Oberbacher and Drion the 30th «Sellaronda» De Silvestro and Murada triumph among the female athletes

It is 42 kilometres long like the queen race of athletics, the most seducing Olympic event, the surroundings though are very different since there are mountains. The distance is covered by the athletes in pairs, wearing skis, during night time, tackling 4 different mountain passes, 4 valleys where they speak Ladin and passing through 4 different villages with an overall vertical height gain of 2.700 metres. And also this year the Sellaronda Skimarathon lived up to its expectations, on its 30th anniversary, with 568 couples representing as many as 20 different nations at the starting line, they were all lucky enough to race under the star lit sky and in temperatures that were never too cold.
At the finish line in Canazei, from where the competition started just as it did on its first edition in 1995, the native from Val Gardena Alex Oberbacher and the Belgian Maximilien Drion were celebrated, thus putting their names for the first time on the night time race’s hall of fame. Behind them the two athletes from the Centro Sportivo Esercito, Davide Magnini and Michele Boscacci who were considered favourites on the eve of the race. The podium was then completed by the Austrian duo Jakob Hermann and the rising star Paul Verbnjak.
The ski mountaineers tackled in sequence the ascents towards Passo Sella, Passo Gardena, Passo Campolongo and Passo Pordoi, passing by the villages of Selva Gardena, Corvara and Arabba.
Davide Magnini, who last year had won together with Matteo Eydallin, raced with his other team mate from the Italian national team Michele Boscacci who turned up on the starting line without being in perfect physical condition due to the flu. The athlete from Vermiglio in Trentino and the decorated champion from Albosaggia set off with their foot pressing hard on the accelerator, passing by Passo Sella ahead of the pack, twenty metres apart one from the other. Right behind them the young Austrian Verbnjak tried to keep up with the two Italians, but his sparring partner Jakob Hermann – at his career’s last race – was forced to let go of the intensity leaving space for the lively Alex Oberbacher and Maximilien Drion who proved to have an excellent pace.
The athlete from South Tyrol, second in the last two editions (in 2023 together with William Boffelli and in 2022 together with Davide Magnini) has proved to have a great condition, excellently supported by the Belgian athlete Drion, who was taking part in his first Sellaronda. The two athletes wearing the Centro Sportivo Esercito colours at Passo Gardena had one minute advantage over the La Sportiva team, while the two Austrian couples Hermann-Verbnjak and Oberauer-Lohfeyer were already 3 minutes behind. The result of the race seemed to be already marked, but Oberbacher and Drion, making the most of a technical choice of using speedy skins and their ability to express their talent on flatter terrain managed to reduce the gap from the leaders, with Michele Boscacci unable to hold Magnini’s rhythm. At Corvara the difference between the couples at the head of the race had almost halved and towards Campolongo they caught up. Brighter and more dynamic in the transition area of Arabba, Oberbacher and Drion set off like lightning, moving rapidly and leaving the two Esercito athletes behind. Enjoying the feeling of being close to victory the Italo-Belgian duo didn’t even hold back downhill, crossing the finish line after 3h04’03”. The defending champion Magnini and his comrade Boscacci nonetheless won a very honorable second place coming in 1’41” after the winners, with the Austrians Verbnjak and Hermann in third place at 5’24”. Just off the podium Nils Oberauer and Hannes Lohfeyer, came in 9’42” after the winners and then after 13’48” Jocelyn Verdenal and Yoann Sert.
In the female race the scene was dominated by the two Italian girls Alba De Silvestro and Giulia Murada. The athlete from Veneto who last year had won together with Elena Nicolini from Trentino, allowed herself to repeat the victory, while for Murada this was the first time on the «Sellaronda Skimarathon’s» highest step of the podium, participating for her first time. The ladies from Belluno and Valtellina, fresh from their fine second place at the Pierra Menta, were the leading characters of a long triumphant race, which ended with a time of 3h39’45”. Second place for the Austrian athletes who leading up to the event were considered favourites, Sarah Dreier and Johanna Hiemer, who repeated their result from 12 months ago. A new silver medal for them lagging 3’23” behind the winners. While the athlete from Vicenza Martina Cumerlato together with Anna Lena Hofer stepped on the third step of the podium after 19’36”. Finally in the mixed team category, it was victory for husband and wife Martin Anthamatten and Viktoria Kreuzer, who clocked the 20th fastest time overall (3h38’32”).

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