Ski Tour Canada 2016 World Cup Fi­nale and Can­more Win­ter Fes­ti­val

SkiTrax - - Out In Front -

Get ready, ski fans, be­cause the big­gest Nordic events since the 1988 Win­ter Olympics are set to hit Cana­dian trails this March. With 150 elite ath­letes from 25 coun­tries tak­ing part, Ski Tour Canada prom­ises to be an event to re­mem­ber, while the in­au­gu­ral IBU Biathlon World Cup in Can­more, Alta. that kicks off the six-week Can­more Win­ter Fes­ti­val is an­other mile­stone for Canada.

The Tour be­gins on March 1 with a skate sprint in Gatineau, Que. in Jac­ques Cartier Park be­side the Cana­dian Mu­seum of His­tory, with its iconic views of the Cana­dian Par­lia­ment Build­ings across the mighty Ot­tawa River as part of lo­cal five-day fes­ti­val. The fol­low­ing day will see rac­ers com­pet­ing in a mass-start Clas­sic race on Mont-royal in Mon­treal. The women tackle 13 kilo­me­tres, while the men con­test a 22-kilo­me­tre cir­cuit in the heart of the city on one of the old­est ski sites in Canada, dat­ing back to 1879.

The fol­low­ing two races will take place in Que­bec City, with a skate sprint on March 4 within the im­pres­sive stone walls of its Old City, site of the 2012 World Cup sprints. This ex­cit­ing sprint course wends its way around Que­bec's “Par­lia­ment Hill,” ad­ja­cent to the his­toric Plains of Abra­ham. The over­all Tour lead­ers af­ter the first three races will lead off the fi­nal event of the Que­bec leg of the Tour on March 5, with a 10km Pur­suit-start skate for the women and 15km Pur­suit-start skate for the men.

Then teams will fly across the coun­try to take part in the fi­nal four legs of the Tour at the Can­more Nordic Cen­tre. The tour will recom­mence on March 8 with a Clas­sic sprint on a tech­ni­cally chal­leng­ing course at al­ti­tude. The next day will see com­peti­tors com­pet­ing in a 15km Skiathlon for the women and a 30km Skiathlon for the men.

Fol­low­ing a rest day is the penul­ti­mate 10/15km FR dis­tance race on March 11, with the Tour and the sea­son wrap­ping up on March 12 with a Pur­suit start to de­ter­mine the over­all win­ners in the women's 10km and the men's 15km.

With huge prize money on the line, some 712,000 Swiss Francs ($925,000 [CDN]/$696,000 [US]) on the line, along with valu­able points, the world's best will all be in Can­more bat­tling for the over­all Tour vic­tory and the fa­bled crys­tal globes that will be awarded out­side of Europe for the first time. With Cana­dian and U.S. con­tenders aim­ing for podi­ums along the way in­clud­ing, the over­all globes, the cheer­ing from the side­lines will be non­stop.

The fi­nal four legs of Ski Tour Canada are also the grand fi­nale of the Can­more Win­ter Car­ni­val that kicks off Feb. 4-7 with the in­au­gu­ral IBU Biathlon World Cup and cul­mi­nates with the fi­nal Ski Tour Canada race in March. Run­ning for more than 20 years, the fes­ti­val has been ex­panded to 45 days this year, as Can­more will host a mul­ti­tude of spe­cial events in­clud­ing ice-carv­ing, snow-sculpt­ing, dogsled races, food and drink cel­e­bra­tions, art ex­hibits, live en­ter­tain­ment, to name but a few.

Ac­cord­ing to Sara Ren­ner, for­mer Olympian and “World Cup Ex­cite­ment Spe­cial­ist,” there will be some­thing for ev­ery­one. “If any com­mu­nity can cel­e­brate win­ter, it is Can­more, and it's the first time we have ever had two Nordic events of this cal­i­bre held so close to­gether in North Amer­ica.”

One of the most ex­cit­ing and unique events to be held at the Can­more Nordic Cen­tre dur­ing Ski Tour Canada will be the overnight, open-air sky ex­pe­ri­ence. Lo­cal ski-club mem­bers and Nordic en­thu­si­asts will have the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence watch­ing the races from the tent vil­lage that will be set up above the sta­dium in be­tween the Olympic and Cen­ten­nial trails for a truly magical ex­pe­ri­ence.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.ski­tour­canada.com.

Canada's top skier, Alex Har­vey, be­lieves he has a shot at the over­all men's World Cup ti­tle this year.

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