Following the FIS Cross-Country committee meetings in May, the FIS Council approved the race calendar for the upcoming season. On the list of events is the newly approved Mixed Relay (4x5km) and Mixed Team sprint, both to debut Sunday, March 13th, 2022 in Falun Sweden.
The Swedish Ski Federation and the “Svenska Skidspelen” organizers conducted a study on the feasibility of these formats before approval. At last year’s Swedish senior national competition in Falun, they held a mixed relay event which was a success. “[It’s] super fun to drive with the guys,” said Maja Dahlqvist according to a translation, “The women’s and men’s team have had a part in each other’s successes through team cohesion over the past year, so it will really be spicy teams that start together.”
Johan Eriksson, a club leader in Falun shared a similar sentiment saying, “Team cohesion was strengthened when ladies and gentlemen fought against the same goal line. At the same time, the entertainment was great with reversals in the result lists and tactical moves in team line-ups.”
FIS orignally planned on introducing a mixed relay in Canmore during the 2019-2020 season. That race series was cancelled due to the pandemic.
The mixed format racing is nothing new for the International Biathlon Union. Biathlon has featured a mixed relay format since 2005, and it was first contested at the Olympics during 2014 in Sochi. Teams in the mixed relay consiste of two men and two women. In 2015, the single mixed relay was introduced and was added to the World Championships in 2019. This format is a two skier event – one female and one male.
This upcoming season marks the 40th anniversary of the FIS Cross-Country World Cup and this long-discussed race format further diversifies the World Cup’s race format offerings this upcoming Olympic season. “With Falun hosting two mixed team events on the same day, spectators on site but also fans in front of [the] TV can look forward to an extraordinary World Premiere in Cross-Country skiing,” says Pierre Mignerey, the FIS Cross-Country Race Director.
Other races that weekend include a classic sprint on Friday and a 10/15 k skate event on Saturday. The full 2021/2022 season calendar is now available on the FIS website.
Growing up in Washington’s Methow Valley, Ella was immersed in skiing and the ski community from a young age. From early days bundled in the pulk, to learning to ski as soon as she could walk, to junior racing, a few seasons of collegiate racing, and then to coaching, she has experienced the ski world in many forms. Now, as a recent graduate from Dartmouth College, she finds herself living in France splitting her time between teaching English at a university in Lyon, avidly following ski racing (and now writing about it!) and adventuring in the outdoors as often as possible.