Letter to Worldloppet from the
International Association of Worldloppet Skiers
Three proposals to Worldloppet:
1. Minimum distance for shortened races
The Worldloppet Constitution, Rules and Regulations state in point 5.05:
“In case Worldloppet (main or short) race is shortened or altered due to bad weather conditions, the race will remain valid for a Worldloppet stamp.”
The cancellation of a race is dramatic for the organizers and for the skiers who often have made a long travel. It is understandable that if the organization of a shortened race is possible, the organizers will do it and offer the stamps in the passports as a reward to their clients. However, the wording of the above-mentioned paragraph does not specify any lower limit for the distance. It allows giving stamps for a 1 km race.
Worldloppet skiers think that in order to preserve the prestige of the Master status, there should be a lower limit to the distance. We propose as minimum distance one half of the usual Worldloppet requirement, which gives 25 km for the gold races (21 km for the races above an altitude of 1500m) and 10 km for the silver races.
There are examples in the history of Worldloppet which are in agreement with this proposal. American Birkebeiner had to be shortened to 25 km in 1998 but passport holders got a stamp with the mention “full distance” (meaning of course the longest distance that the organizers were able to set up in that snowless year). Kangaroohoppet had a blizzard in 2004 but offered a 21 km race (three 7 km loops) and awarded gold stamps for it, whereas the silver race was reduced to 14 km (two loops of 7 km). In 2002 Tartu Maraton measured 42 km and was organized as a non competitive event, i.e. only times but no placements were given. This year Dolomitenlauf was able to organize only a 12 km race and gave silver stamps for it.
One must observe that offering stamps for a shortened race is not necessarily only promotional, a shortened race is usually a challenge for the skiers because of the bad conditions. Surviving the blizzard in Kangaroohoppet 2004 was worth any other Worldloppet race in normal conditions. Skiing the 1998 half Birkie and the shortened 2002 Tartu Maraton was difficult because of mud and snowless patches along the course. The 12 km race in Obertilliach this year was all uphill on bad snow.
2. Credit for cancelled races
Worldloppet races have different policies concerning the reimbursement of registration fees in case of cancellation of the race. At the moment of the cancellation some of the expenses corresponding to a complete organization are not incurred by the race organizer. Therefore, skiers expect to see a partial reimbursement of their registration fee. Financial and organizational details are so much variable from race to race that it does not seem possible to propose a fixed percentage for the reimbursement.
It has happened that a race which has decided to reimburse a certain part of the registration fee did it by bank transfer. This is a method that we advise not to use. Banking costs are of the same order as the amount transferred, and it creates a lot of work to the organizers. We advise that the organizer of a cancelled race attributes to the skiers a credit usable for future registrations. But let us not forget that many Worldloppet skiers are travellers from overseas who mostly cannot come to the same race every year. We propose that the credit is attributed with a validity of three years.
The registration forms could contain a box “Do you have a credit?” To our knowledge Engadin Ski Marathon has such a box in the online registration procedure.
3. Age limit
American skiers have drawn our attention to the fact that they wish to travel to Worldloppet races with their families and introduce their children to XC skiing. We also know that some race organizers are worried about the decreasing interest of younger generations for XC skiing. However, the age limits for gold/silver races vary from race to race. It is in the interest of both skiers and organizers that the age limits are as low as possible, national legislation permitting.