When you are born in Scandinavia it is likely that you are given skis shortly after birth, and thus entering the Arctic Triple Lofoten Skimo might be less daunting than for folks who barely ever see snow.
The Lofoten Skimo is part of the Arctic Triple together with the Lofoten Triathlon and the Lofoten Ultra-Trail. These events all take place in the Lofoten archipelago in northern Norway and all races finish in the city of Svolvaer.
The Lofoten Skimo has two distances. The shorter 12km distance event is called 1000+ and it has that name because of the over 1000 meter elevation gain that has to be overcome. The long one is called 4000+ and thus features over 4000 meters of elevation gain and a total distance of 36km. The area is beautiful, but the event is tough and so are the folks who take this on.
Those who finish all three long course races within a year are honored with the Gold Triple. And according to ace photographer Kai-Otto Melau whose fine pictures are featured below, Svein Vestoel made the Gold Triple for the second time by finishing the Lofoten Skimo. He also did all three test races, and that means that he has done 9 races in Lofoten over the last three years.
The 2018 Lofoten Skimo 4000+ was won by French athlete Matheo Jacquemoud and Norwegian Kristin Brandtsegg Lome won the women's title - and finished 3rd overall.
Ronnie Maas Pedersen showing his descending skills in front of a spectacular background.
Endurance is surely very important in this event but technical skiing skills are well found here too.
Up, up, and up we go, and ideally swiftly as demonstrated nicely by eventual winner Matheo Jacquemoud.
With full focus ready for the upcoming descent.
Norwegian Anders Joergensen on the way to 7th place.
Sometimes nature really dwarfs you.
Norwegian Sveinung Ekse was the runner-up today in 5:55:02 - 30 minutes behind the winner.
Carrying a bit of speed on the way down of this mountain.
A pack of athletes pushes on - something you don't see very often, or at least not for very long here.
The course is well marked and the conditions were favorable.
Watch out, watch out.
What comes down, must go up again. More than 4000 meters of elevation gain and that is more than 13,123 feet.
Moving stylishly towards the finish.
The impressive Svein Vestoel shows how it is done.
The sun is setting and it is very peaceful here.
All images © Kai-Otto Melau