With several states opting out, Alaska skiers plan to stay in Europe for World Cup races | Instant News

Alaska World Cup cross-country skiers intend to continue racing in Europe even though some of the sport’s powerhouse teams have withdrawn from racing until at least the end of the year.

Norway, Sweden and Finland missed the World Cup races this month in Switzerland and Germany due to concerns about COVID-19 after the season-opening race in Finland last week.

Skiers from Alaska and across the United States on Monday traveled from Finland to Davos, Switzerland, where they prepare to race there December 12-13, said Erik Flora, coach of Alaska Pacific University’s nordic team.

“The athletes I spoke to said that Team US management made sense,” Flora said Wednesday by text. “I think it’s very important that they are safe and responsible.”

Five athletes from APU, one from UAA, one from Alaska Winter Stars and one who trains with the Vermont-based team were among the hundreds of skiers who were in Kuusamo, Finland, last week for the Ruka Triple, a three-race series in Kuusamo, Finland , marking the start of 2020-21.

Absent from the field is Canada, which has decided to keep its athletes at home amid the pandemic. Earlier this week, Canada canceled all FIS-approved domestic races for the season.

The second weekend race of the season was supposed to take place this week in Lillehammer, Norway, but Norwegian ski officials canceled the race last month due to COVID-19 concerns, leaving a one-week hiatus in schedule.

Norway said Tuesday it will miss the remainder of this month’s World Cup races and may also miss the Tour de Ski, which is scheduled to start January 1. Sweden and Finland followed closely with similar announcements Wednesday.

“We have experienced that maintaining distance and avoiding close contact at the World Cup arena is more demanding than we previously assumed,” Norwegian team manager Espen Bjervig said in a statement. statement reported by Reuters.

Norway and Sweden dominated last week’s podium in Finland, with Norway winning five of the six races and eight of the 18 medals and Sweden winning one race and six medals. The other four medals went to Russia.

Flora said American athletes are in a different situation from Scandinavian athletes, who have the potential added risk of carrying the virus home with them between races.

“After the race in Finland, Scandinavia came home, while US athletes left for the next country,” said Flora.

Includes Alaska training in Switzerland Rosie Brennan, Hailey Swirbul, Scott Patterson, Logan Hanneman and Tyler Kornfield of APU, Gus Schumacher of Alaska Winter Stars, JC Schoonmaker of UAA and Caitlin Patterson of Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club in Vermont.

David Norris, another APU skier and one of America’s top men last season, missed the first period of World Cup races after testing positive for COVID-19 last month, Flora said.

“David took time to rebuild after COVID,” he said.

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