Letter to Worldloppet from the
International Association of Worldloppet Skiers
IAWLS has now 278 individual members and one associated member from 26 countries. We try to constantly update the Advice for skiers and give attractive news on our website. We have published reports on all Worldloppet (WL) races.
In this letter we discuss four points of interest to WL races and skiers.
1) Global Worldloppet Skier
Our members were very happy when WL accepted our proposal of the GWLS at the June 2007 Annual General Meeting. This new recognition for those who have skied all 14 WL events (or in the future as many as there are venues in WL) has created a strong interest amongst WL skiers. When skiers meet at various races the conversation often turns to the plans towards achieving this goal. We believe that in the coming years the number of GWLSs will steadily increase.
The GWLS recognition did not occasion any new tasks for the race organizers. We appreciate that the General Secretariat was able to handle this additional work and we like the elegant way in which they stamp the diplomas and send them to the happy achievers of the GWLS status.
2) The Ideal Start
On our website we have expressed the skiers’ enthusiasm about the new start arrangement introduced by Marcialonga in 2007. In 2008 they applied the same principle, this time adapted to the start area in Moena. And Jizerská Padesátka followed Marcialonga’s example in 2008 with a very successful Ideal Start.
This start arrangement is essentially a continuous flow of skiers, but organized in “waves”. Each skier’s real starting time is recorded at the gate using chips. It would not be sufficient to just let all skiers flow through the gate without interruption. Each skier must know his/her approximate starting time in order to reduce the waiting time in the line. Since each “wave” has a predetermined time at which the flow of the skiers begins, skiers know their start time within an accuracy of a few minutes, the duration of the flow of skiers of that particular wave.
We have called this start arrangement “the Ideal Start” because there is no better start arrangement. The wave start was a huge improvement compared to the mass start, and the Ideal Start is the best possible start. The experience of Marcialonga and Jizerská Padesátka shows that the “battlefield effect” is eliminated. It is possible to ski at one’s own pace right from the beginning. A big advantage is that skiers behave calmly during the waiting time before the start and just after the start. There is no need to enter the start box an hour or more before the start, in order to be in the first row. Whether you are the first or the last within your wave has no influence on the result. Therefore, we recommend that all races where there are problems of crowding after the start because of the large number of participants and/or the narrowness of the course adopt the Ideal Start.
IAWLS has issued a series of recommendations for race organizers, intended to improve the quality of the race. This year we picked up one of the recommendations, namely the stickers. We recommended that stickers should be made of strong plastic material, have a good adhesive, contain a clearly identifiable symbol of the race and not exceed the length of 6 cm. What we observe is the following:
-in some races the stickers are so thin that they tear off due to wear,
-it happens that the adhesive is of poor quality, the stickers fall off,
-sometimes the stickers are unnecessarily long and take too much space on the ski.
Nowadays, the stickers’ main role is that they are a souvenir for skiers and an excellent means of promotion for the races. Most skiers use their skis for many years and have a collection of stickers on them. When skiers meet on a ski course, or prepare for the start of a race, they look at each other’s stickers. “Oh, you skied that race in 2006, I was there in 2007”. “I am thinking at going to that race next year, how is it?”
When a sticker falls off or tears in pieces, it no longer serves this purpose. It is probably not more costly to make good quality stickers, it is just a question of specifying the required characteristics to the manufacturer. Why should the technicians of the different races not convene at a workshop and discuss the question? Those races that do not have problems with their stickers could explain what kind of material and adhesive they use, and everybody could take benefit of this experience.
Logos and texts shown on the sticker depend on the race. Sometimes stickers serve as a support of promotion for a company that probably is a sponsor of the race. Skiers of course expect that one can recognize the race even looking at the sticker from a distance. The logo of the race and its name should therefore be big enough. The best stickers of WL are the Kangaroohoppet stickers. Paradoxically it is the smallest WL race. But their stickers are remarkable: only a kangaroo, symbol of the race, the text Kangaroohoppet and the year, nothing else. They have a different color every year. The length of the sticker is only 3.5 cm but on the skis they stand out amongst all other stickers! Some other stickers have fallen off, never those of Kangaroohoppet.
4) New WL members
We know that the candidacy of Bieg Piastow (POL) is now being evaluated and that the procedure is defined in the WL statutes. For all useful purposes we give you here some considerations from the skiers.
a) It is certain that as soon as Bieg Piastow enters WL, they will get a few hundred more skiers. Therefore, the requirement of 1000 skiers which has been applied until now by WL will be easily satisfied. We have the experience with Jizerská Padesátka in which the number of foreign skiers increased rapidly.
b) The first week-end in March is, from the skiers’ point of view, the best date. February is impossible because it is overcrowded by eight WL events. January is too early. This means that skiers have to choose between Bieg Piastow and Vasaloppet. But the latter also offers the Öppet Spår events the previous Sunday and Monday, thus assiduous Vasaloppet-goers will not have a black year without Vasaloppet even if they go to Bieg Piastow. It seems that the first week-end in March is also favorable for the snow-safety in the race area.
c) From the testimony of experienced WL skiers including GWLSs who have participated in Bieg Piastow in recent years, the race is interesting and of good quality. Some practical aspects need to be improved but that can be achieved easily.