Skarverennet 2011 in Norway is scheduled for Saturday, April 30 and is considered the ultimate season finale for both the biathlon and cross country World Cup racers, as well as 12,000 registered skiers of all stripes and ambitions.
April was among the warmest on record, ruining the hopes of Easter ski touring for many Norwegians last week, and accordingly, Skarverennet organizers are swamped with concerned participants who wonder whether the race is going to be cancelled. However, four days prior to the event, race organizers and groomers are optimistic.
But the race won’t happen without some serious effort the next days. While groomers have tended to the race course for a long time already, final emergency touch ups are needed to save the course from the forces of nature. The 38-kilometer race starts at Finse and finishes at Ustaoset. Most of the race course is on the tundra above tree line along the base of the mountain Hallingskarvet. There are no concerns about the course for this portion of the race, as the temperatures still drop well below freezing for part of the day.
The last few kilometers of the course present the biggest challenge: the descent down to the finish at Ustaoset. The snow pack on this part of the course is critically low. However, the weather forecast is promising with freezing temperatures for the coming nights, which will help preserve the existing snow pack. Additionally, the race organizers will add truckloads of snow from higher elevations every day up until race start. Creeks and bogs will be drained to lead water away from the course, and the groomers have extensive experience with optimizing snow conditions, the race organizers report.
The organizers have decided to adjust the finish area somewhat for the elite racers, but will stick to the new format where spectators can see the racers for a longer loop in the finish area and the final push is an uphill finish chute.
Race organizers say they will make last minute decisions on the course up until the race start on Saturday. After all, racer safety and an enjoyable experience are the most important considerations.
April 26, 2011. Press release from Skarverennet, translation by Inge Scheve
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.