Today I got a thorough look at the courses that will be used for the Canmore World Cups.
Loosely each loop could be
described as climbing a small mountain and then coming back down. I
have described them in more detail below. I have also attached some
pictures of people training and testing skis today. To get an idea of
where the race courses are located, imagine that you are standing where
all the skis are lined up on the ground for testing. All the race courses
go up the side of the hill on the opposite side of the trail from where
the skis are lined up. One picture shows the whole stadium from the
point of view of a skier re-entering it after having completed the loops.
The trails are located to the right of this photograph. All in
all, it is a spectacular venue with great scenery and punishing race
5k Olympic course (used for
Individual Start 10km (W) and 15km (M) on Thrusday.
Upon exiting the stadium the
racers begin the climb up the aforesaid “mountain”. To give you
an idea of where this is, essentially, it is the hill behind the old
scoreboard, or the one on the left hand side of the stadium as you ski
out of it. The skier will travel primarily uphill until about 2.8km.
There are roughly three places that involve a minimal loss of elevation
before the high point of the course. While the maximum climb is
listed at 66m, the difference in elevation between the start and the
high point is about 75m, making for some tough going indeed. Ski techniques
likely to be employed are one skate, usually followed by offset. The
next 2.2 km follow a similar trajectory but with elevation loss. The
downhills are fast and do involve some “switchback” style corners,
but none of them is particularly challenging from a technical point
of view. The challenging part is how quickly they take you back to the
bottom where you have to start climbing all over again! So, to make
a long story short, this is one of those “up and then down” kind
Interestingly, I happened to
overhear two red group male skiers discussing the course. To paraphrase,
one said something like “ I heard that 23M was spent to upgrade the
facilities here, but I am not sure if maybe I don’t like the old courses
better. These new ones have so much steep climbing, but the old ones
were maybe a bit more interesting and had more technical skiing.”
Apparently some will like it and some will not. All, however, will suffer!
3.75 Olympic and Centennial
Loops (to be used for 15k (W) and 30k (M) classic mass starts on Saturday.
These are essentially two shorter
loops that use portions of the Olympic loop. Once gain, they are of
the “up then down” variety. In fact, skiing these is arguably harder
because the parts of the loops which have been eliminated are the flat
ones. The grade for much of the climb might be described as just
shallow enough that if your wax is good and you are relatively fresh
you can stay in the track and run up them. There is not much free speed
or rolling terrain. Read long, tough, grinding climbs with relatively
fast but non technical downhills.
Sprint Course (For the Sprint
Relay on Sunday)
This course places a premium
on being able to go up short steep climbs at the same time as one is
negotiating a corner. From the start, the skier does about 150 m of
flat, leading into a 180 degree lefthand and uphill turn requiring some
offset. A short downhill takes one into the next uphill pitch, this
time roughly 180 degrees to the right. A more gradual uphill section
of about 75m follows the uphill corner. A fast down hill takes one to
the last 180 degree corner, this time to the right. While there is a
bit of uphill to slow people down coming into it, this corner still
happens at fairly high speed. This is followed about 75 m of gradual
downhill and then 100m of gradual uphill straight ahead to the finish.
From a spectators point of view this course is great. Virtually everything
can be seen from the stadium. The course zigzags above it, first going
up, and then coming down.