With frigid temperatures predicted for the weekend, the World Cup races in Rybinsk, Russia have been questionable all week, though current forecasts appear favorable.
Earlier in the week, highs for the two-race set on Saturday and Sunday were forecast below the International Ski Federation (FIS) legal limit of -4F (-20C).
But Weather Underground now posts a high of 0F for Saturday, warming from overnight lows of -11F, and a downright balmy high of 14F on Sunday.
Windchill is predicted to drop the apparent temperature to an arctic -27F. FIS regulations call for automatic postponement or cancellation of an event if the temperature “measured at the coldest point of the course” is below -4F.
In regards to windchill and other extenuating factors the race jury, “in consultation with the team coaches of the participating teams and medical personnel responsible for the competition, postpone or cancel the competition.”
FIS News reports that overall World Cup leader Dario Cologna, will not compete due to the cold.
According to NRK, on Monday, the German team also withdrew, and FIS says the Swedes have bowed out as well
“Right now it is between 25 and 30 (C) below in Rybinsk. We take no chances,” German Head Coach Jochen Behle told NRK.
It appears the Germans may have changed their minds as many of the top skiers are on the start list, and while no Swedish men are competing, the women are well represented, led by Charlotte Kalla.
Like the Swedes, the Finnish men are sitting this one out, though top women are racing.
Petter Northug (NOR) and Lukas Bauer (CZE) will not race either, though their plans were set well before frigid temperatures were assured.
Bauer has been training at altitude and will compete in the Czech National Championships, while Northug is focusing his efforts on the Vasaloppet, and will race only one World Cup weekend, in Nove Mesto, before the 90km ski marathon in March.
Marit Bjoergen (NOR) will race despite the cold temperatures. She is locked in a tight battle with rival Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) for the overall World Cup lead.
Kowalczyk took over the yellow jersey for the first time this season when she won the freestyle sprint in Moscow on Thursday.
Bonus seconds will be awarded in Saturday’s freestyle mass start competition—at 6k in the women’s 10k race, and at 6k and 11k in the men’s 15k race.
60 men and 53 women are currently scheduled to start, the biggest fields in Rybinsk in some years.
This stop on the World Cup has regularly become a favorite to skip in preparation for major championship events. But with no such races this year many of the top skiers are in Russia—though a full 28% of the men’s field consists of Russians.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.