World Cup: Ruka, Finland
Skinnyski: What does the current World Cup schedule look like?
Jeremy: At the moment the only changes to the original schedule is Lillehammer being "postponed" until later in the year. The World Cup schedule is very full already with other planned races and scheduled breaks so it will be difficult to reschedule. More likely than not, the Lillehammer World Cup will be cancelled. Otherwise it is all systems go for the current schedule. FIS is required to have meetings 30 days prior to any event in order to assess the Covid-19 situation and assure that it is smart and safe to travel. If there is a cancellation of any future events, the earliest we will know about it is a month out from the event.
Skinnyski: What processes and protocols are in place for Covid?
Chris: The protocol from FIS and the USST required us to quarantine before travel for 7-10 days, and to provide a negative covid test pre and post flight. Once we arrive in Finland we have taken a daily symptom and temperature questionnaire and a longer weekly symptom check where we will have to upload additional negative tests. While we are in the "bubble" we will be required to test every three to four days. Currently the only place that I get to breathe normally without a mask is in our cabin, and the wax truck. My bubble consists of the other US Ski Team wax techs and no athletes/coaches. This means we have a little more space than normal in the wax truck as no athletes or coaches are allowed to enter.
Skinnyski: Who is racing for the US in Ruka?
Jeremy: The Period 1 starts have been set, and while not all athletes that have start rights will be racing in Ruka (some are alternates) those that are racing are listed below:
- Kevin Bolger
- Simi Hamilton
- Logan Hanneman
- JC Schoonmaker
- Gus Schumacher
- Adam Martin (alternate)
- Scott Patterson (alternate)
- Rosie Brennan
- Sophie Caldwell
- Jessie Diggins
- Julia Kern
- Katharine Ogden
- Caitlin Patterson
- Hailey Swirbul
The most notable name missing from this list is Sadie Maubet Bjornsen who has been a mainstay of the World Cup scene since her first start in 2011. She will be taking the first period off to help focus on the second half of the season which includes the World Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany. In addition, Team Canada will also be absent from the first phase of the World Cup season due to concerns regarding Covid-19.
Skinnyski: What's the snow situation for Ruka?
Chris: Ruka has been moving man made snow all week on top of getting about 2-3 inches of new snow. We have been testing zeroes, klister, and hardwax each day with temperatures hovering around 32 degrees. Temperatures look to maybe drop a little over the next few days and stabilize which will help us with testing prior to the races this weekend.
Skinnyski: What is Chris's new job with the team?
Chris: I am one of the athlete wax techs and will be helping out with grip and glide. My primary athletes are Scott Patterson and Katharine Ogden. If one of them doesn't get a start spot for the weekend I will move over to helping out other athletes as needed. While my main focus will be on Patterson and Ogden, we all play a big part in what happens and have an equal voice when it comes to race day and race day preparations. I am excited to be working in this new role this season, and create new relationships with a team that I have worked very closely with in the past at my previous position with the Rex racing service.
Skinnyski: What's on tap for the first races of the World Cup season this weekend in Ruka?
Jeremy: The World Cup opener will be a mini tour like it has been in the past. The first competitions begin on Friday with a classic sprint. Saturday is a classic individual start, and Sunday will be a freestyle pursuit. Below is a list of start times and distances:
- Nov 27 Classic Sprint Heats - 5:30 am CST
- Nov 28 Womens 10km Classic Individual Start - 2:40 am CST
- Nov 28 Mens 15km Classic Individual Start - 5:45 am CST
- Nov 29 Womens 10km Freestyle Pursuit Start - 4:50 am CST
- Nov 29 Mens 15km Freestyle Pursuit Start - 5:50 am CST
About the author...
Jeremy Hecker is the current racing service manager at Pioneer Midwest and Rex Ski Wax technical representative for the US. He has been skiing for his entire lifetime, racing competitively in college for St. Scholastica. Since graduating in 2013 he has coached for numerous teams including Endurance United, Stratton Mountain School, and the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. In addition to his coaching experience, Jeremy has a Masters degree in the Biology of Physical Activity which he obtained from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland.
About the author...
Chris Hecker is a US ski team wax tech. This will be Hecker’s 4th year as a World Cup wax tech and has attended numerous world championships and the South Korea Olympics. Hecker hails from Ham Lake, Minnesota, racing for Anoka high school and St. Scholastica College.