As expected, World Cup racing has been very different this year. Many races have been canceled, postponed, or have had lower athlete turnout. It started with a cancelation in Lillehammer in period 1 and the Scandinavian countries not competing in central Europe throughout the season. Now with the new variants of the virus, the Nove Mesto World Cup has been postponed, and the Holmenkollen 30/50k has been canceled along with World Cup finals, which were originally planned to be in Beijing but relocated to Lillehammer before the season even started.
For the World Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany, the German government is requiring all athletes to do a 10-day quarantine after entering the country, especially from a high risk area. This quarantine requirement interferes with the Nove Mesto World Cup, and the Czech Republic is also considered a high risk area at this time. Not having any of the top athletes in Nove Mesto means the level of competition will not be high enough to consider it a World Cup. At this point, the event is postponed.
Due to increasingly more strict travel and event regulations, the Norwegian Government has decided to cancel the last two World Cups of the season. Nove Mesto is trying to reschedule for after the World Championships. It is unknown if the format (CL Sprint, SK 10/15k) will change to a mini tour like World Cup finals or simply stay the same. If none of these competitions are rescheduled, the World Cup season will end a few weeks early at the final races of World Championships.
For me, this is the second World Cup trip that has been cut short in less than a year. This year, I was lucky to race in Ulricehamn and have a very nice training camp in Ramsau, Austria before coming home a week early. It’s a bummer not to have that second weekend of World Cup racing, but now I will be able to do the Double Birkie.
I am really looking forward to the Birkie this year. It is possible to compete in both the skate and classic races because they are on separate days. The Birkie organizers are requiring all Americans who have been in Europe to complete the CDC recommended 7 day quarantine and receive a negative PCR test before being able to race. This means none of the athletes that were planning on racing in Nove Mesto would be able to satisfy this requirement to race, but now that we are home early we will be able to compete.
Racing at any level has been tough this year, and I am very grateful that we can still compete. My teammates and I are very cautious when it comes to traveling. Before each event that involves traveling and living together as a team, everyone needs a negative Covid test. Venues require strict masking protocols and often a symptom pre-check form that all attendees fill out before coming to the trails. Even with the best precautions, racing isn't always possible this year. It’s always a bummer when an event gets canceled, but we all recognize that the health and safety of the community is more important than racing.