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Minneapolis MWC2018 Preview

Preview: 2018 Masters World Cup Coming To Minneapolis, Minnesota

Coming January 19-26, 2018 the biggest age-group competition in skiing will arrive at Theodore Wirth Park in the heart of Minneapolis, Minnesota as the 2018 Masters World Cup (MWC2018) returns to North America. The American XC Skiers (AXCS) non-profit masters association has been working closely for the past five years with local event organizers The Loppet Foundation on making this exiting event a reality.

Over one thousand masters from over 20 nations spanning the entire XC ski world are anticipated to take part in the MWC2018. With no qualification process required, master skiers ranging from 30 to 90+ years of all abilities will enjoy up to three individual races (their choice of technique) plus a national team relay in all age categories. Opening and closing ceremonies, social events, and Olympic-style medal ceremonies for each race are also part of the annual MWC program.

The selection of Minneapolis as the destination for the MWC2018 was no accident according to AXCS National Director and World Masters President J.D. Downing. "Since our founding in 1998, the AXCS Board has made a commitment to supporting master skiing in major cities. Certainly there is incredible skiing to be had in smaller resort areas across the USA, but when it comes to staging major Championship events there is no way to match the sheer numbers in places with bigger population bases. Minnesota's Twin Cities is the single largest concentration of cross-country skiers in North America. That's is why AXCS held the 2000, 2005, and 2017 AXCS National Masters here. The MWC2018 will be the culmination of all these efforts."

All MWC2018 racing will take part at Theodore Wirth Park located just a couple miles due west of downtown Minneapolis. In part because of the MWC2018 major improvements at the Park have been approved by local authorities including: greatly expanded snowmaking capability at the park; a redesigned stadium configuration; a new event and administration building. Construction of all the planned improvements are all underway with stadium and expanded snowmaking completion by Fall 2017. The new building will likely only be partially used by the MWC2018 as it may or may not be officially done by the start of the Worlds.

Downing says that the reliability of snow for the MWC2018 has been the single greatest concern in the event bid and development process over the past several years.

"Without question, the MWC2018 will be the first Worlds in history that has multiple plans for low or no snow situations, says Downing. "The Loppet Foundation already expanded their snowmaking systems for the 2017 City of Lakes Loppet event (which also served as the 2017 AXCS National Masters). For the coming MWC2018 season, that system is going to be stretched even further so we have anywhere from 7.5-10km of quality skiing regardless of what natural snow may or may not be available."

The preferred natural snow planned (plan "A") will feature MWC2018 race courses on up to up to 15km of trails. The back-up "B" and "C" plans are scaled back to focus on the amount of manmade snow that can be created and distributed. Downing has claimed that "regardless of the snow situation, the courses for the MWC2018 are some of the best we've ever had for a Masters World Cup with a combination of gentle rolling terrain and fun golf course roller coaster sections that have been fully tested the past few years by hundreds of midwest masters of literally every ability level!"

To reassure older and more tentative skiers, on all the courses really steep downhills and sharp corners have been avoided to provide the safest and most enjoyable skiing experience. The courses perfectly match World Masters Association specifications for all age groups meaning that the courses will be fun, safe, and challenging for all ages and abilities of skiers.

Part international ski festival and part world championship, the Masters World Cup truly is a celebration of cross-country skiing as a sport for life spanning over sixty years of competitor ages. All race events start in 5-year age groups making the MWC perhaps the only time adult skiers actually take part in a ski event with a representative group of their exact peers.

Rotating throughout the Northern Hemisphere, the annual event was last hosted in the United States by McCall, Idaho in 2008 with the last North American host site being Sovereign Lakes/Silver Star, British Columbia in 2011. The next North American hosting slot is anticipated to be no earlier than 2022 making the MWC2018 an incredibly unique event for any North American master skier.

Registration for the MWC2018 will begin on October 1, 2017 via the official website MWC2018.com with extensive information available via xcskiworld.com and other AXCS membership media over the coming year.

Important notable notes for all potential USA participants

1.) You do not have to qualify for this event in any way. If you are at least 30 years old as of December 31, 2017 -- you are welcome to participate. However, in order for a USA skier to be allowed to race you will need a current American XC Skiers (AXCS) membership. A one year membership (including the best benefit package in ski sport!) is $40. But the best membership value is to get a 3-year AXCS membership that includes the 2017/18 season. Find more info and sign-up for AXCS membership here.

2.) To be eligible to race for the USA you can be a citizen or a long-term resident. Same goes for any other nation you'd like to represent.

3.) The MWC relays are based exclusively on national teams so USA will only be allowed one team per age/gender category. With over 600 USA skiers taking part in the McCall, Idaho-hosted MWC2008, AXCS hopes for an even bigger collection of USA skiers in 2018. But with that size will come tough selections for relay spots. The AXCS National Director will make the decision on relay selections based on performances during the MWC2018 plus factoring in results at other recent MWC and National Masters events.