Esther Bottomley and the La Diagonela

The La Diagonela is a new classic ski marathon held in the beautiful Engadine Valley in Switzerland. This 65km event has been included as part of the Swix Ski Classic series and thus attracted a large field including all the pro-teams. Due to lack of snow the race was shortened to 42km.

Racers in the La Diagonela cross a bridge near Zouz. Pic taken from http://www.swixskiclassics.com

Australian Esther Bottomley competed with for her Italian Pro-Team – Team Xcalibur Lillsport. She finished in 14th position in a time of 2:41.08 just behind two Norwegians and in front of a girl from the Czech Republic.

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Esther Bottomley (15) of Team Xcalibur Lillsport skiing behind Sweden’s Nina Lintzen (5) from Team Ski ProAm

AusXC received the follow report from Esther about her weekend:

“La Diagonela was scheduled as a 65km classic, due to lack of snow the course was changed to 3X15km, and wow was it tough! Half of each lap was flattish up the valley floor, then the second half climbed up and down the sides of the valley. Some of these climbs were really long and steep and we had to climb them each lap which meant each climb X3! To make it more interesting in snowed 20cm overnight. In the morning the temperature was around 0 to -2 degrees and it was still snowing. It continued snowing till around 10 minutes after the start and then it totally stopped. In consideration of the weather I went choose zeros/multi/micro skis.

Lap one was great with zeros/mulit/micro skis, lap two and three there was no grip on the ups, the downs where shaky and the tracks almost non existent with people doing laps and the skidoo following the leaders, it made for some very interesting and sketchy skiing.

The first 5km was fun, no one wanted to lead along the flat so all the elite women (we started 15 minutes ahead of the men, same as last week) skied very slowly together. As soon as we hit the second uphill Seraina Boner (Swiss, 2nd in overall rankings of the Swix Ski Classics Series) went for it and the group split up. The last two laps were difficult with the conditions however this was the same for most of the women, two of the ‘elite’ women went ‘sans wax’ so for them the later laps would have been better with it becoming more slick and harder for the people striding up the hills. It was very impressive that they could double pole those hills!

The overall race was really interesting. For the women there was a three way sprint for the line with World Cup skier Masako Ishida winning over Katerina Smutna from Austria and Seraina Boner from Switzerland.

In the men’s race Sweden’s Bill Impola went off the front and was leading the pack by a good minute, until the last 2km when he missed the finish turn off to the finish and continued on for a forth lap. It took another 2km for him to be told he was going the wrong way at which point the chase group crossed the finish line and Impola DNF.”

For full results from the La Diagonela click here.

Esther currently sits in 16th place in the overall rankings of the Swix Ski Classics after competing in two of the first four events. Next weekend the series goes to Italy for the Marcialonga which Esther will skip to allow her body an extra week to recover. She will then re-join her team in Germany for the Konig Ludwig Lauf, a 50km classic which is also the German World Loppet event.

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