Ari Luusua and Niina Virtanen took victories in Finlandia Ski Marathon Classic 50 km main races in Lahti and Hollola on Saturday. Luusua finished 2,7 seconds ahead of Aku Nikander, Finlandia Ski Marathon legend Kari Varis finished third. Virtanen won by a 3.49,5 minutes ahead of Krista Niiranen, Eeva Ahervo finished third.
For Luusua it was the first victory at Finlandia Ski Marathon, Virtanen defended her title from last year.
”10 km before finish Aku Nikander was increasing speed. I followed him and leaded also a little bit to help. In the end I made the gap in final downhill. My plan was to make my move in the final straight, but it was not needed as my skis were so great”, said Luusua.
For him Finlandia Ski Marathon was a great part of preparations on his way to Vasaloppet. To Vasaloppet goes also Virtanen, who will race the classic for the first time. In Finlandia she took her second victory.
”This was my main event this season. This winter I have been skiing a lot more longer distances, it was easier to ski. I dared to go fast from the beginning. I was skiing together with a bunch of men, and it was a good pack where leader was changing and the pace was good. I couldn’t ski that fast alone. Now it is Vasaloppet next. I have neer been there before”, Virtanen said.
The fastest man and woman on 32km course were Tero Viik (who raced in Men 40) and Nea Katajala.
Finlandia Ski Marathon was completed in sunny, winter weather with temperatures varying from -18 to -12 degrees. Conditions remained excellent.
A total of 1819 skiers were registered to classic 50 km, 1624 started the race. A total of 477 skiers registered to 32km, 398 of them started the race.
On Sunday there are 100 km, 50 km and 20 km in programme.