This week the Worldloppet released its official race calendar for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 race seasons. On the upside, for the time being, there are opportunities for in-person Worldloppet events. All this, of course, depends on the status of the pandemic in specific countries and associated travel restrictions. As many skiers know, the loppet series is global, spanning from Southern Hemisphere races in Australia, New Zealand, and Argentina, to Northern Hemisphere races in North America, across Europe, including Norway, Sweden, and Finland, and Asia.
Last season, due to the closure of international borders and pandemic precautions, much of the Worldloppet series became virtual. The Worldloppet offered an official “Virtual Racing League”. Athletes participating in seven races from seven different countries earned a “Virtual Racer” title. Perhaps not as illustrious as the older school passport system for those ticking off the global race series, the virtual series kept many skiers motivated. The virtual race series will be in play for the upcoming season. The Worldloppet will release more information as it becomes available. However, many organizers able to hold in-person events also plan on doubling up and offering a virtual event for those unable to travel.
The first Worldloppet race scheduled this year with the possibility of in-person racing for some is Australia’s Kangaroo Hoppet, on August 28. However, unless you are already down under, or travel restrictions change, traveling to the Kangaroo Hoppet from abroad looks dicey. Currently, according to Australia’s Department of Health and the Department of Home Affairs, entering Australia for non-essential activities seems nearly impossible beyond hopping over to Australia from New Zealand. The race organizers in Australia, however, are offering a virtual event. The virtual Hoppet includes several different classes and distances. Registration opens July 1st.
It appears to be a similar situation for New Zealand’s Merino Muster: the border is open to Australians. Otherwise, entering New Zealand is difficult from abroad. (We will update this article if a virtual Merino Muster is scheduled.)
The real Worldloppet draw remains in-person mass start racing. For now, that dream vacation to Europe or Scandinavia for a ski race might be on hold for a bit longer. Again, the situation regarding border openings and international travel, even when vaccinated, remains dynamic. Yet, the possibility for in-person racing remains. In this case, it might pay off to be patient. The Worldloppet’s calendar is loaded with potential in-person racing.
For now, for example, a link is live for Switzerland’s Engadin, while the famed Norwegian Birkebeinerrennet set to run in March, has not opened up registration. Last year, Norway’s Birken was canceled. According to their website, skiers registered for last year’s race are auto-registered for the 2022 version.
Lastly, the glass half full perspective brings news that Argentina’s Ushuaialoppet- Marchablanca survives the pandemic as a virtual event for this August. According to a Worldloppet press release, the race organizers in Tierra del Fuego announced a cancellation of the in-person event during the most recent Worldloppet general meeting. The press release also stated the Ushuaialoppet organizers were under financial duress due to two consecutive years of race cancellations. Several Worldloppet member organizations successfully spearheaded an effort to galvanize financial support for the Ushuaialoppet. The Ushuaialoppet is currently working on a virtual event with details to be posted at a later date.
Jason lives in Bend, Ore., and can often be seen chasing his two boys around town. He’s a self-proclaimed audio geek. That all started back in the early 1990s when he convinced a naive public radio editor he should report a story from Alaska’s, Ruth Gorge. Now, Jason’s common companion is his field-recording gear.