Whether or not the Beitostølen World Cup gets canceled, there will be races in Scandinavia this weekend. But they will be fewer, and snow scarcity across the map is forcing remaining race organizers to get creative. Muonio, Finland and Bruksvallarna, Sweden each have three kilometers or less of the artificial stuff — snow guns can only compensate so much for nature. One thing’s for certain out on the course this weekend: it will be crowded.
For Cross Country Canada’s (CCC) development athletes currently in Sweden with the national team for the first of the new convergence trips, plans for early European racing exposure could be completely derailed. With only 2.5 k of spotty manmade snow, race organizers have eliminated Friday’s race and limited the 15 k on Saturday to 230 men and the 10 k on Sunday to 120 women, with start rights going to skiers with the highest FIS rankings.
Depending on how many athletes show up, convergence athletes may end up going home without seeing a single race.
“I really hope they can race,” said head coach Justin Wadsworth. “Hopefully they’ll get one race in Bruksvallarna.”
If they don’t, Wadsworth isn’t sure whether it will be worth keeping them in Europe until the next FIS races November 19 – 20 in Rovaniemi, Finland. “It’s not looking good,” he said, “It’s also warm up there.”
Athletes planning on heading to FIS races in Muonio, Finland found out today that they won’t have to worry about a cutoff, but the decision presents its own challenge: a very crowded course. As of today, there were only 3 k open. Muonio race organizer Heikki Kivinen confirmed that the cutoff was off the table, and noted that there would be “very many” racers starting Friday (qualifier-only classic sprint), Saturday (5/10 k skate) and Sunday (5/10 k classic).
CGRP head coach Pepa Miloucheva reported via email no one knows what the current entrant count is, as more athletes and teams have been arriving every day. But a crowded course hasn’t dampened her team’s spirits. USST/CGRP’s Ida Sargent, for one, is looking forward to getting races under her belt.
“I think it will be a valuable racing experience because there are so many fast skiers here,” said Sargent in an email. “It’s still early November and [these are] our first races of the year, so I’m more looking to put on a bib and do a few races.”
— Kieran Jones contributed reporting.
Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.