The Ski Tour Canada starts on March 1 and we have a good idea of who will be on the start line for the two North American teams. As Canada is hosting the new World Cup tour, both Canada and the U.S. get an increased quota on top of the normal (larger) tour quota.
Canada planned to select 12 women and 14 men, and the U.S. can take up to 13 women and 11 men. With roughly 175 international athletes expected to start the eight-stage tour on March 1 in Gatineau, Quebec, the 50 North Americans will play a big role in the event.
Canada has chosen not to use discretionary picks and is using an entirely rule-based selection system. To oversimplify it, skiers with top-30 finishes this season on the World Cup are automatically selected, as are the Continental Cup (NorAm) leaders in overall, sprint and distance. The remaining places are chosen using a series of ranked rules using CPL (Canadian Points List) points, which are a variant of the FIS points list. World Cup races, U23 World Championships, and Continental Cup events from November to Feb. 21 all count towards the CPL rankings used.
The provisional selections are based on results up to Feb. 17, changes are possible from Western Canadian Championships this weekend in Prince George, B.C, and U23 World Championships next week in Rasnov, Romania.
The selection rules are a bit complicated and there is a defined selection order, making it difficult to be mathematically certain how much this could change before Feb. 22. More detail is available on the Cross Country Canada (CCC) website. The athlete order below is from CCC, but it doesn’t appear to be ranking order.
For the women, it is fairly likely that only one name will change, but there could be significant shuffling of the selection reasons, including the partially funded spot as NorAm overall leader.
|Cendrine Browne||NDST/CNEPH||NorAm overall leader|
|Andrea Dupont||Rocky Mountain Racers||NorAm sprint leader|
|Dahria Beatty||NDST/AWCA||NorAm distance leader|
|Jennifer Jackson||NDC Thunder Bay||CPLS2|
|Maya MacIsaac-Jones||Rocky Mountain Racers||CPLS1|
|Alannah Maclean||NDC Thunder Bay||4C2|
|Katherine Stewart-Jones||NDST/NDC Thunder Bay||4C3|
- CPLD#: Rank on the best 5 distance CPL
- CPLS#: Rank on the best 3 sprint CPL
- 4C#: Best 4 distance +2 sprint CPL
For the men, the selection situation is more fluid, with more changes likely. As of Feb. 18, the provisional selection was:
|Alex Harvey||NST/CNEPH||WC top 30|
|Devon Kershaw||NST||WC top 30|
|Ivan Babikov||NST||WC top 30|
|Lenny Valjas||NST||WC top 30|
|Graeme Killick||NDST||WC top 30|
|Kevin Sandau||AWCA||NorAm overall leader|
|Andy Shields||CNEPH||NorAm distance leader|
|Julien Locke||Black Jack||NorAm sprint leader|
|Brian McKeever||Para-Nordic ST||CPLD2|
|Michael Somppi||NDC Thunder Bay||CPLD1|
It is likely that only a few names will change based on the CPL, but there are at least five athletes that could find their way in.
Most of the World Cup team and some of the development team will be doing an elevation camp in the Lake Louise area. Ivan Babikov is doing the American Birkebeiner as final preparation. A number of athletes will race at Westerns this weekend, either to defend their selection, gain selection, or final intensity before STC.
Daria Beatty, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt and Kevin Sandau will race the first two days at Westerns and return to Canmore, Alberta, on Sunday. Carrier-Laforte, Jackson, Locke, Maclean, and Vezina all chose to attend U23’s in Romania, with a training stop in Austria on the way. Johnsgaard is choosing to train instead of race as his final preparation, as he did on the European B tour in January.
“The plan is to skip the Lahti World Cups this coming weekend,” Kershaw wrote in an email earlier this week from his home in Canmore. “The plan now is to train at altitude between Lake Louise, Canmore and up at a lodge up above Canmore [Engadine Lodge] for 10 days and then have some days at home here in Canmore before flying back to Ottawa two days before the whole SkiTour Canada begins!”
None of the Canadians planned to race in Lahti this weekend.
The American team used a combination of discretion and criteria to select athletes, with only one spot still open.
|Jessie Diggins||USST/SMST2||Top-30 Sprint and Distance World Cup|
|Sadie Bjornsen||USST/APU||Top-30 Sprint and Distance World Cup|
|Sophie Caldwell||USST/SMST2||Top-30 Sprint World Cup|
|Ida Sargent||USST/CGRP||Top-30 Sprint World Cup|
|Liz Stephen||USST||Top-30 Distance World Cup|
|Caitlin Gregg||USST/Team Gregg||Discretion|
|Caitlin Patterson||CGRP||SuperTour Overall Leader|
|Chelsea Holmes||APU||Distance Leader 2 after Nationals|
|Katharine Ogden||SMS/USST||Distance Leader 3 after Nationals|
|Jennie Bender||BSF||Sprint Leader 1 after Nationals|
|Kaitlynn Miller||CGRP||Sprint Leader 2 after Nationals|
|Rosie Brennan||USST/APU||Objective Crit. (WC Points Jan. 16-Feb. 21)|
U.S. Ski Team Head Coach Chris Grover explained the selections in an email.
“Adam Martin was the 3rd man on the distance list post Nationals but has declined his start spot due to the conflict with NCAAs,” he wrote of the Northern Michigan University junior. “We have left one position open on the men’s side for an outstanding performance at the U23 Champs. If we don’t have that, Matt Liebsch will be the next athlete named via the post-Nationals ST Distance CAN-Selection list. We’ll make a decision on the 25th (last day in Rasnov).”
|Simi Hamilton||USST/SMST2||Top-30 Sprint World Cup|
|Andy Newell||USST/SMST2||Top-30 Sprint World Cup|
|Eric Packer||APU||SuperTour Overall Leader|
|Scott Patterson||APU||Distance Leader 1 after Nationals|
|Brian Gregg||Team Gregg||Distance Leader 2 after Nationals|
|Reese Hanneman||APU||Sprint Leader 1 after Nationals|
|Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess||BEA||Sprint Leader 2 after Nationals|
|Tad Elliott||SSCV||Distance Leader 4 after Nationals|
Of the U.S. Ski Team members, Andy Newell, Liz Stephen, Rosie Brennan, and Caitlin Gregg returned to the U.S. early, skipping the Lahti World Cup, to prepare for the tour.
“Many of the sprinters will travel home on Sunday from Helsinki,” Grover explained of the rest of the team in Lahti. “Those doing the skiathlon will travel home on Monday. For the Alaskans, most will go to New England (Craftsbury) rather than going back to AK in a short window.”
The Continental Cup (NorAm or SuperTour) leaders have a quota spot, with accommodation and some costs covered by the organizing committee. Red Group members get the same cost reduction and most have additional financial support from their respective national team.
For the rest of the nation’s group skiers, at least in Canada, the costs have been estimated by CCC. Note that this information was published in November and was subject to change. U.S. dollars reflects the conversion rate.
|Item||Note||Original currency cost||$ CDN||$ US|
|Mandatory FIS charter flight, Montreal to Calgary||Athletes will be transported from Quebec City to airport.||895 euro||$1362||$995|
|FIS food and accommodation||This is 14 days, optional in Canmore only.||125 swiss francs||$173/night||$126/night|
|Waxing||Canadian team price||$30 CDN/race||$240||$176|
|Shipping classic skis from Montreal to Canmore||Both Quebec City races are freestyle||$35 CDN||$35||$26|
|Total for Canmore residents||Only 7 nights food and accom.||$2848|
|Total for non-Canmore residents||$4059||$2961|
|Flight to Ottawa||varies by athlete|
|Flight from Canmore||Or location where the athlete leaves the tour.||varies by athlete|
If an athlete drops out of the tour, through elimination, illness or disqualification, they pay their own way home from the last location they raced and will not be refunded for food and accommodation.
Two weeks out from the event, there was still some uncertainty on final costs and support levels for individual Canadian skiers.
“We didn’t receive any information yet,” Browne wrote in an email on Wednesday. “I think it will be pretty expensive though. But if I’m still noram leader after Westerns it’ll be less expensive for me.”
“We got a quote from the CCC administrator yesterday that the Eastern part of the Tour — including accommodation, the charter flight, and all race service fees will be just over $2000,” Jenn Jackson wrote on Friday. “Most people will be staying with friends and family in Canmore to reduce costs, but if not it’ll be about another $1000.”
“The fee does not, however, include the costs of travelling to Ottawa for the start of the Tour or back home from Canmore after – so another several hundred dollars there…” Jackson added.
In an email, Colin Abbott, of Whitehorse, explained that he will skip Westerns despite not knowing for sure whether he had qualified.
“I decided that in order to be rested for the tour I needed to take a break after Easterns,” he wrote. “I will race the tour if I qualify, hopefully I can survive the whole thing! Final costs are likely to be $3000-$4000 but haven’t been finalized yet.“
“My guess is between $2500 to $3000,” Alberta World Cup Academy Head Coach Chris Jeffries wrote of the total cost. “Western athletes in Canmore do not have to stay in the race hotel.”