The first FIS Cross-country World Cup competition of the 2009 season in Gallivare, Sweden this weekend has attracted the male and female overall champions from last season. Lukas Bauer of the Czech Republic is scheduled to compete in the men’s 15-kilometer race while Virpi Kuitunen is expected to ski in the women’s 10-kilometer event.
But the main draw likely will be Charlotte Kalla, Sweden’s top cross-country skier who was born in Gallivare and lives about 700 kilometers (about 400 miles) away in Oestersund. Kalla, 21, finished fourth in the World Cup standings last season and won the Tour de Ski in her event debut.
â€œWe expect a lot of spectators just because she is racing here,â€ Gunnar Pettersson, a media officer for the race, said today by phone from Sweden. â€œThe last time we had a World Cup race here in 2006, there were 12,000 people here over two days. Depending on the weather, there could be 10,000 people here just on Saturday.â€