Ski Tour Canada 2016 World Cup Finale and Canmore Winter Festival
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.