Letter from IAWLS to Worldloppet
Continuing our practice of the past two years, the IAWLS is submitting this letter to the Worldloppet Organization to provide an update on our activities over the past 12 months and to submit our proposals for the future growth of skier participation.
Our committee has increased to 7 members with the addition of Bengt Karlsson (USA), Blanka Nedvedicka (CZ) and Piotr Szkarlat (PL). Jan Jasiewicz (CH) has retired. Together our committee members represent a good cross-section of nations and a broad range of ski marathon experience. The list of IAWLS correspondents has increased to approximately 240 skiers from 22 countries.
The Advice for Skiers documents were updated for this past season. We intend to keep these current by reviewing all submissions and completing any necessary alterations in advance of the 2006 season.
IAWLS has conducted two email surveys on topics which were discussed during a meeting with Angelo Corradini in January.
The first survey concerned the concept of a virtual Worldloppet passport to replace, or operate parallel to, the current paper passport. The response rate was 20%. 7% of respondents preferred a virtual passport, 20% a paper passport, 73% felt that both should be available.
The second survey asked about the concept of some form of recognition/designation for skiers who have completed all 14 WL races – perhaps Global Worldloppet Skier – and the timing of implementation. Again the response rate was 20%. 91% of respondents were in favor of proceeding with the concept as soon as practicable without waiting for possible new WL races. 9% opposed the concept. IAWLS feels that this project would create a further incentive to skier participation and be of particular benefit to some of the smaller and more isolated (from other WL events) races such as the Sapporo Marathon, Kangaroo Hoppet and Keskinada Loppet.
IAWLS has worked hard to develop a seeding system which is fair to skiers, allows for the submission of results from all WL races, helps to ensure the elimination of bottlenecks and is easily applied by any of the race committees. The proposal can be customized to any event and has been submitted to 3 WL race organizations to date. Proposals are currently being prepared for an additional 2 races.
This year Birkebeinerrennet had the courage to change a well established and popular start sequence based on age groups. The new start, with 14 start waves based on skier speed was an overwhelming success which was welcomed by the skiers and received much well deserved praise in the Norwegian press. It is most encouraging to see that it is possible to have such a successful start system for a large (about 10,000) group of participants. For the seeding Birkebeinerrennet applied a seeding system similar to the proposal presented by IAWLS, thus accepting results from all WL races based on the skier’s performance in these races on a comparable basis. We welcome the opportunity to present and discuss our seeding system with other WL races.
IAWLS would like to reiterate some of our previous general recommendations which have been adopted to varying degrees by member races:
- Provide country flags on skiers’ bibs.
- Continue to improve race weather reports, providing as much detail as possible. Links to local weather web sites could help.
- Provide ski stickers. ( Keskinada started this this year)
- Mail result lists to all participants. Provide a search function on internet using multiple parameters.
- Ensure the possibility of registration for the race via Internet and allow downloading and printing of the registration form for those who prefer to send it by fax or letter.
- Provide plain warm drinking water at every drink station as some skiers do not tolerate some forms of energy drink or tea/coffee. Maintain the other offerings (especially blueberry soup!) for those who prefer them. Label all choices clearly so skiers can quickly find their preferred refreshment.
IAWLS is currently in the process of developing our own web site so that we will be able to further increase our list of correspondents and improve our communications with skiers.
We look forward to the possible expansion of WL to include races from some additional nations. IAWLS would appreciate the opportunity to provide input to WL on races being considered as several of our committee members and correspondents have already participated in these events and can offer reports of their experiences.
Our committee has written letters to several races to offer recommendations for improvement and praise for that which is already done well. We appreciate the positive response received toward some of our suggestions and hope to continue to work with the Worldloppet organization by representing the interests and concerns of skiers.