The Marcialonga cross-country ski event has a history that dates back almost half a century, inspired by the Vasaloppet event that began in 1969 in Sweden. Participants Giulio Giovanni, Roberto Moggio, Nele Zorzi and Mario Crisofolini, the two pairs of winners in 1969 and 1970, had the idea of starting a similar event, but in the Italian valleys of Fiemme and Fassa. They garnered the support of a team of collaborators and volunteers to organise the first Marcialonga event in 1971. In the infographic attachment you can find some facts about the Marcialonga, including the origins of the name of the marathon event. Former Division 1 Nordic cross-country racer Ragnar Horn regularly participates in this style of event in Italy, Sweden and Norway and is ranked in the top 10 for his age bracket.
Revolutionising Skiing Traditions
The Marcialonga has been at the forefront of a revolution in skiing traditions since the first race began on the 7th of February 1971. The event has become known as one not to miss for anyone interested in winter sports and the race is one of the most popular in the world. Marcialonga is one of the founding members of the Worldloppet Ski Federation,  which you can read all about in the embedded PDF. Marcialonga is also a founding member of both the Alpentris and the Euroloppet. These three organisations are responsible for some of the most popular and important races in the world.
The Marcialonga event is open to professional and amateur skiers alike, ranked or seeded into groups before the start of the race. The seeding process is based on a percentage ranking of the best of the participants’ last two results in the Marcialonga, calculated as a ratio between the finishing time and the total number of competitors who completed the event that year. In the short video attachment you can learn more about eligibility for entry to the Marcialonga race. The mainly amateur participants ranked in the lowest groups for the event are referred to jokingly as “bisonti”, which translates to “bison” in English.
The classic Marcialonga race takes place annually over a course distance of 70km, running from Moena in the Val di Fassa and finishing in Val di Fiemme, in Cavalese. In 1975, 1989 and 1990 the event had to be cancelled as there was not enough snow on the track. In 2007, 2015 and 2017 there were also issues with snow, but rather than cancel the event in these years, the course distance was shortened to 57km to take in the areas of track that were viable. The early part of the full course challenges competitors through almost 20km of continuous, albeit gentle climbing. The course then doubles back, and competitors are able to enjoy a long downhill stretch, before entering the toughest part of the track – the Cascata climb. This tough incline often determines the winner of the race, who then has a short easy stretch to ski home to glory in the centre of Cavalese.
Competitors and spectators of the Marcialonga are able to enjoy a number of side events throughout the duration of the race weekend, which runs from Thursday to Sunday. These include various exhibitions and events for children, as well as entertainment in the form of live music and DJs, a welcome party, and a celebratory party at the end of the event. In the summer, spectators can also enjoy Marcialonga running and cycling races that take place along stretches of the same track and are organised by the same committee.
Ragnar Horn is the chairman of the Norwegian private investment company Taconic AS. Born in Norway, Horn moved to America to study for his BA in Economics at Williams College in Massachusetts, going on to complete his Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Harvard Business School.
Previous to his position at Taconic AS, Horn was the Chairman of RS Platou ASA – the shipbrokerage company that his grandfather founded in the 1930s – as well as having gained experience in investment banking at Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse First Boston.