Hosting a Virtual Ski Event

Gerry FursethDecember 21, 2020
Virtual Race Courses Look Different: An action photo from a time trial at Sovereign Lake during the pandemic. 20 racers spread out over three hours, no officials, no spectators.

COVID19 has brought many changes to the nordic world. In many places, we can still ski. Some people can travel, some cannot. Some people live near snow, some don’t. There is no one size fits all solution to having fun while the pandemic rages, but there are a lot of potential solutions to specific needs.

The race organizers among us know how to host traditional large group races. If that is allowed, you just need to build your bubble plus testing regime, and off you go. That’s certainly more difficult than it sounds. For the rest of us with smaller budgets, outside-the-box thinking is mandatory.

This is the beginning of a series exploring recipes for hosting your own virtual ski event. We are all learning as we go and the only FasterSkier staffer who knows everything about everything is too busy studying medicine, which means we need your help to build a better resource. Tell us about event types we have overlooked, better ways to categorize events, solutions that worked for your running or mountain biking club, or even just ways to use the solutions we have already found. Write up your own solution or event and let us all learn from you. (You can leave a comment or email directly.)

Most of the examples cited below can be done with self-timing or GPS timing. GPS makes it harder to cheat, but it isn’t that hard. The easiest way to stop cheating is to reduce the awards. Sadly, some people will cheat to get their name on top of a digital list; if that is your biggest problem in 2020, it is time to throw a (virtual) party.

For some ideas on how to convert the ideas and examples below into your event, see Virtual Event Hosting: Things to Think About.

The collection of recipes will grow as the community adds ideas. Just as there is more than one oatmeal cookie recipe on the internet, there can be multiple event recipes based on the same tools. As with any recipe book, both the ideas and the detailed steps are just a starting point, an inspiration to making something your own.

Types of Event:

With real examples where we have found them and explanations of how some events were created.

  • Pick your own start time on a fixed course.
    • This could be a Strava segment or any specific route that everyone skis.
    • Caledonia Nordic has announced the Grand Tour, built on zone4.
    • Create a Strava club, make a segment for each race, and invite the registered entrants to join the club. Here’s a recipe.
    • Have races scan a QR code to record times using WebScorer.
  • Pick your own course, single sport.
    • Many running series did this over the summer. Run at least 5km anywhere in the world and upload a photo of your gps watch or your gpx file as proof.
    • WebScorer has a blog with one solution here for self-reported results.
  • Pick your own course, multi-sport.
    • For visitors who can’t visit, selected distances with sport options to suit the areas your participants live in. 
    • The Kangaroo Hoppet was in lockdown in August with the trails closed. People chose one of the distances and a sport they could do at home. As Australians in some states could only go outside for two hours, the distance could be done over multiple days. The road cyclists dominated the result sheet, but the roller skiers had the best photos.
    • The Merino Muster had both a virtual event and an on-snow event. The on-snow portion was postponed a few weeks for safety reasons, only local skiers could attend. This wasn’t as polished as the Hoppet, possibly because the OC had two parallel events with conflicting demands.
  • Club/Group Challenges
    • A participation based competition between areas or organizations. Kilometres or hours are easy to do. Even miles if you live in Myanmar, Liberia, or what was that third non-metric country again. Some form of per capita ranking will be needed if there is a large disparity in sizes.
    • Nordiq Canada and are creating a kilometre-based challenge for all of Canada that will start in January. More detail on how they are building this is forthcoming, but here is a FAQ from while you are waiting.
    • Nordiq Canada has partnered with iSKI and FIS for a kids challenge, also starting in January. More information pending after this initiative is announced.
  • Ski every trail in the system.
    • Difficulty depends on how big your trail system is, but it is a mental and physical challenge to find the shortest route the covers every trail and finishes where it started. Mathematicians call this kind of problem NP-complete, which means you have to try every possible route to be certain you found the shortest. At this author’s home system, there are millions of possible routes, and the shortest path to ski all 50km of trail is likely to be about 75km long.
  • Almost Real
    • Some places have the pandemic under control and have more freedom to get together for almost normal ski racing. Take my Covid expert’s advice to ‘be kind’ and celebrate those who have more opportunity than you.
    • The Great Bear Chase has changed to have smaller waves and more of them.



Gerry Furseth

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