Yesterday Norway announced it would cease sending skiers to the World Cups in Davos, Switzerland and Dresden, Germany due to Covid-19 concerns. Rumors swirled that Sweden would make a similar decision. Twenty-four hours later the Swedish Ski Federation announced they too would withdraw from December’s competitions.
“We learned some lessons about the implementation of a World Cup competition in Ruka. We have found that it went well. But we may also have been lucky. As it stands, we can not create an infection-free road to and from Davos or Dresden. If things go wrong, the disease can have potentially serious consequences for the person infected. None of us involved are willing to take that risk,” said Per Andersson, medical director of the Swedish Team, according to a translation of the press release.
Finland also decided the best move forward was step away from the World Cup. In a press release, the Finnish Ski Association explained the ongoing pandemic and concerns about compromising their athletes were to blame. The association also claimed safety protocols in Ruka, the site of last weekend’s World Cup in Finland, were insufficient.
“Unfortunately, at Ruka, we found that attitudes towards the coronavirus vary considerably between different people. When the Ruka World Cup was the first big event of the season, the organizers built a competition bubble according to the best knowledge, but due to the variability of the participants’ common understanding and commitment, the competition bubble did not materialize as required,” said Maarit Valtonen, Chief Physician of the Finnish Olympic Committee, according to a translation of the press release.
Along with Norway, both Sweden and Finland have not made a decision about participating in the Tour de Ski which Begins on January 1.
For those interested in the U.S. Ski Team, they remain in Davos preparing for the remaining December World Cups and the Tour de Ski. Chris Grover, Cross Country Program Director at U.S. Ski & Snowboard, provided the following statement regarding Ruka’s safety protocols and those nations electing to sit out the December World Cups:
“We respect any nation’s decision to protect the health and safety of their own athletes and staff. Our team is in Davos training and we are planning on racing here, and in Dresden later this month. Ruka did a great job hosting three disciplines – cross country, jumping and nordic combined – and showed what was possible. Our team felt quite safe in Ruka as we followed the guidelines the local organizer, FIS and our own National Governing Body had in place.”