For cross-country ski fans, a sprint in Moscow’s Red Square might sound too good to be true. But it just might happen next winter.
According to Jurg Capol, the cross-country race director at the International Ski Federation (FIS), two new city sprints, in Milan and Moscow, are on the preliminary World Cup calendar for the 2011-2012 season. And while the exact location of the Moscow event hasn’t been decided, there’s a chance that cross-country skiing could be on display for the Kremlin.
“When we go to town, we should be somewhat in the center of town,” Capol said. “They’re checking different options, but one of [the] three is Red Square.”
The 2011-2012 season is the one in every four without an Olympics or World Championships, and according to Capol, that leaves more room in the schedule for city sprints. The events in Milan and Moscow were put forward by the Italian and Russian ski federations, respectively.
Capol has already visited the proposed venue for the sprint in Milan, which he said was a park in the middle of the city. There’s not much in the way of difficult terrain,
but Capol said that the course was a good one, and that it was wide enough to meet FIS’s specifications.
City sprints can be logistically challenging, but Capol said that siting the Milan event in a park would make things easier, since roads can be closed off ahead of time. The organizers of that event are also an experienced group—the same one that oversees races at Val di Fiemme—and only a few details remain before the race can be confirmed, Capol said.
The Moscow event is more of an unknown quantity. Before FIS commits to holding a World Cup in the city, Capol said that organizers there will have to first execute a lower-level event this winter—much like the process for a proposed new uphill-downhill format in Poland.
“We want to see that the test event works well,” Capol said. “[It] is not always that easy to bring a town sprint on a good level—everything has to be done at the last minute.”
One city sprint site that is not on the long-term FIS calendar is Quebec City, which was considered as a stage in the doomed proposal for a Canadian Tour de Ski in 2011-2012. A feasibility study for that race cited a group from the city as being “particularly interested” in hosting World Cup races in the near future.
Capol said that a sprint in Quebec could be “possible” when the World Cup returns to North America—“if they have good courses.” But before any such event could be run at the World Cup level, Capol added, Cross-Country Canada would have to organize a lower-level race first.
Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for FasterSkier, who also covers city government for the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. You can follow him on twitter @nat_herz.