Missing snow makes staging a World Cup cross country ski race in Minnesota an uphill climb


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Long road to a World Cup in cross country skiing back to usa There’s one final burst of momentum: Minnesota’s weather, or lack thereof.

With the Twin Cities metro area on pace for the snowiest winter on record, organizers are on a determined and frantic mission to save the machine-built course at Minneapolis’s Theodore Wirth Park for the sprint and 10-kilometer races taking place in February. Are. 17-18.

With 10 tough days to go, about 40 volunteers skied the route on Wednesday, carefully laying down blankets to protect the course from forecast rain on Thursday. The high temperature in Minneapolis on Wednesday was 51 degrees – almost double that. average,

“At this point, it doesn’t look ideal,” said Claire Wilson, executive director of the Loppet Foundation, which is organizing the first U.S. stop on a World Cup tour since 2001.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) gave formal approval last week after assessing the course conditions, bringing a sigh of relief to all involved.

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High temperatures over the weekend are expected to be in the low 30s, which is far more typical for this time of year, with snowmaking machines lining up for the next round of fresh powder. During a prolonged period of below-freezing weather in mid-January, crews hid as much as possible, Wilson said, and additional equipment – ​​28 trucks in total – was collected and hauled from a nearby ski jump.

“We’re all keeping our fingers and toes crossed,” he said.

The World Cup was originally scheduled to be held in Minneapolis in 2020, but the event was canceled due to the pandemic. Those races were scheduled to take place in mid-March. When Wilson then took over, he insisted on stopping the rescheduled tour earlier in the calendar. The winter of 2022–23 was, on course, the third snowiest winter on record for the Twin Cities.

“It’s hard to understand where we were last February,” Wilson said. “We are concerned about the incident, but we are also using this incident and have always used it as an opportunity to talk about sustainability and highlight our winter safety, as it is now the case :They are not trustworthy.”

Jessie Diggins, a Minnesota native who played a key role in bringing the World Cup to her home state, has worked with the advocacy group protect our winter On the issue of climate change.

“Yes, it’s a problem, yes, it’s man-made, and yes, we have to fix it,” Diggins said.

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