Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tour de Ski

In a little more than five days I will board a flight to Munich on my way to the Tour de Ski. I will be joining four other service staff to make race skis for the US Ski Team. My role in the team will be wax and structure testing. Interestingly, the USST has indicated that the plan for the Tour de Ski is to use it as a test run for the major Championships (Val di Fiemme and Sochi) of the next two seasons. My plan is to work had and see what doors open up down the road!

This will be the fifth edition of Tour de Ski and the event runs December 29 until January 8. The numbers are pretty astonishing:
  • 9 races
  • in 11 days
  • at 5 venues
  • in 2 countries
The overall results are based on the aggregate time for all events, as well as bonus seconds awarded on sprint and mass start stages. The sprint races carry bonus seconds for the finish, which are subtracted from the overall time. In mass start competitions, intermediate points carry bonus seconds as well. The final stage of the race includes a ridiculous climb up to Alpe Cermis. The competitors start with the gaps they have from earlier stages, so the first one on the top is the overall winner.

FIS has produced a really great graphic that shows the route we will follow:

I thought it would be interesting to see what we can learn about each of the venues!

Oberhof, GER - skate prologue, classic pursuit
Oberhof is situated in the middle of the Thuringian Forest (800 m over sea level) in Germany. The town boasts a unique concentration of winter sport facilities and based on its long-term engagement for young athletes it is known as one of the strongest training centers of the German Ski Federation. Top skiers like Axel Teichmann and Ronny Ackermann have their sportive homes in Oberhof.

The DKB Ski Arena is located at the Rennsteig about 2 km outside of Oberhof. At the stadium (814 m over sea level), there is space for about 15,000 spectators in addition to 10,000 more on the course.

Oberstdorf, GER - classic sprint, skiathlon
Oberstdorf is an internationally recognized winter sports resort with one of the most up-to-date and largest ski jumping hills of the world. Together with the neighbouring region of Kleinwalsertal, Oberstdorf is the largest mountain and ski resort on the northern edge of the Alps.

The Cross Country Stadium in Ried is located in the south of Oberstdorf.  The Stadium was built up in 2003/2004 for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2005.  The Stadium itself offers space for 10,000 spectators and additional 15,000 spectators on the track. For the sprint races almost the complete slope can be seen from the stadium and in addition the spectators in the stadium have a perfect view on the video wall.

Cortina - Toblach, ITA - classic distance, skate sprint, skate pursuit
Details are a bit slim on this venue...

Val di Fiemme, ITA - classic distance, skate pursuit (final hill climb)
The Cross-Country stadium is situated approx. 5 km east of Cavalese, the main city of Val di Fiemme. The capacity of the stadium is about 8,000 spectators and on the track approximately 20,000 can follow the competitions.

Every January, Cross-Country skiers can take part in the famous ski marathon, "Marcialonga," which starts in Moena and reaches Canazei in Val di Fassa, and then returns to Val di Fiemme while passing by many villages near Cavalese.

The best places to follow along with the results will be Fasterskier, FIS Cross Country, and the FIS Tour de Ski Leader board

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