50 km at Holmenkollen – the world's hardest ski course

The 50 km course at Holmenkollen is thought to be the world’s hardest ski course due to its challenging uphill slopes. FIS Nordic World Ski Championship 2011 Sports Director John Aalberg thinks everyone in the cross-country skiing community will consider the winner of the 50 km race the toughest skier in the WSC.

The final measurement of the course was done before Christmas; it showed that the course actually is 53 km. Jointly, the 30 km and 50 km courses at Holmenkollen have the largest elevation gain of any registered 50 km Olympic or World Cup course. The elevation gain of the two courses are 1998 and 1193 metres respectively, setting a new record in the total climbing the skiers must do. FIS regulations on maximum elevation gain were changed in 2004. The Holmenkollen courses are only two metres short of the limit for a 50 km race.

Prestigious to win the 50 km

“Previously the 50 km race took up to three hours, and the long 50 km FIS Nordic World Ski Championship race at Holmenkollen will take more than two hours under normal conditions. The skiers of today have better prepared tracks as well as lighter and faster skis than ever before. Considering the extensive preparation that today’s stars have, I am sure that the favourites all look forward to a challenging competition”, says Oslo 2011 Sport Director John Aalberg. He notes that the hills from the main arena and up to Frognerseteren are very hard, but also a joy to those who are strongest and at their best. He continues:

“It will be very exciting to see who can lead this year, and I think that everyone in the cross-country skiing community will see the winner of the 50 km as the toughest skier of the season and of the World Championship.”

Five to six long climbs

Historically there has always been five to six long climbs in the 50 km course at Holmenkollen. In 1929, the 50 km race had five long climbs that each had an elevation gain of 100-250 metres. The course was then changed to 2×25 km, with three long climbs with elevation gains of 50-150 metres. Later, the course consisted of three rounds of 16.7 km with two long climbs with elevation gains of 50-90 metres.

Northug not surprised

Norwegian national team star Petter Northug Jr is not surprised that the 50 km course actually measures at three kilometres more than 50 km. The king of the 50 km in Vancouver has also noted that the times from the World Cup are longer than those from other 50 km courses. “It’s not at all surprising that this is more than 50 km. This is a course that really sets skiers apart; it is very hard. Those who are the best prepared will be fighting for the medals. During the World Cup I was able to try the course, and I was also there for interval training this autumn”, says Petter Northug Jr.

Source: Oslo 2011

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