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City of Dresden to Host First World Cup on Manmade Loop

A view of the 1.2 k World Cup sprint course from the bridge that spans the Elbe River in Dresden, Germany. Racers will ski beneath its farthest left arch.

DRESDEN, Germany — With the conclusion of the Tour de Ski last Sunday, nearly 120 World Cup athletes gradually made their way to Dresden for the Period 2 of the International Ski Federation (FIS) Cross Country World Cup season.

On Saturday, those racers will tackle a brand-new 1.2-kilometer course (it was originally set to be 1.4 k, but shortened due lack of stored snow) in Dresden, which is hosting its first FIS Cross Country World Cup. The entire track is set along the city’s Elbe River, one of Central Europe’s major waterways. According to a course official, there is “no natural” snow on course; only manmade snow will be used for the weekend’s freestyle races (with individual sprints Saturday and team sprints on Sunday). This perhaps makes sense as the races are within walking distance of the city center’s major shopping plaza.

Conditions at the Dresden World Cup race venue on Friday.

Temperatures on Saturday afternoon were around 4 degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit). On all sides of the surrounding course fence — and a diamond inside where the course splits for the athletes to turn back to the finish — green grass was a visible reminder that this venue is in Saxony’s second-largest city and capital (Saxony being an eastern German state).

Spectators may watch the races from atop the bridge that spans the Elbe, as competitors ski under the left-most arch (as shown in the photo at the top of this post) and between the final brick abutments.

The course is predominantly flat, with one climb about two-thirds of the way through followed by a brief flat and the course’s sole downhill, which then leads into a 100-meter finish.

The freestyle sprint weekend opens with the women’s qualifier at 9:50 a.m. CET.

Start lists: Women | Men

A groomer sets on out the Dresden 1.2-kilometer sprint course on Friday.

— Gabby Naranja

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Pre-Race in Canmore: Trail Report Before Tuesday’s STC Classic Sprint

Wax testing on the final descent into the stadium during official training on Monday at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

Wax testing on the final descent into the stadium during official training on Monday at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

By Gerry Furseth

CANMORE, Alberta — Monday brought the first official training day at Canmore for the Ski Tour Canada.  Warm and sunny conditions greeted the athletes, bringing smiles to a lot of faces after some cold weather in the first week.

The day started sunny and -2 degrees Celsius (28 Fahrenheit), quickly warming up as the day progressed.  This is fairly typical March weather at Canmore: below freezing at night and above freezing during the day. Away from the course, most of the snow has melted, but the skiing is still good, especially in the morning with fast, slightly crusty, tracks.

Skiers head out on the course and into the opening climb out of the stadium during official training on Monday at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

Skiers head out on the course and into the opening climb out of the stadium during official training on Monday at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

Almost all of the snow base is manmade; locals say that is what makes the trails so consistently firm this time of year. The Tuesday classic sprint, Wednesday skiathlon, and Friday skate distance races are all scheduled early enough to hit the prime conditions, with only the final pursuit on Saturday in the late afternoon.

The new sprint course looks like a lollipop with two laps around the head, with the start and finish sections are unchanged.  It seems much more double pole friendly than the old course, especially with fast snow. Listening to the wax testing, it seemed as if people weren’t finding one perfect pair of skis for the whole sprint course. Picking the right part of the course to select skis for may turn out to be critical.  For the men, choosing between classic and skate skis may be difficult.

The distance courses had highly varied conditions by the end of the afternoon. Some exposed sections at the bottom were nearly slush. The top of the course was still crusty and fast. The mid-elevation sections varied greatly by sun exposure, with crust, wet transformed snow, and sugar all represented. The final pursuit on Saturday afternoon is expected to have similar weather; if so, there could be some significant changes in standings.

The distance courses are hard, with long climbs at 1,400 meters (nearly 4,600 feet) elevation.  Some skiers were looking tired after four races and a travel day, others were energized.

A light snowfall in Monday evening brought the first fresh snow in weeks.

The Stage 5 classic sprint begins at 10:30 a.m. Mountain time with the women’s qualifier, followed by the men’s qualifier at 11:10 a.m. Heats start at 1 p.m. MT.

Follow us on Twitter @FasterSkier for race updates.

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Ninth Tour de Ski a ‘Go’, Completely Reliant on Manmade Snow

The ninth edition of the International Ski Federation’s (FIS) Tour de Ski will go ahead as planned from Jan. 3-11, according to a FIS press release on Thursday. The decision was based on the latest weather forecasts and “thorough discussions” with local organizing committees, namely the German Ski Association, Swiss Ski and Italian Winter Sport Federation.

“Until today [Thursday], mild weather has allowed only limited snow production in Obertsdorf,” the release stated of the first Tour stop in Germany. “However, the temperatures are expected to drop below zero already during the upcoming weekend.”

The Oberstdorf organizing committee planned to utilize “all available snow production resources” in order to prepare its courses for next week.

In Switzerland, the organizing committee in Val Müstair is “almost finished with the sprint course,” FIS stated.

The third venue in Toblach, Italy, currently has snow for a 2.5-kilometer loop, and more will be produced for a 5 k course.

Finally, the local OC in Val di Fiemme, Italy, has been producing snow over the last several days to prepare a 2.5 k course in advance of Jan. 10-11, and is working on connecting its cross-country stadium to the Alpe Cermis, site of the final climb. “Alpe Cermis, course of the Final Climb is covered with snow,” FIS wrote.

According to the Val di Fiemme OC, the final climb will be ready by the end of December.

“Long-awaited snowfalls due in the next hours,” it stated in a press release on Thursday. “The [2.5 k]-long track in the XC Stadium almost ready.”

“FIS Tour de Ski, what a challenge, for organisers as for world’s best cross country skiers,” the  release continued. “Not much snow has fallen so far across the Alps and the four ski resorts where the World Cup series is about to take place are all strongly engaged in the production of snow.”

It explained that the Italian OC, led by Bruno Felicetti, “has been working extremely hard and struggled against the warm weather in the past weeks.” With cold-enough temperatures, the cross-country stadium can produce 30,000 cubic meters (24.3 acres) of manmade snow with 18 snowmaking machines, while the 9 k climb up Alpe Cermis can be covered with 29 snow cannons.

“The Mass Start event will not let anyone down including the skiers, assured the Fiemme team,” the release continued. “Male athletes will face 6 laps while women will run 4 of [2.5 k] each. The production of snow won’t stop from now onwards despite the fact that some good snowfalls are due in northern Italy in the next couple of days.

“In the meantime, the 9k-long Final Climb track on the Alpe Cermis is also being whitened … Part of the Marcialonga track – from the XC Stadium to the beginning of the climb – is also under the…snow bombs, and both the Tour de Ski final days, 10 and 11 January, are definitely not in danger.”

The OC also learned it has been granted rights to host the Tour’s final stages until 2019.

2015 Tour de Ski schedule

Jan. 3 (Saturday) in Obertsdorf: 3/4 k freestyle prologue prologue

Jan. 4 (Sunday) in Obertsdorf: 10/15 k classic pursuit

Jan. 6 (Tuesday) in Val Müstair: freestyle sprint

Jan. 7 (Wednesday) in Toblach: 5/10 k classic

Jan. 8 (Thursday) in Toblach: 15/35 k freestyle pursuit

Jan. 10 (Saturday) in Val di Fiemme: 10/15 k classic

Jan. 11 (Sunday) in Val di Fiemme: 9 k freestyle pursuit (final climb)

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Newell Gets Serious Air on Lillehammer World Cup Course

FIS Cross Country follows U.S. Ski Team sprinter Andy Newell for some speedy video footage of this weekend’s World Cup course in Lillehammer, Norway.

“Gonna go fast!” Newell says with a laugh before shredding the newly groomed course on skate skis.

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FIS World Cup in Sjusjøen: Video Update

Conditions look respectable in this video update posted by FIS on Thursday. Where a week ago there was no snow, with 10 snow cannons going non-stop since the decision to move the first World Cup to Sjusjøen, Norway, the organizing committee has completed 2.5 k of the course, with the goal of putting the finishing touches on a 3.75 k track for Saturday’s 10/15 k. Take a look:

On Friday World Cup teams had the opportunity to preview the course, some for the first time.

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Morning Chill Greets Skiers, Wax Techs for Olympics Freestyle Races

Polish wax technicians out testing this morning before the start of the freestyle 10/15k in Whistler

Polish wax technicians out testing this morning before the start of the freestyle 10/15k in Whistler

After a textbook Whistler snow squall on Sunday, a new weather system has moved in for today, bringing with it clear skies and cooler temperatures. It’s currently 27 degrees at Whistler Olympic Park, with highs predicted to reach just 35–significantly cooler than the last few days.

German Head Coach Jochen Behle told FasterSkier this morning that organizers groomed very late, which hasn’t given the course much time to set up. While the racing should be fast, frozen granular for the women, he said that it may soften up again by the time the men go off in the afternoon.

Fans were already trickling in two hours before the start of the races. Pressure is high on the Scandinavians this morning, according to a couple of international journalists. Sweden hasn’t yet won a single medal in this Games, and Norway only has Emil Hegle Svendsen’s silver from yesterday. The women’s race going off at prime time in those countries, and the spotlights are on Marit Bjoergen (NOR), Petter Northug (NOR), Charlotte Kalla (SWE), and Marcus Hellner (SWE).

Langrenn.com’s Ivar Haugen said that today’s race is probably Bjoergen’s best chance at a medal, a tough way for her to start the Games, psychologically. For Northug, however, expectations are a little lower, since he tends to excel more in mass starts, and Haugen said that the 15k freestyle is probably the worst event for the Norwegian men.

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Snowstorm Scraps American Biathlon Hopes

A wild snowstorm erupted in the middle of the men’s biathlon 10k sprint today, scuttling American hopes for a medal from Tim Burke.

Only the early starters had a chance today, as the heavy snow made the skis of the later starters prohibitively slow. All three of the podium finisher-Vincent Jay of France, Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway, and Jakov Fak of Croatia, in that order-were among the first ten on the course.

Tim Burke, the U.S.’s best hope for a medal, ended up skiing in the height of the storm, and didn’t help his own cause with three penalties. He finished in the high forties, over two and a half minutes back.

Jeremy Teela, who started 13th, was the top American finisher in 9th, while Canada’s Jean-Philippe Leguellec, with the eighth bib, was sixth, with a single penalty.

None of the other Americans cracked the top thirty, but all qualified for the pursuit, which consists of the sixty fastest finishers in the sprint.
Full report to come.

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Big Day for Americans in Whistler

With Tim Burke in biathlon and Todd Lodwick, Johnny Spillane, and Billy Demong in nordic combined, it’s conceivable, if improbable, that the United States could come away with four Olympic medals today.

The rain has finally stopped here at Whistler Olympic Park, with temperatures running a little bit cooler. The forecast calls for a high of 39 degrees, with a 40 percent chance of flurries.

The jumping round of the nordic combined competition kicks things off at 10 AM PST. The 10k men’s biathlon sprint is next at 11:15, followed by the nordic combined 10k at 1:45. We’ll do our best to bring you coverage from both sports. Stay tuned!

The jumps at Whistler Olympic Park

The jumps at Whistler Olympic Park

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