Gone are the days where you could go and visit former Worlds and Olympic sites and expect to find great 25 kilometer “official” championship loops in addition to a number of other options – at least if Oberstdorf, Germany – the site of the 2005 Worlds sets the new standard.
The ski stadium in Reid (Oberstdorf) has only 8.5 kilometer of total trails! The stadium and trails are new and moved from where Worlds was held in 1987. The classic course is only 3.75 k long. The skate course is equally long (or short?). The new trails were used for pre Worlds last season. The sprint course was especially tough with two hard uphills.
Worlds visitors can ski or walk to the scenic stadium since its only three kilometers from town.
Places like Calgary, Holmenkollen, and Seefeld’s with great “long loops” are still super places to ski race but World Cup and Championship sites are shortening the trails in order to make “made for media and spectator” events.
Gone are the days where the skiers individually left the stadium (looking good) and came back an hour later (looking bad) and only a very few knew what was going on.
Short loops now makes it possible for the TV cameras to follow every inch of every race. Not one pole break, sprint, acceleration, feed, split, fight or crash will be missed. Mass-starts, sprints, short loops and wider trails have changed the sport. Cross Country skiing has become a TV watcher and spectator dream come through. and most people now know who is leading and who won the race – the person that crossed the finish line first!
The traditionalists can’t stand it but I have to admit that despite having enjoyed many (long) hours as a coach out on the race tracks giving splits, feeding or video taping, this is the way to go – THIS IS THE FUTURE!