Vertical Kilometre Canazei, Dolomites 2014 Race Preview

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The Vertical Kilometre located in the heart of Canazei is one of the toughest and most beautiful VK’s in the Skyrunner® World Series.

Starting in a lush green field the course takes a direct line to the summit, initially through dense forests the course then opens up to show the Dolomite mountain range in all their beauty.

The course is not technical at all. However, what is misses in technicality is compensated for in gradient and difficulty. The whole course is grass and forest path and as such is very slippery, especially if the ground has had recent rain. In sections, the course is well over a 50% gradient and therefore, the use of poles is almost essential.

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Unlike Chamonix or the recent Val D’Isère VK, the Canazei VK is run in ‘waves’ and not individually with ‘timed’ starts. This therefore creates an interesting dynamic on the mountain and also brings an element of tactics into play as we saw in 2013 when Kilian Jornet made a move in the final 100-meters to move past to fellow runners, take the lead and not only win the race but set a course record.

Waves will have approximately 25-runners and the key elite waves will depart (local time) 11:00, 11:04 (ladies) and 11:08.

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The start list for 2014 as usual is extremely impressive and we can certainly expect to see a battle royal on the steep grassy slopes of Canazei.

Men

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Remarkably, just days after winning and setting a new course record at Hardrock 100, Kilian Jornet will toe the line not only in the VK but the SKY race. Under normal circumstances one would have to say that any runner would be tired… but this is Kilian! So, he’s the favourite.

Urban Zemmer will push Kilian as in 2013 and this time will be waiting and prepared should Kilian ‘make a move’ in the final meters. If Zemmer has the strength, he will look to turn the tables in 2014.

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The Dematteis brothers, Bernard and Martin will definitely be contesting the top-5 places and how they perform will very much depend if they decide to use ‘poles.’ They are pure runners and although one can run this VK course, I would say that you are at a disadvantage without them! To put this in perspective, even Kilian uses poles and that doesn’t happen very often.

2013 3rd place, Philip Gotsch returns and although I am not up to date on his current form, one has to give top billing based on his 2013 performance.

Marco Moletto will hopefully bring his top-quality VK form to Canazei and almost certainly will be looking to be in the mix at the front end of the race. His winning performance 36:50 at Val D’Isere will give him a boost, however, the competition is greater in the Dolomites.

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Nejc Kuhar had a strong showing in Val D’Isere (2nd just 8-secs behind Moletto) at the VK Face Bellevarde and although the Dolomites VK course has different characteristics, we can expect the La Sportiva runner to be close to the top-5.

Eirik Haugsnes had a disappointing Chamonix VK but followed up with a great performance in the Chamonix Sky race. Eirik like to run VK’s and therefore this VK may not suit his skill set. It will be interesting to see if he uses poles.

Nadir Maguet, Thorbjorn Ludvigsen, Alexis Sevennec and Tadei Pivk will all be in the mix. It’s anyone’s to call.

Ones to watch:

  • Matheo Jacquemoud
  • Marco Facchinhelli
  • Dabid Garcia
  • Inaka Uribe
  • William Bon Mardion
  • Joan Freixa Marcelo
  • Marc Pinsach
  • Juan Navarro

Ladies  

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2013 champion Antonella Confortola returns and on a course were poles play an integral part in race success, one has to tip Antonella for the win again. Last weekend, Antonella paced 2nd behind Laura Orgue in Val D’Isere saying that, ‘I ran too hard in the early stages.’ However, Antonella beat her VK time for the same course set some 10-years earlier.

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Laura Orgue despite her skiing background is less familiar with poles and this may put her at a disadvantage on this course. But, Laura knows how to run VK’s and she will be in the mix for sure.

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Emelie Forsberg says she is still learning how to run a VK but she placed 2nd on this course in 2012, so we may very well see a repeat performance despite Emelie placing out of the top-3 in Val D’Isere.

Christel Dewalle cannot be ruled out of any VK race and she is a last minute entry here in Canazei. Last weekend, Christel won the ‘Altispeed’ race in Val D’Isere.

Iva Milesova was only 8-seconds behind Emelie in 2013 and if the Czech runner has the same form, top-5 is a great possibility. It will all come down to the speed of the race and if anyone can match the pace set by Confortola.

Maite Mairoa and Stephanie Jiminez will both be in the mix and although great mountain vertical runners they are not as familiar with using poles. I believe that doth will use them for Canazei so it will be interesting to see how they get on.

Ones to watch:

  • Celine Lafaye
  • Leire Agirrezabala
  • Uxoa Irigoien
  • Francesca Rossi
  • Alba Xandri

 

Links:

Skyrunning HERE

Dolomites Skyrace and VK website HERE

2013 race summary HERE

Race results 2013:

  1. Kilian Jornet 32:43 – SPA – * new course record
  2. Urban Zemmer 32:50 – ITA
  3. Philip Gotsch 32:54 – ITA
  1. Antonella Confortola 41:02 – ITA
  2. Emelie Forsberg 43:01 – SWE
  3. Iva Milesova 43:09 – CZE

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