TOBLACH, Italy — With the World Cup circuit resuming on Saturday (after a weekend off two weeks out from the Olympics), Toblach organizers have a bit of a problem on their hands: too much snow.
According to FasterSkier’s on-site reporter Gerry Furseth, there was no official training on Friday “as the heavy snow made for unusual skiing conditions.”
Most of the 5-kilometer loop, which will be used for Saturday’s 10 and 15 k classic individual starts, was covered with about 15 centimetres (6 inches) of new snow as of 9 a.m. on Friday.
“By 11:00, it was challenging skiing in wet, falling snow,” according to Furseth. “The snowcats were busing removing snow from the stadium to keep it as built. The road to Cortina was closed most of the day and the ski trail to Cortina was 30 cm deep.
‘The ‘Saskia’ 5k loop is brutal,” added Furseth, who’s from Vancouver, B.C. “Skiing the loop after it was freshly reset, I spent 2/3rds of my time striding. None of the climbs are as long as Canmore, but they are ramps (constant slope, very straight). The downhills are pretty easy if the track is in good shape and your legs are loaded with lactic. Except for the stadium, the double-poling sections are false flats, not much fun in snow-filled tracks. Like Val di Fiemme, the philosophy seems to be to get the descending done quickly, so the steep climing can resume.”
Furseth was in Val di Fiemme, Italy, for the first day of Junior/U23 World Championships on Wednesday.
“Unlike Val di Fiemme, the snow feels pure, natural, and skis much drier than it looks,” he explained. “Val di Fiemme was at least 80% manmade, and skied wet and fast, with that squirrely feel skating that resulted in lots of crashes on sprint day. At Toblach, all the crash ‘sitzmarks’ were right after snow drifts, where the boots drag in the deep snow.”
As for Saturday’s classic races, Switzerland’s Dario Cologna is on the World Cup start list for the first time this season following an ankle injury in late fall. He has three World Cup wins in his career (including stages) in 15 k classic races.
If you’re following North Americans, here’s who’s on the start list for Saturday. Racing will continue Sunday with freestyle sprints.