According to Vegard Ulvang, the Cross-Country Committee Chairman, this year’s the mini-tour in Kuusamo (FIN) is a test-event and it will be evaluated in the spring as to whether to make the Kuusamo mini-tour a permanent part of the World Cup calendar.
“I will be speaking a lot with the athletes during and after the event to get a clear rating from their perspective,” Randall said to FasterSkier. “I am personally on the fence about this mini-tour concept.”
Much needed attention
On one hand, Randall likes the idea of cross-country capitalizing on the increased TV-viewership that comes with these tour-type events. As the Kuusamo events serve as the World Cup season opener for Nordic Combined and ski jumping, the weekend attracts more media attention than a regular cross-country World Cup double-header.
“Especially with all the journalists here for the Nordic Opening, these races should get good attention,” she said, noting that for her personally, the mini tour might be a great addition.
“I am very curious to see how I can do at this 3-stage back-to-back-to-back format of racing. With my increasing distance ability, I think it could be a good event for me,” Randall said.
Too much too early
On the flip side, Randall is concerned that by adding the overall time component, and with each individual stage only worth half World Cup points, the sprint race is being devalued. She is also skeptical of adding a longer event weekend to the early season World Cup schedule.
“I also feel that with an already packed Period I racing schedule, it is better to have two races instead of three this early in the year to allow for a little more training during the week, and thus better longevity through the season,” Randall said.
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.