Climb This: Di Centa, Shevchenko Win 33d Gran Prix Skiroll

Giorgio di Centa and Valentyna Shevchenko won the Skiroll Sportful Gran Prix rollerski race on Sunday, 2 October.  On an unseasonably warm autumn day, a field loaded Olympians and world champions showed up for this uphill ski race.

Taking place in the Dolomite Mountains in northeast Italy on , the course snakes 8.75 k uphill to the Croce d’Aune, with an average grade of nearly 8%.  Fresh pavement laid down a few weeks prior made for fast times, ameliorating the heat of the day somewhat.

From the start, four-time Olympic medalist Pietro Piller Cottrer pulled a train that included Valerio Checchi, Thomas Morrigl and di Centa, who won gold in the 50 k at the 2006 Winter Olympics.

At around two k, Moriggl pulled away, but di Centa, coming off a tendon injury, closed the gap and pulled away in the last kilometer for victory.  Finishing in 30:39, di Centa set a new course record.  He won ahead of Morrigl, in second place at 31:10, and Checchi in third at 32:03.

In the women’s race, Ukrainian Shevchenko controlled the pace early, fighting Seraina Boner and teammate Marina Antsybor.  With three k to the finish, Shevchenko attacked and finished with a 100 meter gap on Boner.  Shevchenko’s winning time was 37:44, ahead of Boner in second place at 38:33 and Virginia de Martin at 38:45.

The video below was filmed at a hairpin turn about three k into the race.  Coming up to the turn, everybody’s skiing V2.  It’s interesting to see who maintains V2 technique on the steep bit after the apex, and who resorts to V1.  Later in the video, there are a few people rolling classic.  Editor’s note:  I love the unusual choice of music here: post-cool bop, Miles Davis-influenced mid-60s jazz.