Dolomites SkyRace 2014 Race Preview

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Hot on the heels of the Dolomites VK, just 2-days later, a super stacked field of elite and non-elite runners will tackle the incredible slopes of the Dolomites. Starting in the town of Canazei, the Skyrunner® World Series Dolomites SkyRace® has for many years represented an ideal playground for the world’s top athletes.  The steep technical course and spectacular panoramas it offers has runners coming back for more time and again.  On Sunday, 600+ runners will start the race. Last year, Kilian broke the male ascent record set by Augusti Roc to Piz Boe and Emelie Forsberg broke the female descent record set by Angela Mudge.

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The quality of runners, particularly in the men’s field is very deep and therefore a surprise could come from anywhere.

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Kilian Jornet has just run 100-miles and as you read this he will be toeing the line in the Vertical Kilometer. Kilian says he feels good but he is absolutely sure that the running and winning of Hardrock 100 will impact on his performances in the Dolomites. I can understand his caution… however; we are talking about Kilian Jornet so topping the podium in Canazei is a distinct possibility.

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Tadei Pivk had a great race last year taking the 3rd podium place and a repeat performance on a course he knows well is a distinct possibility. Marco De Gasperi will not race this year due to injury so does that open the door for Tadei?

Ionut Zinca and Alexis Sevennec rounded out the top-5 last year over 7-minutes behind a storming Kilian Jornet. Both Ionut and Alexis appear to be in great form at the moment. Ionut in particular is currently lying 4th in the Skyrunner® World Series so he will be looking for more valuable points.

Zaid Ait Malek - Haria Extreme

Zaid Ait Malek – Haria Extreme

Aritz Egea and Zaid Ait Malek are extremely strong performers over the SKY distance and we have seen them both excel at races such as Zegama-Aizkorri and last years, Limone Extreme. At the Skyrunning World Champions in Chamonix, Aritz ran a great race with a top-10 finish. However, Zaid had a bad day at the office after looking like podium potential in the early stages.

Erik Dagsson Haugsness inov-8

Erik Dagsson Haugsness inov-8

Eirik Haugsness had the race of his life at the Skyrunning World Championships producing an excellent top-10 performance in the wet and cold conditions. Eirik has all the potential for a repeat top-10 performance in this super stacked field and should things go well, a top-5 is a distinct possibility.

Bernard Dematteis and Martin Dematteis are an exciting addition the SkyRace and they will be looking to bring fast running and vertical climbing ability to contest with the front of the race. They showed everyone a clean pair of heals in Transvulcania running one of the shorter races and it’s fair to say that this duo will potentially cause some fireworks in Canazei.

David Schneider has been quiet this year and may well just sneak under the radar. We saw some excellent performances from David in 2013 and this will be his first Skyrunning race for 2014, I expect he will want to make an impact.

Who else is hot!

Thorbjorn Ludvigsen

Nicolas Pianet

Matheo Jacquemoud

Miguel Caballero

Manuel Merillos

Jordi Bes Ginesta

Fabio Bazzana

 

Ones to watch:

Etienne Van Gasse

Oscar Casal Mir

Marc Casal Mir

Hassan Ait Chau

Dabid Garcia

Inake Uribe

Es Tressider

Espen Mikkelsen

Matteo Piller Hoffer

Marco Viscentini

Gionni Morocutti

Michele Zannier

Marco Errath

Marco Marcuzzi

Mirco Lazzara

Michele Vicario

Marco Segrado

Andrea De Bona

Eric Diaz

David Lopez

Dani Tristany

Alfredo Gil

Paolo Bert

Michele Tavernaro

Aleksander Ivakin

Just Sociats

Pere Aurell

Josep Vines

Pere Rullan

Antonio Roldan

Emelie Forsberg ©iancorless.com

Emelie Forsberg ©iancorless.com

Emelie Forsberg decided not to run the Vertical Kilometer as she felt she needed a little more recovery and easier running after her victory at the tough (and long) Ice Trail Tarentaise just last weekend. This is a wise move and on this pure Skyrunning course, Emelie is hot favourite for the win.

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Maite Maiora placed 4th behind Emelie last year almost 11-minutes back, however, Maite is a different runner this year and I personally think we can expect to see her pushing closer to the front.

Antonella Confortola is spreading her works from her favourite VK distance and tackling the slopes of Piz Boe. Antonella will be a contender for the podium as will the other VK specialist, Laura Orgue. Laura doesn’t seem to run many races outside the VK distance, however, when she does she performs at the highest level. These two ladies will bring an interesting dynamic to the race. 

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Stephanie Jiminez is a pure short distance mountain runner and VK specialist and the Dolomites SkyRace will suit her skill set. Stephanie will be in the mix, pushing all the other ladies to the line.

Victoria Wilkinson from the UK is an exciting prospect. A string of top quality results and performances on home soil bode well for a strong performance here in the Dolomites. The biggest question marks will come in adaptation to altitude and the tough, long, steep and technical terrain that this course offers.

Celine Lafaye has had a quiet 2014 but can’t be ruled out of a top-5 performance. I am just not sure of her current form?

 

Ones to watch:

Leire Agirrezabala

Uxoa Irigoien

Paola Romanin

Maria Dimitria Theocharis

Laia Andreu Trias

Montse Martinez Guerrero

Anna Comet

Lisa Buzzoni

Chiara Gianola

Eva Moreda

 

Race Results from 2013:

Men

1. JORNET KILIAN (ESP) SALOMON SANTIVERI – 2h00’11”

2. DE GASPERI MARCO (ITA) GS FORESTALE – 2h00’14”

3. PIVK TADEI (ITA) CRAZY IDEA – 2h04’10”

4. ZINCA IONUT (ROU) VALETUDO SKYRUNNING – 2h07’26”

5. SEVENNEC ALEXIS (FRA) CRAZY IDEA – 2h07’58”

Women

1. FORSBERG EMELIE (SWE) SALOMON 2h26’52”

2. SERAFINI SILVIA (ITA) SALOMON AGISKO – 2h36’55”

3. DOMINGUEZ NURIA (ESP) TEAM ESPANA – 2h37’41

4. MAIORA MAITE (ESP) TEAM ESPANA – 2h37’58

5. WISNIEWSKA DOMINIKA (POL) – TEAM POLAND – 2h40’30”

 

Skyrunning HERE

Dolomites SkyRace HERE

 

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

Vertical Kilometer Bellevarde Face 2014 – Race Preview

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Val d’Isere has a great history with the Vertical Kilometer, way back in ‘96’ the ISF were the first to organize a VK here!

A time lapse of 9-years since 2005 and Val d’Isere has re connected with the ethos of the VK using the Olympic Bellevarde Face. For many years, Marco De Gasperi held the VK world record here of 34-minutes and 41-seconds until the Italian was dethroned by a fellow countryman and VK specialist; Urban Zemmer.

The Vertical Kilometer has traditionally started at the foot of the Olympic Bellevarde face on “the board” in the heart of the Parc des Sports Charles Diebold in the center Val d’Isere.

The route then takes the greater part of what was the route of the men’s downhill Olympic Winter Games ski route (1992), won by Austrian Patrick Ortlieb.

It’s a tough course; 2.9Km’s in length and reaches an altitude of 2809m. Average gradients over the course are 35%, however, in places it reaches 63% as presented in the first hundred meters.

Including steep passages at 49% and 56% gradient, the sting comes with the famous passage of the Columbine at 55%. Followed by gentle slopes of the Great Wall (51%) a refreshment station is provided before the push to the line passing ‘Catherine Dent’ (50%) and then a finish loop passes the Bellevarde restaurant and the arrival is at a wooden start cabin at an altitude of 2809m.

Records: 

Men: Marco DE GASPERI (ITA) en 34’51” (2003)

Women: Antonella CONFORTOLA (ITA) en 42’48” (2002) 

Stats: 

  • Finish Elevation: 2 809 m
  • Length: 2 905 m
  • Altitude gain: 1000 m
  • Maximum Gradient: 63 %
  • Minimum Gradient: 15 %
  • Average Gradient: 35 %

The Vertical Kilometer Bellevarde Face is part of the 2014 Skyrunner® World Series and will be followed by the Ice Trail Tarentaise 2-days later (preview for the ITT HERE)

Who is racing in 2014?

MEN

Urban Zemmer

Urban Zemmer

Urban Zemmer is a VK specialist and this course will suit his style. Urban is odds on favourite for victory.

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Aritz Egea

Aritz Egea a consistent performer in mountain races over the Sky distance, his recent top placing at the Mont-Blanc VK bodes well.

Marco Facchinelli like Zemmer specializes in the VK distance and he was 2nd in the Skyrunner® World Series 2013. Withdarwn

Marco Moletto finished offthe 2013 Skyrunner® World Series podium with 3rd place and therefore will be in contention in Val d’Isere.

Ferran Texeido

Thorbjorn Ludvigsen

Thorbjorn Ludvigsen

Thorbjorn Ludvigsen

Augusti Roc currently 4th in the 2014 Skyrunner® World Series

Nil Cardona

Marc Casal Mir

Oscar Casal Mir

David Garcia

Marc Pinsach

 

LADIES

Laura Orgue

Laura Orgue

Laura Orgue Skyrunner® World Series VK champion in 2013 and recently crowned VK World Champion in Chamonix id hot favourite for the top spot.

Antonella Confortola at Canazei VK

Antonella Confortola at Canazei VK

Antonella Confortola course record holder and a formidable force in any VK.

Stevie Kremer

Stevie Kremer

Stevie Kremer placed 2nd in her 1st VK in Chamonix and with no other race to hold back for, Stevie may just top the podium. Withdarwn

Emelie Forsberg needs to introduction, great going uphill and downhill. Emelie will be in the mix for the podium.

Christel Dewalle like Emelie will run the VK and the Ultra and stands a great chance to be on both podiums.

Kasie Enman placed 6th in Chamonix.  Withdarwn

Stephanie Jimenez

Oihana Azkorbebeitia

Celine Lafaye

 LINKS

Skyrunning HERE

Race websites