Cold Weather Threatens Rybinsk World Cup, Current Forecasts Favorable as Skiers Adjust

Topher SabotFebruary 3, 201212

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

Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.

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  • Martin Hall

    February 3, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Topher—-there seems to be a change in the cold weather rules—way more flexible towards the colder side—most likely trying to push the window for Television—that’s my thought from past experiences with major race organizers under the guiding hand of who ever the TD or FIS honcho on site was. If TV was live—there was always discrepancies between the organizers thermometers and the coaches. Once in Finland it was definitely below the legal limits—skiers skied in warm-up bottoms, with boot covers—but the TD said that the gun was going off at 1pm—be there or you will have missed the start—and the gun did go off. Soon after that the jusry make up changed—no more coaches on the juries.
    Minus 25 C is like -13 F—-so read below. Section 387.3.1 certainly gives the OC a lot of latitude towards way colder temperatures then in the past.
    I don’t like this ruling at all.

    387 Cold Weather Precautions
    387.1 Background
    387.1.1 There are three main factors to be considered by the Jury regarding cold weather
    safety: the temperature; the duration of the exposure; and, the clothing and other
    protection against cold weather. These factors together with any other relevant
    information such as the «wind chill factor» must be taken into consideration when
    a decision is made regarding cold weather.
    387.2 Between minus 15° and minus 25° C
    387.2.1 If the temperature level is forecast to be between minus 15°and minus 25° C at any
    point on the course, recommendations regarding cold weather protection should
    be made available to the participants. Under such conditions it is the responsibility
    of the participants to seek the information and to follow the recommendations given
    by the organiser.
    387.3 Minus 25° C and below
    387.3.1 If the temperature in a major portion of the course is minus 25° C or below, the
    competition shall be delayed or cancelled.
    387.4 Warm Weather Precautions
    387.4.1 If the temperature is forecast to rise above 5 degrees C during the course of the
    competition, and exposure to sunshine is expected, recommendations must be
    given to competitors concerning clothing, skin protection and the need to consume
    adequate liquid before and during the competition. Feeding stations must ensure
    that they have adequate drinks to meet the increased demand. First aid stations
    must be briefed to be alert for signs of dehydration or any damage from sun exposure,
    and be prepared to take necessary measures in cases of dehydration or

  • Topher Sabot, Editor

    February 3, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Thanks for the update on these rules Marty!

  • kamehameha

    February 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Martin, you are not correct. Rule 387 applies to popular cross-country races like Worldloppet marathons where licensed and non-licensed skiers can start. As for official FIS races rule 303 apply to them, and in my opinion it became less flexible to cold compare to what it was few years ago. If I remember correctly, before it was allowed to held an event up to either -22C or even -25C (with some restrictions towards humidity etc) but maybe I’m wrong. In any case, right now rule 303 apply to World Cup events:
    303.2.2 The Jury must clarify and decide
    – whether a competition shall be postponed, interrupted or cancelled. If the temperature
    is below -20 ° C, measured at the coldest point of the course, a competition
    will be postponed or cancelled by the Jury. With difficult weather conditions (e.g.,
    strong wind, high air humidity, heavy snowfall, or high temperature) the Jury may,
    in consultation with the Team Captains of the participating teams and the doctor
    responsible for the competition, postpone or cancel the competition.

  • kamehameha

    February 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    What kind of penalties will be applied to men teams of Sweden and Norway for not complying with the rule 3.2? Will they need to skip next weekend at Nove Mesto as well? are there any other penalties?

    3.2 Participation and Penalties
    The 5 best nations (Ranking Team World Cup 2010/11) according to the
    gender ranking (Top 4 Ladies’ Teams and top 5 Men’s Teams) have to start in
    all the World Cup competitions during the season 2011/12 except one FIS
    World Cup weekend.
    If a team has a quota of:
    5 and more at least 3 athletes have to start

    If those teams are not attending one of the World Cup competitions, these
    teams have no right to start at the following World Cup weekend.

  • Lars

    February 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Ulvang has said that Sweden will not be punished for skipping cause i think the team can skip one weekend per season.

    Peronally i hope Norway keeps to what they have done before and skips the races if the temperature gets belove -15C

  • kamehameha

    February 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Lars, do you have a link to this Ulvang’s statement? Where and when did he say that? For me this rule means that even if you skipped one weekend you are not allowed to start on the next one…

  • anchskier

    February 3, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    kamehameha – I see what you are saying, but it wouldn’t make much sense if a team was allowed by the rules to miss just one weekend in a season (as you quoted in rule 3.2), but then the rules make them ineligible to race the following weekend as a result of missing the one they were allowed to (resulting in them missing two weekends).

  • davord

    February 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Sucks for the Russians, there are either very few racers or the weather is too cold for their annual WC races. I guess the only positive for them is that their skiers will be picking up the points, adding to the Nations Cup, but I’m not sure that’s the best way to earn your points and prize money, you’d rather race the best to earn your spurs.

    What’s interesting to me about these Russian WC’s is that the German Eurosport commentators were saying how in most the Russian public doesn’t really cheer on ‘foreigners.’ The commentators said if there were Russians in the heats, then there would be some excitement, otherwise no support for other teams. To put it in simpler terms, they said foreign skiers get sort of a ‘cold’ treatment. I wonder if skiers that are racing there now and ones that have raced there in the past can confirm this.

  • kamehameha

    February 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    anchskier, Yeah, I agree that how they wrote rules is kind of ambiguous and you can turn it either way around.. But the second part is also a quotation from 3.2 which says: “If those teams are not attending one of the World Cup competitions, these
    teams have no right to start at the following World Cup weekend.” I would think that this rule says that you can skip it once but after that you will be penalized with forced skipping of the next event…

  • Lars

    February 4, 2012 at 4:11 am

    I think the rules shud be you have to go to each event, but do not have to race them. Cause if a team drops out due to concern about the cold i do not think that is wrong.

  • Martin Hall

    February 4, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Topher–sorry for that—I’m the dope!!!!!!!!

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