Engading skimarathon 1976

The power of pairs: ODLO, the Engadin Skimarathon and the history of two greats 

ODLO and the Engadin Skimarathon have announced a partnership extension through 2027. In the lead-up to the 53rd Engadiner, let’s look back at how both organisations have grown, inspiring generations of cross-country skiers to keep going.

BY : MARK COHEN • Ski • 15.12.2022

March 1969. Former ski racer Albert Scheuing has an idea. He wants to host a cross-country skiing race in the Engadin region of Switzerland. One of the country’s grandest, most frequently visited stages. 

Energized at the prospect, he orders start bibs for 250 participants. He outlines a set of race rules – the main one being that anyone can enter the 42km race… provided they can cross the finish line in six hours or less.  

As the race date nears, interest floods in. Just under a thousand cross-country skiers sign up. He taps a local postal worker with a skidoo and a “töffli” (a mini motorcycle) to prep the track. 

Meanwhile in Norway, ODLO – an established but growing apparel company still run by its founder, Odd Lofterød Sr. – has been experimenting with a new synthetic fibre called Helanca. He uses it to create an elastic, heat-regulating suit for cross-country skiers and speed skaters unlike anything athletes have ever seen.  

The following year at the 1964 Olympics, national teams are wearing the suit. That includes the entire Norwegian national team, which wins a raft of medals at the Innsbruck games. In 1972 at the Sapporo Olympics, 25 national teams are wearing another ODLO innovation – the ODLO Thermic. It’s the first fully synthetic base layer that wicks sweat to keep athletes dry – and all this in the pre-sponsorship era when teams had to pay for kit themselves.  

In the years that follow, both ODLO and the Engadiner forge new paths. Engadin Skimarathon numbers swell — while ODLO continues to design with innovative fabrics that receive industry awards. Both would inspire generations of skiers and their performance apparel. Empowering skiers to explore landscapes that capture the imagination and test their mettle.  

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ODLO heritage 1
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The Engadin Skimarathon’s enduring appeal 

Today Engadin Skimarathon registrations outnumber the 14,200 start bibs they allocate each year. Meanwhile, ODLO continues creating performance apparel for everyday athletes; this season, the Langnes jacket is one of the sport’s highest performing, designed for people who want to push limits. 

Interestingly, the things that have set the world’s second biggest Skimarathon race apart also characterise ODLO itself – details, performance and setting. 

“When I stood at the start of the Engadin Ski Marathon for the first time, a shiver ran down my spine,” remembers Jana Hautle, a secondary teacher from Appenzell, Switzerland. “I felt like I was part of something big. Something incredibly beautiful.” 

Jana did her first Engadin Skimarathon in 2022 and was impressed by the event's positive energy. Everyone was working together, she remembers. “You can see and feel that people are doing this with their whole heart.”

Barbara Aeschbacher – the mayor of Sils in Engadin, Grisons, Switzerland – echoes the same sense of community. “I’ve participated in the Engadin Skimarathon 11 times and ten times in the Engadin Women's Run. I’m still fascinated by the sporting experience with many like-minded people: the atmosphere, the landscape and the challenge to beat my own best time.

“Each year brings similar highlights: the excitement and tension before the start, the cheering of family and friends on the way and the pride and relief at the finish.” This year – at the 53rd edition of the event – she expects nothing less. 

1988 Andi Grünenfelder
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1988 Andi Grünenfelder & Christine Brügger

ODLO @ the Engadiner 

With the 2023 Engadiner just months away — and to celebrate one of ODLO’s proudest partnerships – we’ve created ODLO at the Engadiner. A contest in which participants will win performance apparel, represent ODLO as they train and eventually race and much more. 

Get more details about ODLO at the Engadiner. Meanwhile, as the falling snow marks the start of cross-country skiing season, we hope to see you at the local track soon for training. 

ODLO x Engadin
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