Cross-Country Continental Cup season underway
The most important FIS series for developing and young athletes, the FIS Continental Cup got underway last weekend. Below is a preview of the Continental Cup action around the globe.
U.S. Super Tour
The first races of the new Continental Cup season were held as part of the U.S. Super Tour on Thanksgiving Day, 23rd November 2013, with two distance competitions in West Yellowstone. The series then continued in Bozeman, Montana, with freestyle and classic sprints, and 10/15km classic distance races.
Three U.S. Super Tour events are left in the 2013/14 calendar in Crafstbury, St. Paul and Kincaid Park, Alaska. The series will conclude with the traditional stage-competition finals in mid April that will feature classic prologue, 10/15 km mass start free, free technique sprint, hill climb competition and classic mass start competitions.
The 2013 NorAm Cup commenced at the Canmore Nordic Centre on 1st December and will travel on to the Sovereign Lake Nordic Center in Vernon, BC. for two distance competitions. Host to the 2005 FIS World Cup and the 2011 Masters World Cup, Sovereign Lake has staged a NorAm for over 15 years.
After a break for the Canadian World Cups and Christmas, the NorAm circuit moves to the Lappe Nordic Centre in Thunder Bay, Ontario, for Canada’s World Junior and World U-23 Trials. The club in Northern Ontario has a strong Finnish heritage and was used as a Cross-Country training site for the 1995 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. The newly homologated trails will challenge the best skiers in Canada in sprint, skiathlon and interval start competitions.
The NorAm Cup remains in the east for two additional NorAm events in late January at Highlands Nordic, just north of Toronto, and the Nakkertok north of Ottawa.
The final event of the series returns to Alberta for the Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships. First built for the Canada Winter Games in 1995 and upgraded recently for the Arctic Winter Games, the Wapiti Organising Committee is looking forward to joining the NorAm circuit for the first time.
The Continental Cup series within the Alpine countries (OPA Cup) will start in the middle of December. It will travel through Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Slovenia and Italy with the first competitions in Goms (SUI).
This season, the OPA Cup will feature two mini-Tours. The first will be held in Rogla (SLO) from 15th – 17th February 2014. The three-day competition programme includes a free technique prologue, 5/10 km classic and 10/15 km free technique pursuit.
The OPA Cup will conclude from 15th – 17th March 2014 in Toblach (ITA) with an OPA Finals stage event. The finals will consist of free technique prologue, 5/10 km classic and 10/15 km skiathlon.
The Scandinavian Cup has always been a strong platform for young and promising athletes from the Scandinavian countries. Last year's ladies overall winner Martine Ek Hagen is the shooting star of Norwegian Cross-Country Skiing and has followed the example of Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg and Heidi Weng who previously won the series.
On the men's side, John Kristian Dahl topped the overall podium last year. The series starts the weekend before Christmas, on 14th – 16th December, in Sjusjoen (NOR), just above Lillehammer. The Cup will consist of four events in four countries, Norway, Latvia, Estonia and Finland. The series will culminate in Inari (FIN) on 22nd – 24th February 2014.
The 2013/14 season will again consist of six weekends with 12 competitions for each gender. Slovakian venue Strbske Pleso is back on the calendar after a hiatus. At an altitude of 1350 m, it is an ideal location for Cross-Country Skiing and hosted the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in 1970. It also hosted the Winter Universiade in 1987, EYOWF (European Youth Olympic Winter Festival) in 1999 and FIS Junior World Ski Championships in 2000.
Last season, the Organisers of Zakopane (POL) and Gerlachov (SVK) used the facilities to carry out Slavic Cup competitions. The Slovakian Ski Association initiated re-homologation of the competition courses and the coming season will take place on official courses.
Eastern Europe Cup
The Eastern Europe Cup kicked off last week with the first competitions of the new season held in Vershina Tea. Two distance races and two sprint competitions were on the programme from 20th -24th November. The EEC continues in Krasnogorsk at Christmas.
Far East Cup
The Far East Cup 2013/14 will take place in three venues. Sapporo, Otoineppu in Japan and the Alpensia resort in Korea.
The Sapporo facility was used for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2007. Otoineppu is a small village town with the population of 1,000, and it is northernmost FIS homologated facility in Japan. Alpensia Resort, Korea, is a large resort area 250 km from Seoul and the stadium and courses will be used for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
The Balkan Cup 2013/2014 will consist of 12 men and 12 ladies competitions at six different Balkan venues: Pigadia/GRE, Zlatibor/SRB, Mavrovo/MKD, Dvorista-Pale/BIH, Cheile Gradistei-Fundata/ROU and Kandilli-Erzurum/TUR. The series kicks off in Pigadia (GRE) on 12th – 13th January 2013.