The Beitostolen stadium is located downhill of most of the village area (not a ton downhill, the village is based on a gradual slope) and then the trail system varies in relationship to the stadium depending on what 5km “round” your particular race course is using on a given day.
MWC2019 will be unique in that there are three separate 5km “rounds” (aka loops) that all start/finish in the stadium complex, but each round has separated routes through the stadium area. This set-up will make for great spectating and should be easy to understand once you get your bearings on-site. But it may be confusing when you first arrive so anticipate a bit of learning curve the first day or two when we arrive.
The official website has the maps of the three rounds (note that the website says “Urban Round” twice, but the third pdf map to the right is actually the “Lake Round”) plus profiles on the maps and an Excel file of the order you ski the rounds in for each race.
The rounds are all named and also have a letter attached: "World Cup Round" = “A”; “Urban Round" = “B”; "Lake Round" = “C”.
All the older age groups (men 75+ and women 70+) are simple as you will exclusively race on the “Lake Round” or course “C” — 1, 2, or 3 laps depending on race distance.
Everyone else skis a combination of the rounds and it’s a good idea to spend some time looking at the maps, profiles, and course order of rounds so you get a feeling for how your races will ski.
Because of this unusual set-up, it’s going to easier for me to describe the general flow of the separate rounds than try and describe the actual race distances. All three rounds start with a short flat into a half kilometer gradual downhill to the general elevation of Abbortjernet and Bamselitjernet Lakes (try and say that 3x fast). After that point they all have distinct personalities.
World Cup Round = “A”
This loop sounds really hard because you really are racing a good chunk of the Beitostolen World Cup course, but in fact there is really only two significant uphills that will get your attention. Further, the descents we will be on should not be overly difficult even though there are two 180 turns included — the courses are super wide and the curves are banked. Beitostolen is generally considered an “easy” World Cup course by the hyper-elites so don’t worry too much.
After the usual starting gradual downhill you’ll have pretty gentle rolling terrain on the lower lake trails and then you’ll have the main uphill from just over 2500m to around 3135m (so just over 600m long). Then some more rolling before another long gradual downhill. Then you have a stretch of mixed steepness climbs back into the stadium complex before a finishing flatter stretch.
It will pay to train and race (if possible) on some longer hills so that you are ready for this part of the course, but the difficulty rating here is not crazy so don’t go too out of your way to prep.
Urban Round = “B”
At least half of this loop is exactly what it sounds like.
After the usual starting gradual downhill there is a super easy section before a steady half kilometer climb from 2000-2500m. Then the loop enters essentially the “suburbs” of Beitostolen running through various neighborhoods with rolling terrain until doing a slight net downhill back to the stadium.
Although the profile is pretty basic, this section will likely be the most varied with snow conditions as there are some road crossings and you may encounter all sorts of interesting stuff in the neighborhoods :-) while the early km’s offer beautiful skiing along the edge of one of the lakes and some lovely views of the nearby western mountains.
AXCS member Bob Youngman has studied the course profiles quite a bit and offered this additional input....
Regarding the substantial hill at about 2000m -- In the profile provided by the organizers it shows that this hill climbs from about 783m to about 820m (37m) over the 2050m to about 2300m course marks (a total of 250m distance- about half of the total climb distance). This yields an average grade of about 15% for the entire 250m portion of this climb and, based on analysis of the other loop profiles, represents the most challenging hill for the competitions. The hill continues another 200m but significantly decreases grade for the reminder of the climb (to the 2500m mark) with the exception of a "bump" at the very end. The provided homologation certificate shows the average grade for the entire climb to be 9.1% with a section as high as 21.5% (not sure where this steep section is but it may be at the very top of the climb). Although not a particularly long climb, the 15% average grade for the first 250m and then a continued, albeit gradual (about 3.5% average), climb for another 200m seems that it will be challenging, particularly for classic skiers. Combining this with the 21% grade of unknown length and location (probably will be a herringbone or Klaebo "Klomp" for classic skiers) adds additional challenge.
Lake Round = “C”
This is the gentlest of the three loops and yet will still offer some really nice skiing for all ages. Several of the trails sections are literally brand new having been cut specifically for the MWC2019. It will also be quite pretty as it’s the most wilderness-based of the loops.
This loop is the first loop for every race no matter what age category so the relatively mellow profile will be well suited to spreading out the fields and/or will provide a nice interlude for 30km and 45km skiers later in their races as they hit this section a second or third time.
After the usual starting gradual downhill you’ll have some delightful rolling terrain that will touch the edges of both the lower lakes. Then the loop starts a 2.5km of net climbing with mostly gentle to moderate grades.
Some final coaching notes from JD:
—> Careful readers of the AXCS emails and Team USA webpages will already have noted that the WMA is experimenting at the MWC2019 with using a 9-skier abreast FIS arrowhead start instead of our usual 20 skier straight line. This start system is well-suited for Beitostolen because the stadium has only a few hundred meters of flat terrain before the early gradual downhill starts.
Arrowhead starts are universally used now in elite and upper level junior mass starts mostly because they really do work better and tend to offer fairer starts. But many masters will not have done one of these so it can pay to watch some on-line footage of elite mass starts so you can see how the arrowhead is arranged. The big key is to think that (assuming the race is somewhat fairly seeded) you will reach 100m at least no worse than you would have ended up after the double pole zone in a 20-skier flat line. After that point it’s always going to be up to you to safely move where you can and then go for it until the finish line.
—> Because Beitostolen will have flat to gradual downhill for the first 800m of every race, anyone that ends up further back than you should be for the main body of the race should prepare for the trip by actually practicing being relaxed for this start profile in crowded conditions because you will find it quite hard to make big moves early even with amazing skis. Note also that even if you are in X position and you “should be in Y position” after that first kilometer, the profile will also make it hard for leaders to get that far away. So exhibit patience early and then peck away over the next 4km of the Lake Round so that you enter the stadium in a more comfortable spot for the next round.
—> With the multiple rounds and the separated fenced routes, this stadium will have a lot more tight flat turns than most masters have ever seen. It can really pay off to look at some on-line or televised biathlon races and pay attention to how tight stadiums are for those events. It can be worth spending some time working on maintaining speed in a similar set-up at your home area in coming weeks to get prepared.