL!