CANMORE – The world’s best cross country skiers will spend more time in Canmore next year.
The entire COOP FIS Cross-Country World Cup will take place at the Canmore Nordic Centre from Feb. 9-13, 2024, according to organizers, after saying it is “not viable at this time” to host one race day in Calgary due to budget costs and snow-making abilities.
“We are planning on having [all] four race days in Canmore,” said Norbert Meier, events chair for the Alberta World Cup Society (AWCS). “It allows us to keep all the equipment and infrastructure from the weekend in place for [Feb. 13], so financially, it just makes a whole lot more sense that way.”
Prince’s Island Park in downtown Calgary was scheduled to be the site of the final race day (Feb. 13). However, Meier said when the AWCS team looked at the books, it wasn’t feasible.
AWCS and WinSport were in talks to ship hundreds of truckloads of snow from Calgary Olympic Park to Prince’s Island Park, but the cost would have exceeded $200,000. The price to make snow at Prince’s Island Park, plus additional financial burdens, was quickly ruled out, as well.
The snowy downtown Calgary sprint course would have been 650 metres in length, seven metres wide and 50 centimetres deep.
“We’re all trying to figure out how to fight climate change and just the optics of driving snow from one part of the city to the other, so we could hold a world cup race, started to make less and less sense for us,” said Meier.
Meier added that because of the quick turnaround, two television crews would have also needed to have been hired – one for Canmore and one for Calgary.
“We are a small hosting company [and] we cannot digest a big financial risk,” said Meier. “It’s for those reasons [we’re staying in Canmore]. It was a good idea [to host in Calgary], but maybe next time.”
Of the four races, two days (Feb. 9 and 13) are set aside for sprint races that involve heats until the fastest skiers race in the final. From Feb. 10-11, the longer distance races take place – one classic, one skate. The length of each will be determined in spring.
Approximately 20 nations are expected to participate next year.
Nordiq Canada, the national governing body for cross-country skiing, said it’s pumped for the world cup’s return to Canada.
“Domestic World Cups are important because they offer opportunities for skiers who wouldn’t normally start a World Cup race, and they bring excitement for the sport, prompting more Canadians to get out on skis,” said a statement from Nordiq Canada.
Back in 2020, the world cup was set to take place in Canmore, but was cancelled only seven days out due to the uncertainty involving the rapidly evolving state of COVID-19.
Previously, the world cup stopped in Canmore back in March 2016.