3-4 January 2022




In Val di Fiemme the last three stages of the 15th Tour de Ski
Mass Start and Sprint in classic, Final Climb Mass Start in freestyle to close the Tour
Cristian Zorzi: “Without spectators, everything’s strange”

Everything’s ready in Val di Fiemme to host the last three stages of the 15th Tour de Ski in complete safety. All participants will be tested to create a safe environment with face masks and hand sanitisers for everyone. Snow fell in abundance over the last few days. A slight dusting of snow covered the tracks last night, but the courses look amazing and are ready to welcome the athletes on Friday.
On Friday 8 January the Cross-Country Stadium in Lago di Tesero will host the mass start in classic (10km women and 15km men). On Saturday 9 there will be the sprint in classic, with important bonus points for the final rankings up for grabs. The Final Climb will take place on Sunday and will be held in a mass start format in freestyle like in 2020. This will be a challenge against the laws of physics and will lead the athletes to the finish line on Alpe Cermis. The tough climb of Alpe Cermis will in fact “push” the athletes towards the valley bottom, while their only goal will be to reach the top of Cermis in the fastest possible time. The much sought-after crystal trophy will be awarded to the winners of the overall standings along with a rich prize money. This year, the trophy symbolises the “crystal anniversary” for the 15th edition of the Tour.
Cristian Zorzi, Val di Fiemme Ambassador, former Italian athlete and cross-country skiing champion and now ski technician of the Italian team – even in the Tour de Ski – said that everyone can sense the unusual atmosphere of this Tour: “I miss the Tour as an athlete, I miss the enthusiasm of the spectators on Alpe Cermis. This year the COVID-19 pandemic has ruined the atmosphere a bit making everything feel stranger”. Here is his opinion about the pandemic: “The tests for COVID-19 make everyone lose a bit of serenity from a sporting point of view, but they are necessary”.
Norway’s decision not to take part in the Tour de Ski has left everyone stunned. “The situation regarding the Norwegian team is a bit complex,” stated Zorzi. “From my point of view it’s a good decision, since they show their respect for those who are fighting every day against COVID-19, but at the same time I think that since the FIS World Cup is a big family, certain decisions should be taken all together”.
Zorzi, who has been a pillar of the Italian national team, comments on the situation of the Italian athletes in view of the races in Val di Fiemme: “In Casa Italia there is a positive atmosphere, even if with COVID-19 it’s not easy to manage the logistical and competitive aspects. Val di Fiemme is well known in the cross-country skiing world. This year it will be a shame not to be able to see the usual crowd on the Final Climb, which has always been the race par excellence, not only in the Tour de Ski but also on the World Cup tour. What you feel in the final stage is incredible, you don’t have that feeling in any other race”. What about Federico Pellegrino and his appearance in the last stage? “In my opinion he won’t face it,” stated Zorzi smiling. “He planned the season in advance and knows his strengths. I think he wants to save energy for races in which he can do well”. But on several occasions Pellegrino said that he would like to face the fascinating Final Climb on Alpe Cermis.
One last question, who will win the Tour? “Bolshunov is very likely to win the Tour, but he could suffer in the final stage compared to his teammates Spitsov and Melnichenko and to the Frenchman Manificat,” said Zorzi. “The Russians don’t work out strategies, especially when there are such prizes up for grabs. As for the women, Diggins is back in the limelight, with Brennan having achieved good results so far. Let’s see if Karlsson can continue, but I think it will be a challenge between the USA and Sweden”.
In Italy everyone is missing Cristian Zorzi and his wry comments. But he certainly sets an example to follow to the many young athletes in the Italian team.
The events will take place behind closed doors and will be broadcast live on Rai Sport and Eurosport. Don’t forget to tune in to watch the Men’s Mass Start at 1.15 pm and the Women’s Mass Start at 3.35 pm on Friday.

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