THE VENUE

SkiTrax - - Gear Test -

Kick­ing off the Masters World Cup races, com­pe­ti­tions for Mas­ter skiers over the age of 30 will take place in Theodore Wirth Park, ap­prox­i­mately five to seven kilo­me­tres from the Min­neapo­lis city cen­ter. The first com­pe­ti­tion is on Jan. 20, with the fi­nal races on Jan 26. Then the an­nual City of Lakes lop­pet fes­ti­val wel­comes ap­prox­i­mately 11,000 skiers from Jan. 27 to Feb. 4 with such events as lop­pets, tours, snow sculp­tures, ski­jor­ing with dogs, snow­shoe­ing, and so on.

The Park fea­tures 759 acres of di­verse ecosys­tems in a stun­ning ur­ban for­est. The seren­ity of the park and woods sets it apart from the bustling met­ro­pol­i­tan area; vis­i­tors of­ten for­get that they are in the heart of a city. The 29 kilo­me­tres of trail stretch to the Chain of Lakes, with its ad­di­tional eight kilo­me­tres, mak­ing this sys­tem among the long­est ur­ban ski-trail net­works in North Amer­ica.

“This prom­ises to be one of the best, eas­i­est over­all travel ex­pe­ri­ences. We have an in­ter­na­tional air­port within 20 min­utes of the ski trails, with the host ac­com­mo­da­tions in be­tween. The host vil­lage is in down­town Min­neapo­lis, with easy ac­cess to restau­rants, at­trac­tions and a va­ri­ety of ac­com­mo­da­tion lev­els. With a huge con­cen­tra­tion of a com­pet­i­tive, ac­tive lo­cal Masters skiers, the event will be very well rounded in terms of com­pe­ti­tion and nightlife,” said Nels Dyste, chief of com­pe­ti­tion.

John Munger, the Lop­pet Foun­da­tion's ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, ex­panded, say­ing, “There are not many places in the world where there are 3.5 mil- lion peo­ple all liv­ing in a place that can sup­port cross-coun­try ski­ing. As well, in Min­neapo­lis our founders set aside all the best land for the pub­lic good. Be­cause of this we are able to run an en­tire cross-coun­try-ski marathon right in the heart of the city. It's pretty unique to be able to do that in this size of a met­ro­pol­i­tan area.”

The com­mu­nity gets be­hind the var­i­ous projects, mak­ing it all pos­si­ble. Munger went on to say, “We have an in­cred­i­ble ski com­mu­nity in the Twin Cities – prob­a­bly the big­gest sin­gle con­cen­tra­tion of skiers in North Amer­ica, if not in the world. We could not have done any of this with­out our fan­tas­tic com­mu­nity.”

Much work has been done to pre­pare the area for the best pos­si­ble event, yet the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor is a bit ner­vous, hop­ing the weather co­op­er­ates and that its new trail­head com­plex, con­sist­ing of a new build­ing and sta­dium area, will be com­pleted on time.

“We had a re­ally hard sum­mer, with lots of rain and some un­for­tu­nate sur­prises,” said Munger. “It turned out that a soil test was wrong, and all the soil on the build­ing site had to be re­placed. Com­ple­tion is set for mid-jan­uary.”

Part of the over­all Trail­head and Trails and Recre­ation “up­grade” in­cludes more snow via ad­di­tional snow­mak­ing machines, en­hanced wa­ter ca­pac­ity and just more sta­tions in pro­duc­tion. Last year, a cool­ing tower was also added to al­low for snow-mak­ing in warmer tem­per­a­tures.

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