Ski Tour 2020 – Round Up

This is an effort to summarize impressions from the inaugural Ski Tour 2020. At least we hope it’s inaugural and not a one-off event in the “gap year ” when there are no Olympics or the world championships.

We deliberately post this before the Tour’s end as there is enough info to convey and the most novel races have happened already.

Good:

The Tour is happening in the geographic area that could be described as “heartland of cross country skiing”, at least one of them. That’s what sets it apart from a better known cousin, Tour de Ski. It translates into spectators’ stands packed and general atmosphere of the big event
Ecology/ sustainability trend is not a fad – it’s a fashion that it’s here to stay. The organizers of the Ski Tour did a good job of emphasizing it, from making actual athletes to travel on the train to using electric snowmobiles. To the best of our knowledge, it’s the first real attempt to have the world of skiing actively and demonstratively embrace the eco-angle that vibes so well with modern urban youth
Guri Knotten Hetland, the CEO of Ski Tour 2020: “Our initial proposal was to put the entire Tour on the train: wax cabins, everything. But we have to make it step by step. We will not save the world by using the train between Östersund and Trondheim, for sure – but we could make small steps and to show that it’s possible to organize top competitions in cross country in more eco-friendly and sustainable way”
For our money, Ski Tour’s most notable events were Uphill Sprint in Åre and point-to-point
Storlien-Meråker race (that became Meråker-Meråker but did not lose much of its core appeal). Cross country skiing has many woes but one of them is that the competitions became almost identical: sprints and 10/15k throughout the season. Any new length/ format adds to core fans interest and gives them something to discuss while attracting new audience. At least that’s the plan, presumably. In fact we got so impressed with Åre sprint that we’ll pen a separate story on that
There was a real snow, both on the tracks and around. Not a small factor considering the current state of affairs

Bad or needs improvement:
– Only a lazy reporter (and us here) did not write about logistical issues e.g. odd choice for waxing space in the same Åre. Annoying as they are, those are teething problems. Any new location for such a complex machine as the FIS World Cup on tour is bound to have them.
– The nation most consider to be essential for the future of xcskiing, wasn’t there. We are talking Germany, of course. Peter Schlikenrider, boss of the German team told the Daily Skier that the decision was made to prioritize training/ competing in the national championships. Sounds odd? Not really: the nationals are being held at exact time / place as the next year world championships , on Oberstdorf. Understandable yet still a big miss.
 

Just facts:

Total budget of some 1.6 million euros, quite a figure by xcskiing standards.
Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden came to visit

In conclusion:


Over 1000 people participated one way or another in organization of the events in all 5 venues ( sadly, Storlien had to be dropped off the list due to bad weather)

In conclusion:

Very promising event with a future, most definitely.

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