This is the first of a series of articles previewing the 2011 Sparkling Hill Masters World Cup, which is coming to Sovereign Lake and Silver Star Mountain March 3 to 11, 2011. Sovereign Lake and Silver Star Mountain Resort, which is a short drive from Vernon, British Columbia, are gearing up for about 1,200 master skiers to ascend on the area starting February.
“What I am totally excited about is the buzz that is building here for this event. Both skiers and non-skiers are getting very excited about hosting the world here in the Okanagan. This excitement is going to have direct positive impact to everyone involved. Skiers may be coming for a race, however they will also get the warm hospitality and appreciation of a community loves to host great events,” says Brad Clements, event manager for the 2011 Sparkling Hill Masters World Cup.
A legacy of elite competitions – The 2011 Sparkling Hill Masters World Cup is hosted at Sovereign Lake Nordic Ski Club, a veteran organizer of Nor-Am Continental Cups, as well as World Cups at Silver Star in 1991 and at Sovereign Lake 2005, the MWC race courses will feature epic trails and world-class grooming.
Silver Star Nordic Director Glenn Bond, is involved with the 2011 MWC from the Silver Star end of the operations. Bond, who raced on the international circuit from 1992 to 2002 and tried out for the Canadian team for the 2002 Olympics, was also instrumental in organizing the 2005 World Cup, and knows what it takes to put on elite international racing. The success continued with Silver Star hosting several of the national teams in preparation for the 2008 World Cup in Canmore. Many of those teams returned to prepare for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
“Leading up to the Olympics, we had ten teams here training, including cross-country, biathlon and a couple of Paralympics teams,” Bond says. “There were 98 medals won at the 2010 Olympics by athletes who had trained at Silver Star, and we celebrated that here.”
The elevation at Sovereign Lake is 1,664 meters/5,500 feet and is a part of the Silver Star Provincial Park. Combined with Silver Star Mountain, there are more than 100 kilometers of groomed trails between the two connected trail systems. The elevation at the Silver Star nordic trails ranges from 1,609 meters/5,280 feet at the village and 1,915 meters/6,280 feet at the summit.
The race courses – To accommodate the FIS standards for the Masters World Cup, Sovereign Lake had to cut a whole new trail, the 3-kilometer Carl Wylie trail. The new trail hooks up to existing trails, and helps keep the courses within the FIS rules, stating that MWC courses can only have half the vertical of standard World Cup courses. While racers in the younger age categories will use combinations of the existing World Cup courses, the new trail and the connectors, the older racers will stay on flatter terrain closer to the stadium, Bond says.
Sovereign Lake also had to construct a bridge in the stadium area. The bridge allows the organizers to run several competitions simultaneously without racers crossing each others paths, Bond explains.
Maps of the venue, the stadium and the race courses as well as the course profiles are posted on the event web site http://www.mwc2011.com/index.php/venue.
Climate and snow conditions – Historically, over the last five years, early March has provided an average natural snow depth of 200 cm, daily minimum temperature average of -7.1 C, daily maximum temperature average of -0.5 C, and beautiful blue sky days, says Clements.
“You then combine this with over 100 kilometers of beautifully groomed trails through a forest on varied terrain and you begin to get something special. Finally you top it off with a passionate nordic community – Sovereign Lake Nordic Club is the largest in North America with over 1,500 members – and a quaint mountain village (Silver Star), and truly have something special,” says Clements, who can barely wait for the racers to arrive.
In terms of what to expect, racers should prepare for soft conditions.
“March is a big snow month here at Silver Star,” Bond says, noting that there will be plenty of fresh snow and most likely no transformed or old snow. Temperature average for the first part of March is around -5 C, but can range from about freezing to -15 C, Bond says.
Despite the altitude, Sovereign Lake and Silver Star is fairly humid, even if the snow appears dry and fluffy. In wax speak, that translates to HF waxes.
“Swix HF8, CF8 are must-haves. So is Toko HF Yellow and HF Red, and Toko JetStream and Toko speed powders,” Bond says.
“On the grip wax side, racers want to make sure to have the Rode Multigrade 0 to -2 C, and Swix Extra Blue, for sure.”
Facilities, wax testing and warmup – Wax testing areas at Sovereign Lake will feature a combination of both sun-exposed and shaded trails in order to give racers and wax techs the best possible picture of what conditions will be like on the actual race course, Clements says. He is also promising a large warm-up area, with tracks and different terrain features, to allow skiers to prepare for their competitions.
Most hotels and accommodations in Silver Star, which is only 5 kilometers from Sovereign Lake, are used to World Cup racers and offer covered waxing facilities, either as designated wax rooms or let racers set up in underground parking garages. Many of the vacation homes and rentals also have wax rooms or garages where skiers can set up their benches, Bond said. There will also be waxing accommodations at the venue. Sovereign Lake will offer a wax tent with power on-site during the event, Clements says, noting that it will not be heated unless unusually cold temperatures descend on the area.
“At this point we have no plans for heat. If we get an extreme cold snap like they did in Falun, we will pull out the heaters,” he says.
“We also have under contract with each accommodation provider to make a wax room available at their location,” Clements adds.
Wax services and supplies – Stüssi Sport Ski Shop in Vernon is the official supplier of wax services and equipment for the MWC. The shop will offer both supplies and full wax services at the venue, which will allow racers to drop off their skis before an event and pick them up race-ready.
Wax services will range from a full-on prep including glide, fluoro powders and kick waxing, or any portion of that. Stüssi employs two wax techs who both have completed level 4 wax clinics, the highest level of certification in Canada. Additionally, they will have four to six assistant wax techs to help meet the demand.
Stüssi will also add a Silver Star location to their operations in Vernon, have hired three full-time employees just for the MWC and brushed up on their language skills to serve the athletes in the best possible way, Theresa Korobanik explained. Korobanik is one of the Stüssi owners and a veteran of supporting elite events at Silver Star and Sovereign Lake. Having served several World Cups and Nor-Am Continental Cup events, Stüssi’s owners are expecting to work around the clock for the duration of the events.
“We’re hoping this will be bigger than anything that has been here before,” Korobanik says. “I hope to be able to jump in a race or two, but hopefully we’ll be so busy here that racing will not be an option for me,” she adds with a smile.
Typically, a World Cup or Continental Cup will attract 300 to 400 athletes, coaches and support staff. The MWC has the potential to be three times as big, she notes. Accordingly, the owners have stocked up on everything from clothes to wax, accessories, tools and equipment, as well as items that might be useful to those traveling by air.
“We’ve made sure we have a lot of wax removers and other products that people can’t take on the plane,” Korobanik says, noting that the store carried most lines of wax products, including Holmenkol, which is new for them this year.
Waxes to bring – Swix, Rode, Toko, Vauhti, Ski Go and Start have all been staples at Silver Star and Sovereign Lake for years.
“We know what works here and we make sure to have those,” Korobanik says.
“Cera F is always fast here, Vauhti waxes work well here, and Ski Go is also proven here,” she notes.
The shop will also carry a full line of skis, poles and boots from all the major manufacturers. This year, Korobanik notes that they have stocked more Zero skis than in the past, given that MWC is in March.
“March is a big snow month here, and depending on the temperature, the Zero might just be the ski of the day and something that some of the racers might not have in their quiver,” she says, adding that normally, temperatures stay below freezing in March, but that you just never know.
Of course, they will carry race poles, and have made sure they have a lot.
“Race poles can break,” Korobanik says with a smile that reveals that she has some experience with that.
For specific questions, hours and contact information, visit http://www.stussisport.com.
The MWC environment and atmosphere – The closeness of the venue to the main accommodations will make for a special atmosphere and encourage bonding between teams, athletes and families at the MWC.
“We’re very excited to host the Masters World Cup. The environment of the village is magic, and with most of the racers staying in the village, the awards ceremonies and opening and closing ceremonies here at the resort, the athletes will meet their friends and competitors a lot more. If they were staying at hotels scattered all over town and returning there after races, there wouldn’t be that socializing,” says Bond, noting that the MWC will have skiers from 28 countries.
Silver Star Mountain Resort and Sovereign Lake at a Glance
Quick facts about Silver Star Mountain Resort/Sovereign Lake:
- 105 kilometers/62 miles of Nordic trails groomed daily
- 2 trail systems connected as one – Sovereign Lakes Nordic Center (2011 Masters World Cup venue) and Silver Star Mountain Resort
- Average temperature -5 C/23 F
- 700 cm/23 feet of light dry snow annually
- Four trail-side warming cabins
- Lift access to upper trail network
- National Altitude Training Centre (gym, sauna, spa)
- Ski-in/ski-out accommodations to suit every budget
- 13 restaurants, boardwalk shopping in the village
- Award-winning Nordic instructors
- Free guided mountain tours
- Tube Town Adventure Park – fun for the whole family
- Exciting weekly events and activities throughout the season
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.