Nordic skiing World Cup races are rarely held outside of Europe’s skiing nations, where almost every winter weekend they are watched by the kind crowds North America can only manage to turn out for events like professional football. But last weekend the World Cup sprints came to an 800-meter hairpin-turn course of manmade snow in front of the provincial parliament building in Quebec City. Americans and Canadians from across the continent, especially from northern New England, Ontario and Quebec, showed up to cheer for the teams and skiers they never get to see — not just the North Americans but a total of 150 skiers from 15 nations, from Russia, Sweden and Finland to Australia. American Kikkan Randall (Alaska), top two photos, in black, combined with teammate Jessie Diggins (Minnesota), photos below, with her game face on before the individual race and taking one of the many corners, to win the team sprint event Friday, a first for the US. In that same cornering picture, in the third black suit in the pack, is Barton and Craftsbury Vermont’s Ida Sargent.
Quebec’s local hero Alex Harvey, third photo below, leading the pack, and Devon Kershaw (Ontario), had the potential to win the team sprint, but failed after Harvey got tangled up with another skier on the tight course. Randall won the individual sprint on Saturday. Scroll down for more, including the tiny helicopter/camera drone that swooped over the course. You can watch the men’s and women’s team sprints from Quebec here. Link to some of the mini-copter footage is here.
By the way, there was not a flake of natural snow in Quebec until it snowed lightly on Saturday. Organizers hauled in an estimated 20,000 cubic meters of manmade snow to build the race course. Racers glided next to the city’s ancient stone walls and each heat started below the Porte St. Louis, built in the 1600s and rebuilt in the nineteenth century, and then followed the Grand Allée — the main street — for the first 100 yards.