MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — Masters World Cup organizers had to make a fast change on Thursday partway through its classic distance races when a train parked itself on the course.
“We had a lot of plans going into this race,” 2018 Masters World Cup Chief of Competition Nels Dyste explained. “We had plans for road crossings, we had plans for snow, we had plans for low year snow, plans for high snow. Unfortunately, the railroad did not coordinate very well with us.”
This meant a quick route change on the 15-kilometer course to keep skiers moving, but difficulty in keeping the course the same for all racers.
Monday’s snowstorm allowed for the expansion of Theodore Wirth Park’s manmade loop to the other side of the golf course across a road, where the natural course crosses over train tracks. The train, which parked at that very spot around 10 a.m., diverted later-starting skiers back to the hillier, manmade loop creating a lack of consistency in distance. The early 15 k races, and men’s and women’s 1-6 age groups were unaffected.
“We’re still sorting it out,” Dyste said on the Thursday. “Fortunately, with electronic timing, we have chip checks all over the course and are kind of piecing together what race courses people went on.
“We’ve run almost a hundred races on that section, doing that same crossing,” he continued. “We’ve never had any issue on that.”
Racers took the changes in stride. Laurel Smith, 60, of Jackson, New Hampshire, noted course marshals helped direct racers to the new route.
“The volunteers were really good. That’s pretty amazing, being able to change a course midway through,” she said.
The race was her third of the week after competing in the women’s age group “6” 15 k skate and 10 k classic as well. She said the natural snow not only lengthened the course, but it also affected the corners on the downhills.
“By the third lap [of the 10 k shortened loop], they were getting really … piled-up snow and icy on the inside,” Smith said, adding that she met her goal in successfully navigating all the turns. She finished ninth in her age group’s 30 k on Thursday.
Some racers, like “Bad” Bob Baker of Fairbanks, Alaska, were more comfortable with the addition of more hills.
“[They] probably helped me,” Baker said. “I seem to do better against others on them, so it’s a good thing.”
Baker said he likes to come to these events to test his waxing techniques. Fairbanks relies on natural snow, so he gets to use waxes he otherwise wouldn’t when he visits places like Minneapolis.
“I nailed the wax,” he said. “It was good. I was so glad; I would’ve been hurting if I’d had to step out of the tracks.”
Baker, who competes in the men’s age group “6”, has raced all the individual classic events over the last week: the 7.5 k (shortened due to snow on Monday from 15 k), 30 k, and 40 k (shortened from 45 k). He finished 12th in the 40 k on Thursday.
A warm up is on the way for Friday’s freestyle distance races (15/30/45 k), the last day of the Masters World Cup, as is a slight course change after Thursday’s minor fiasco.
“Rest assured they’ll be all ready to go for tomorrow … with no train tracks,” Dyste said.
Day 4 Age Group (AG) Winners
Women’s 30 k Classic (3 x 10 k loops)
- AG 1: Elspeth Ronnander (USA) 1:47:31.8
- AG 2: Josie Nelson (USA) 1:41:08.4
- AG 3: Linda Hasselqvist (Sweden) 1:42:21.3
- AG 4: Bonnie Weiskopf (USA) 1:38:20.9
- AG 5: Ragnhild Bolstad (Norway) 1:36:20.8
- AG 6: Elizabeth Youngman (USA) 1:47:53.4
- AG 7: Marianne Niemi (Finland) 1:49:35.5
Women’s 20 k Classic (2 x 10 k loops)
- AG 7: Magdalena Bowen (USA) 1:15:40.5
- AG 8: Berit Hoeyvik (Norway) 1:34:12.3
Women’s 15 k Classic (3 x 5 k loops)
- AG 9: Gabriele Andersen (USA) 50:01.4
- AG 10: Gerd Lysne Johansen (Norway) 1:03:15.9
- AG 11: Patricia Kaald (USA) 1:42:37.0
Men’s 40 k Classic (4 x 10 k loops)
- AG 1: Christopher Harvey (USA) 1:56:49.3
- AG 2: Craig Cardinal (USA) 1:58:40.2
- AG 3: Andrey Lushnikov (Russia) 1:58:00.8
- AG 4: Magnus Karlsson (Sweden) 1:54:10.1
- AG 5: Truls Valmestad (Norway) 1:48:24.1
- AG 6: Jon Arne Enevoldsen (Norway) 1:51:26.5
Men’s 20 k Classic (2 x 10 k loops)
- AG 7: Carl Hoerger (USA) 1:35:32.0
Men’s 25 k Classic (1 x 15 k and 1 x 10 k loop)
- AG 7: Daniele Vuerich (Italy) 1:12:52.8
Men’s 30 k Classic (3 x 10 k loops)
- AG 7: Markus Gapany (USA) 2:15:55.1
- AG 8: Ferdinand Kraller (Germany) 2 1:17:10.5
- AG 9: Veikko Piirainen (Finland) 1:23:27.5
Men’s 35 k Classic (1 x 15 k and 2 x 10 k loops)
- AG 7: Kim Poole (Canada) 1:53:03.7
Men’s 15 k Classic (3 x 5 k loops)
- AG 10: Alpo Virtanen (Finland) 45:48.8
- AG 11: Boris Kirillov (Russia) 1:01:38.9
- AG 12: Reno Deprey (USA) 1:25:57.3
- AG 13: Charles French (USA) 1:18:09.1
About Andrea Potyondy-Smith: Andrea hails from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis (dontchya know) and has an MFA in creative writing. When she is not being an English geek, she can be found on her bike or skis, or playing in the Northwoods … typically on her bike or skis.