by J.D. Downing
As a new season is about to unfold, let's take a look at what's on the horizon for XC ski Masters here in North America, as well as overseas.
Canada Masters: The 2015 Canadian Masters National XC Championships will be held in Forestville, Que. on Feb. 18-20, 2016. Preliminary event information shows 13km, 27km and 60km race options over two race days. Full information is available at www.borealloppet.ca.
AXCS National Masters: The U.S.A. National Masters 2016 is returning to Royal Gorge, Calif., welcoming skiers from coast to coast for another great long weekend on March 19-20. A 10km Classic on Saturday will be followed by Sunday's freestyle-technique California Gold Rush that will use a new 42/28/14km course design. Information and sign-up links are available via www.xcskiworld.com.
Masters World Cup (MWC2016): This year's Worlds, for the first time, visits the beautiful forests, lakes and hillsides of Vuokatti, Finland on Feb. 5-12. Featuring more than 150 kilometres of trails in the general Vuokatti area, this is a true skier's paradise, reminiscent of several of the most popular North American ski destinations.
American or Canadian Masters who are still interested in attending should immediately contact the American XC Skiers (AXCS) office at xcskiworld.com. Canadian skiers should also contact the Canadian Masters Cross-country Ski Association (www.canadian-masters-xc-ski.ca) for additional information on the MWC2016. What about upcoming XC Masters events beyond this year? AXCS will stage the National Masters 2017 in Minneapolis, Minn. as a “preview” of the MWC2018 in the same spot approximately one year later (more on that below). The opportunity to offer a preview for a “home” North American Worlds using the incredible City of Lakes Loppet events was simply too good to pass up.
For 2018, both the U.S.A. and Canadian National Masters will be based within the MWC2018 events in Minneapolis. Masters leaders on both sides of the border have long recognized that it is foolish to offer a competing National event in years that the Worlds comes to North America. We all want as many North Americans as possible at the “home” Worlds, so the logical choice has been to use Masters World Cup results to also recognize top domestic skiers.
As for future Masters World Cups, we are looking at a simply fantastic series of Worlds over the next several years. Following what both Canadian and American representatives are certain will be an amazing 2016 Worlds in Finland, the eyes of Masters around the world will turn to Klosters, Switzerland for the MWC2017, with tentative dates of March 3-10, 2017.
Located a couple hours southeast of Zurich, Klosters is essentially a twin village to famous Davos, Switzerland, providing an impressive list of nearby adventures for any visitor both on and off the snow. Further, organizers have scheduled the MWC2017 so that as the Worlds wrap up, there will be a chance to stick around for a couple days to take part in the Engadin Ski Marathon, with its course just a short train ride away!
For American skiers, AXCS will be announcing the non-profit travel package to the MWC2017 in Spring 2016, so renew your membership today at www.xcskiworld.com.
Then, in 2018, the world will be coming to North America. Exact dates for the MWC2018 are still pending due to the Super Bowl, which is also taking place in Minneapolis in Winter 2018. The best guess at this point is that the MWC2018 will be Jan. 19-26, immediately followed by the City of Lakes Loppet weekend, with the Super Bowl a weekend later.
Minneapolis, Minn. will arguably be one of the easily accessed Worlds in history, with daily direct flights from destinations throughout North America as well as several European gateways. Plus, thousands of Masters live within a comfortable one-day drive of the U.S.A.'S upper Midwest and centrally-located Canadian provinces.
With races held at Theodore Wirth Park just minutes from downtown (you literally see the skyscrapers from several spots on the trails), the MWC2018 has the potential to be the largest and most exciting Masters Worlds in history. Hundreds of lodging options exist across the metro area, but the real fun will be staying in the heart of downtown with its convenient light-rail connections to dozens of metro attractions, including the Mall of America, concerts and NBA and NHL games.
Remember that all the work and long years of planning that go into future North American Masters events is only possible with strong national Masters organizations. Annual membership is the key to making sure exciting and fun events keep happening year after year. Join or renew with your association today! In Canada, go to www.canadian-masters-xc-ski.ca; in the U.S.A., go to www.xcskiworld.com.
For American skiers, it's not at all too early to note that you will be required to have a national Masters association membership in order to take part in the MWC2018. If you sign up for a three-year AXCS membership now, you'll not only receive the best benefit package in the XC ski world at the cheapest dues possible (less than $34 per year!), you'll also enjoy that membership up to and including the 2018 Worlds!
Also note that AXCS also features a media-only international membership (information at xcskiworld.com), so Canadians can enjoy its tremendous media benefits as an add-on to their Canadian association membership.