After the set-backs due to bad weather in 2013: snow storm and very hard ski conditions, or in 2014: last minute cancellation due to lack of snow, everybody wondered, with some apprehension, what 2015 would bring to us. Concern increased when seeing on the roads from Moscow to Rybinsk that the snow was more than scarce, inexistent! But arriving to the Demino ski stadium (in reality pronounced Diomino) the nice surprise: sufficient snow on perfectly groomed tracks and cold nights, meaning an ideally cold snow in the morning.
Fast snow, good glide, still frozen at the start (at 11 AM) and during the two first hours of the race, somewhat softened in the afternoon but still very pleasant to ski. We enjoyed a marvelous sunny weather during the whole week-end!
Pure happiness, both for the 50 km skating race on Saturday and the 25 km classic race on Sunday. A 25 km loop (to be made twice for the 50 km) , without real difficulties: only two small hills at 18 km (and 43 km), a wide course making overtaking easy in both races, a pleasant course winding through woods and hills, a start (for the skate) in several waves with 5 min intervals,, no jams in the slight uphill after the start. In short: no faults.
And this is evidenced by the times: 1h39 for the winner! And for me, having made exactly the same course in 2012, an improvement of almost half an hour (2h56 against 3h22 in 2012). I found again, with the same satisfaction, the small rigid plastic bottles with water, tea or energy drink. A brilliant invention as well for the comfort of the skiers (no soft goblets that collapse in the hands, easy to catch without removing the handstrips) as for the environment: these small bottles (of about 0,2 l) are easy to recover and wash. All race organizers should follow this example.
Although the snow was fast (at least during the two first hours), the last skier needed more than 7 hours and was waited for and congratulated with as much or even more eagerness as the first.
At the finish a nice meal, served in the spring weather with +8°C at 2 PM on tables set outdoors a few m after the finish line. Further well solved details: the clothing bags also placed near the finish line and the guarded ski parks.
Gifts and kisses plus two medals: the one for 2015 and one as premium for 2014, skiers’ names and time shown immediately on a giant screen. Bibs as beautiful as comfortable. In short: a no faults organization. With a special mention for the reception of foreigners and Worldloppet Masters. A warm, big room reserved for foreign skiers with a permanent buffet of pasta and salads. And the equipment under guard, Saturday and Sunday. A very nice reception (with pasta party) on Friday night for all Worldloppet passport holders. And the summit, for all Woldloppet Masters, the bib was printed front and back with their name (in latin characters) and the number of Masters. Something never seen before!
The small defects of the previous editions (a somewhat long waiting time at the bib pick-up, stormy explanations needed to avoid paying the required complementary insurance) had been solved, no such worries at Diomino 2015.
Only remark: why does the 50 km classic race seem to be reserved for Russians participating in Russialoppet? No information on the website nor in the race rules, nevertheless some thirty skiers were registered and finished the 50 km classic race on Sunday.
Whether we consider the legendary hospitable welcome of the Russians, the particular geopolitical circumstances of the end of winter 2015, or the evident aim of the organizers to merit the label Worldloppet and attract more foreigners, never mind: this was for me, beyond all question (snow and weather helping), the most beautiful success of the season 2015 (and beyond), In any case, the 9 French skiers who embarked on this beautiful adventure will not contradict me. In particular those who had registered last year and whose fee in 2015 was offered gratis. Not like in Norway…