After a great experience skiing in Norway last year, I can’t wait to book a trip for the upcoming 2019-2020 ski season. I would love to ski the Birkebeinerrennet again someday, but I want to try some of the other big-name races around Europe first. Races on my must-ski list include the Vasaloppet in Sweden (a very long 90km race with lots of history), the Marcialonga in Italy (known for great views of the Dolomites and picturesque villages), and the Engadin Ski Marathon in Switzerland. While I have been aware of the Engadin Ski Marathon for a while, my interest was piqued after talking to a couple of the race organizers while on the train back to Oslo last winter. Since the Engadin is also the race that fits best with my teaching schedule, it seems like the perfect destination race for 2020. Looking at the pictures of the stunning mountain views around St. Moritz on the race website, it is easy to see why this race is hugely popular, attracting over 14,000 skiers in recent years.
In some ways, the Engadin race should be quite a bit easier than last year’s Norwegian Birken. It’s a shorter course (42km instead of 54km), it doesn’t cross a mountain range (in fact it is a bit downhill), an extra 8lb backpack is not required, and it’s a freestyle race (you can choose to race in the tracks or skate). Of course, it will still be a challenge since the average speeds are much faster too. Also new this year, I’ll be traveling with my own support crew - my wife and son are coming along to cheer me on!
Our airfare is already booked. Next March, we’ll fly from Minneapolis to Zurich. Then, we’ll board a train to Chur, and finally transfer to a smaller mountain rail line that will bring us into the Engadin valley. The race itself will follow the valley from Maloja to Zuoz passing through many towns along the way, including the famous luxury ski resort of St. Moritz.
In addition to thousands of recreational ski racers like myself, this race also attracts some big names in cross country skiing. Last year, 4-time Olympic champion Dario Cologna from Switzerland won the race in 1 hour and 22 minutes with Jean-Marc Gaillard less than a second behind. Hopefully, the 2020 version will feature world-class skiers as well.
Beyond the race, we plan to explore some of the other winter sights around the valley before heading to southern Spain to finish up the rest of Spring Break week. It should be a great end to 2020 ski season!