The FIS Cross-Country Executive Board made a few small adaptations to the dates and race techniques during the FIS Autumn Meetings last weekend. The goal was to optimize the World Cup Calendar for the 2008/2009 season.
The Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country 2008/2009 features a compact calendar with 35 races per gender including the third edition of the FIS Tour de Ski, the 2009 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Liberec (CZE), and the 2nd edition of the World Cup Final. For the first time since 2002, the World Cup will not kick off in October. The Cross-Country athletes will have their first World Cup competition in the middle of November in Gällivare (SWE), the region where the new Swedish star Charlotte Kalla grew up. Afterwards, the Nordic Opening will take place traditionally at Kuusamo/Ruka (FIN) together will the other two FIS Nordic disciplines. With La Clusaz (FRA), where a test of the feeding boxes is planned in a mass start race, and Davos (SUI), the World Cup will continue in Central Europe in December. As a premiere, the December schedule includes two city sprint competitions shortly before Christmas in Düsseldorf (GER).
The third edition of the FIS Tour de Ski from 27th December, 2008 to 4th January, 2009 will consist of seven competitions in nine days and three countries. The host of the Tour kick-off will be Oberhof (GER), a newcomer on the Cross-Country calendar. The town in Thuringia is already a very famous winter sport village and has organized several Nordic and Biathlon World Cups as well the Biathlon World Championships. From Oberhof, the Tour family will move to Prague (CZE) where a city sprint will take place on the fairgrounds (for more see under Tour from A-Z). After a rest day, the Tour will continue in Nove Mesto (CZE) on 31st December, 2008 and 1st January, 2009. Traditionally the great final of the Tour de Ski will take place on 3rd and 4th January 2009 in Val di Fiemme (ITA) with the Final Climb on the last day.
After a competition break, the World Cup family will travel to North America and have their pre-Olympic test competitions at the Olympic site in the Whistler Nordic Park in Callaghan Valley near Vancouver (CAN). Back in Europe, Otepää (EST), Rybinsk (RUS) and Val di Dentro (ITA) will provide the fine-tuning for the 2009 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Liberec, which will take place from 19th February to 1st March, 2009.
The World Cup will conclude with the traditional Nordic Tour in Lahti (FIN), Trondheim (instead of Oslo, which will be preparing the venues for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in 2011), and the World Cup Final series in Stockholm and Falun (SWE).
In Trondheim (30km and 50 km races), the FIS Council approved a test event for the implementation of a new intermediate sprint where the top three athletes can earn World cup points(15-10-5 points). That means that for example, if the winner of the men's competition also crossed all the intermediate sprint points first he could win a total of 175 World Cup points in one competition.
New in the World Cup and World Cup rules will be the order of the races in Vancouver where the pursuit and sprint changed the dates. The sprint will now kick off the event on Friday, 16th January, while the pursuit will take place on Saturday. The weekend will conclude with the team sprint on Sunday. In Rybinsk, the first race will be held in the free technique, not in the classical, in order to have an overall balance between the classical and free technique races.
A change to the past season is that the prologues of the FIS Tour de Ski and the World Cup Final will count to the overall distance World Cup.